Yerington’s 1950’s Kids Chase The Mosquito Truck
A Memoir by Mary Burns
(Published in the Mason Valley News in 1987)
|Burns Kids 1950's|
The year is 1959(ish) in a South Yerington neighborhood after dinner on hot July evening. Twenty or so juvenile type renegades come streaming out of our houses and start gathering on the big lawn. Our tummies now full - we are ready for some action.
Could this be the night? It hasn’t happened in awhile. Maybe it will show tonight. Twenty little kids, nauseous with anticipation, are impatiently shifting around the big lawn. At dusk, the slaughter house’s pungent fragrance permeates the air. “Where is it?”. “A no show?” (Hissssss) -”Quiet everybody!! Do you hear that?” “Ah, Dennis, knock it off, you’re always imagining things.” Dejectedly, we slowly, wander to the best hide and seek house. I guess “it’s not coming tonight”. What a drag. Another boring night of hide and seek….(Hissss) Then louder (Hissss)...”Hey guys, hold on, ya hear that?” We looked….and there it was! The sure sign of our famous visitor - a dark cloud about four blocks away. We dashed for our bikes and raced our flat wheeled machines toward the dark hissing cloud - forty little legs in a blur.
We flew around the corner as one unit and immediately slammed on our brakes. “Wow, guys, look at that! The biggest, darkest, badest, loudest clouded ever.” This is amazing!!... This is better than Disneyland!…This is the mosquito fogger!!.. And the chemicals are stronger than ever! We each disappear into the poisonous cloud - in ecstasy - riding blindly. “This is great - I can’t even see my handlebars. The best fog bank in weeks!” The noxious fumes penetrate our every pore and we reek with pleasure. My eyes are streaming hot lava and I’m sure I’m blind. My lungs suffocating with fire, are screeching for air. My nose is stinging and starting to run. I start to cough, gag and choke. “This is super and who says there’s nothing to do in Yerington?” Eventually, one by one, we fall back out of the poisonous vapors. As the fogger lumbers down the street, we circle our bikes for the storytelling part of the experience. I think Billy won that night. He said he rode right up to the poison emitting spout and put his finger in it! What a man! (What a B.S.’er!)
Darkness was near now. Being on the downhill slope of our adrenalin highs. we were physically and emotionally spent and welcomed the calling home by our moma. (Actually Danny’s dad whistled him home, as did Billy’s and Larry’s, and my mom honked the car horn three times,) The calm of the evening had returned as we shuffled to our respective homes. Just as the screen doors closed us in, we could hear twenty maternal voices shrieking through the screened windows and out into the sultry evening. “Whew, get into the bathtub right now and take off those clothes off outside”, to which twenty little juvenile type renegades whined, “But mom, I went swimming today. ‘member? I don’t need a bath”
I can’t speak for the Utah accountant, insurance broker, airline pilot, assessor, Governor’s chauffeur, Nevada State special investigator, telephone company retiree, M.D., R,N., Yerington businesswoman, newspaper owner/editor, attorneys, educators, trucking exec, contractor, butcher, baker and candlestick maker, who came out of that neighborhood; but I do know that the weekly dose of caustic fumes inhaled in our lungs and brain tissue didn’t bother me...bother me...bother me… It’s the North Yerington kids I’d worry about! Oh, yes, and as for our dogs, our ever faithful companions - who stuck with us through thick and thin or mosquito foggers - they either died from old age or car tag (as did their offspring).
The bottom line is encephalitis and other mosquito related diseases can be -and are often- deadly. Do what it takes to get a handle on it!