I picked up my friend, Oso from San Diego, today at Union Station. As we waited for the light at Broadway and Cesar Chavez to turn green so we could head north into Chinatown, he said, “I really like days like this in LA.” The sun was out, the wind was pleasant but not overpowering, it wasn’t cold nor hot, and visibility was great. It felt perfect and didn’t feel like LA is number one when it comes to smog.
I mentioned something to Oso about the air quality being worse when we were younger. He agreed and we reminisced over the effect of bad air quality and smog days. Oso lived in Orange County and I lived in the San Gabriel Valley. Most days, except after rain, we couldn’t see the mountains to the north.
Since we both lived further inland, the air quality was worse. I remember several afternoons in the spring or fall when the air quality was deemed too unhealthy by some standard I didn’t understand. My elementary school teacher would cancel P.E. in favor of another activity. In the summer, my mom would pay attention to the nightly news to decide whether or not it was safe for us to be outside during the day. A lot of times, the air quality sucked and we’d stick to indoor activities and wait until the afternoon to play baseball or tag out in the front yard. I remember exciting the Bradley Terminal after a trip to Australia in mid-August of 1994 and coughing immediately. Oso checked the Times each morning for the air quality to see if he’d have basketball practice. “LA doesn’t even compare to Mexico City,” he said. I agreed and we changed the topic to discuss the difficulty of reading academic journals in Spanish.
Ah, growing up in/around LA. Anyone else remember smog days or alerts?