Monday, October 13, 2003

The Patriot Act failed to involve me sufficiently. Have been side-tracked for several hours -- looking through files -- discovering copies of letters to friends and papers long ago lost in the fog of what once was... .

Have no idea to whom this letter was written, but it's self-explanatory, I think:

January 19, 1971

Just returned from the Bayfront and a long look at the havoc wreaked by the Standard Oil tankers in the collision on the Bay in the black of Tuesday night's heavy fog. Over a million gallons of black ooze covering now all shores of the east side of the Bay. Now the tide has shifted several times. Sausalito is also hard hit as is the coastline outside the gate as far north as Point Reyes (a bird sanctuary).

I stood along the edge helplessly watching poor birds of all descriptions trying to stay afloat -- but then you've seen reams of film on that subject. There were lots of folks who looked like scientists from the university, many children, plus lots of hardhats (actual) who'd been sent out by Standard to try to syphon off as much of the oil as possible, into trucks now standing by. Boxes and sacks of sawdust and rags and newspapers and endless bottles of mineral oil -- also supplied by Standard -- stood ready for the eager volunteers to use in the rescue.

Cold and foggy with near zero visibility. Felt like crying just from the gloom of it all. It's contagious ... getting, at last, a real sense of what "ecological disaster" means.

Sounds ... fog horns ... truck motors ... hushed voices (why are were we so quiet?) ... no. Not all. Seeing the world in small snapshots in the way that fog demands. One only sees in tiny pieces of the whole. Now the big voice over the bullhorn; "Now you look heah people. Dese boids is sad strugglin' out dere in dat oil-covahed watah ... and day got to come closah in tada sho-ah so's we kin ketch 'em 'n clean 'um. And IT DON' HELP NONE FUR YOUSE TA BE STANNEN OUT DERE IN DAH WATAH SCREAMIN', "HEAH BOIDIE, BOIDIE!" God bless him.

Worked for several hours more 'til it just became too cold to continue. The drive home to Walnut Creek loomed long and risky in that fog. We've been socked in for about three days in the valley. This is typical for January. There were at least a few hours of sunshine in Berkeley today, but none for several hours by the time I left for home.

Anyway, I'm back in the valley again and feeling a whole lot better about bullhorns!