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It was on December 17, 1963 that Congress passed the first Clean Air Act.

This was a simpler time when women cooked, men wore ties and hats, children said “sir” and “ma’am,” and all breathed air thick as moldy cotton. Los Angeles was infamous for its deep layer of protective smog that had turned a generation of its residents into mole-man like creatures known for their poor eyesight, penchant for eating worms and wearing women’s undergarments.

It was also just a decade after a smog cloud produced by a zinc plant descended upon the town of Donora, Pennsylvania killing 20 and making sick 6,000.

These days, thanks to this first legislative and the commerce-choking laws that followed in its wake, the LA mole-men are no more than a little-known memory and Californians across the state drink fresh water straight from the gutters and breathe air so clear that they continuously cry in appreciation of its beauty. Meanwhile, Pennsylvanians, trapped beneath their own blanket of fresh air, long for the days of poisonous air so they wouldn’t have to endure watching the Eagles and the Steelers stumble around football fields like drunk fat old men in a sorority house.


About the author: Andrew Greene


Now playing the role of grumpy old man in the foothills of Northern California’s Gold Country, Andrew has had a life-long love affair with vehicles of all sorts, from the bicycle he pedaled across the continent in 1991 to the armored personnel carriers he drove in the Army to the bamboo rafts, elephants, motorcycle taxis, ferries and buses he traveled by during the 13 years he lived and worked in South East Asia. Always eager to learn more about how the people of the world get from here to there in their day-today lives, he, a professional journalist, has been covering the vehicle industry for years.


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