On Tuesday October 26, the air over Donora became foggy from cool air being trapped beneath warmer air above in what meteorologists term a temperature inversion. Normally inversions last less than a day, but this one lasted a devastating five days. Within two days the fog had turned into a stinging, yellowish-gray shroud so thick that many people couldn't drive, couldn't even walk without stumbling. "It was so bad," said one resident, "that I'd accidentally step off the curb and turn my ankle because I couldn't see my feet."
Could he have survived if he hadn't worked so hard?
Once a great while it happens that death can fool even experienced healthcare professionals. It did me, certainly.
One of the saddest days of my nursing career happened when I made shift rounds and found that an elderly patient was in the throes of death, alone. I didn't know him, but I stayed with him until his final breath. No one should have to die alone. But with COVID-19, they are and will continue to die with no loved ones nearby.
My writing life hasn't changed while I'm in social isolation, but my mind sure has.
I thought I had determined the final count of victims from the Donora Death Fog. I was wrong.
After Susan Gnora died in the smog, a settlement with US Steel allowed each of her eight children, all of whom were age 20 or older, to receive a bit over half the cost of a new TV.
So, who *really* died in the Donora Death Fog?
That's the working title of the book I'm currently working on for The University of Pittsburgh Press. A nonfiction work, the book will tell for…
After the smog cleared out of the Mon valley that deadly October 1948, after Dr. William Rongaus's pleas for people to leave town went unheeded,…
Air pollution continues to kill people around the world.
How has the Donora smog tragedy affected the way we live today?
We tred carefully through the brambles, weeds, and bushes devouring a hillside cemetery in the north end of Donora, Pa. We step from one small…
This post was updated Feb. 14, 2020, based on information obtained from Stanley Sawa's son. One of the first stories I heard about the Donora…
I am delighted and honored to join this prestigious university press. Now, to write the book!
I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Bookends Literary Agency for Silver Lining: Clean Air and the Tragedy of a Pennsylvania Mill Town.
I'm a word guy. I read, I write, I edit. I've grown up with books. I loved The Hardy Boy books, and read a flock of them. (Flock of books? Bevy? Gaggle?) But I don't read books anymore, because ...
Knowing where each victim lived — and died — can be instructive for several reasons. Consider how many of those victims and their families must have known each other.
Ceh and Kirkwood were the first Donorans to die in the Donora Death Fog of 1948. At least 18 more followed, most of them the same night. Ceh died from sudden heart failure, Jeanie of asthma. Both of their death certificates indicate they died at 2:00 AM on the deadliest day of the smog, Saturday, October 30, 1948.