Mosquitoes Put Bite on Cape

I wrote a story for Page One of the July 11, 1967,  Missourian that must have contained every bad pun about mosquitoes ever written. If you discount that, though, it wasn’t all that bad. It was good enough that  Editor John Blue gave me a byline, something you got about as often as (or in lieu of) a raise.

Are the taxpayers getting stung?

Spraying cost about $80 a day. The city spent $1,400 in 1966 and was projected to spend $2,500 in 1967.  Russell Matzen, health officer, said, “I think the spraying is helping out a lot. Believe it or not, there are actually places in town where people can sit outside without swatting.”

The spray from the fogger is harmless, Matzen assured, unless it is breathed for a prolonged time. He warned parents, though, not to allow their children to play or ride bicycles near the foggers because motorists may not see them.

St. Louis mosquitoes REALLY bad

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that city was launching an all-out assault against “perhaps the heaviest plague of mosquitoes in 15 years.” Crews spreading larvacide there were run out by the insects and had to return with fogging equipment “just to even up the fight.”


16 Replies to “Mosquitoes Put Bite on Cape”

    1. There’s no rhyme or reason to when I post stuff. It’s like dipping into the proverbial box of chocolates.

      Sometimes when I look through a sleeve of film, I immediately recognize the photos and may scan and post them immediately.

      Sometimes I’ll scan them and set them aside because I know there are other, similar, photos that should go with them.

      Sometimes I can come up with the copy right off the top of my head; sometimes I have to go rooting through books or Google News Archives to come up with details.

      That last avenue can be both frustrating and rewarding. Google ran the old newspaper microfilm through an OCR(Optical Character Recognition) program to create an index. Because the original microfilm copies could have been a bit knarly, it’s a case of GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). You may find exactly what you were looking for on the first try or you may NEVER find it.

      In the case of the mosquito fogger, I had originally planned to run another story, but couldn’t find the background info. Since there was a date on the negative sleeve, I was able to narrow down my Google Archive search quckly and find my bylined (gotta brag) story.

      There’s the explanation, which, I think, is longer than the original post. Look for snow photos in July. You’ll appreciate them more then, anyhow.

  1. I just love the smoke dangling carelessly from the corner of his mouth as he bends over the poison-sprayer! I imagine it belching out a child-view-obstructing fog of mosquito death… and happy little tykes squealing and laughing as they frolic in the resulting cloud. How exactly did we survive our childhoods I wonder? lol

  2. In the early or mid 1950s. before air conditioning, three generations of the family and neighbors would sit out in the yard on Cape Rock Dr in the early evening in the summer and wait for the houses to cool down. Grandpa would get the bee smoker and fog the area where we were sitting to keep the mosquitoes away.
    I can not recall a single conversation but have this warm feeling recalling those evenings that we sat in the metal yard chairs and listened to the adults talk.

    1. We were lucky enough to have a screened-in porch and a basement that stayed cool.

      A big, old attic fan sucked in cool, but humid, air at night. I still love the sound those attic fans made. The first house we rented in FL had one of those, too.

      My parents waited until I went off to college before air conditioning the house. My younger brothers are the weaker for it.

    2. Burning an oily rag was our weapon of choice to fight mosquitoes, as we sat out on the front porch at my grandmother’s in South Cape when I was a kid.

  3. I can still recall that distinct smell of the mosquito smoke. I hated it then, but in a nostagic way it reminds me of summer.

  4. My Cousin and used to walk in the fog behind the mosquito sprayers…it was like London fog or at least what a Missouri boy thought London Fog was like…How would we know.
    I do not remember sitting outside without beign rubbed down with 6-12 by my Mom or aunts. Of course outside in Mo. in the summer is not like outside in the summer anywhere else in the world. It was often hotter outside than inside or at least seemed that way.

    1. Terry, that goes to explain a lot.

      I don’t remember mosquitoes as much as chiggers. That’s one of the few good things about Florida. We have the world’s biggest mosquitoes, but no chiggers.

      Well, now that I think about it, we’ve also got no-see-ums and fire ants.

      Plus, Palmetto Bugs. We call them that because if we called them Cockroaches With Six-Inch Wingspans,” they’d be even more disgusting.

  5. When I was a child in New Madrid, we were not warned not to play or ride bicycles in the fog. We used to run after the fogger and play in the fog. No, I do not glow in the dark, but I do have asthma and have had cancer. Makes one wonder.

    1. James McMurtry has a verse in his song, 12 O’Clock Whistle that I thought of when I saw the photo:

      the boys were chasing the city truck
      spraying DDT
      it kept the mosquitoes down
      “that stuff won’t hurt ’em none”
      I heard the neighbor lady say
      “encephalitis, now that can ruin your day”

  6. When I was in the army, in 1967, I was sent to Atlanta’s 3rd U.S.Army medical lab to be a part of the survey team which collected mosquito larvae and adults at southern army bases. We were looking for the yellow fever carrier and carried bottles of DDT on our hip (filled directly from 55 gal. drums …usually we remembered to wash our hands), squirting pools of water wherever we found them: ‘we are fighting men, mosquito men, and if a skeeter we do see, we zap it with our DDT’! One evening, in barracks at Ft. Rucker, Ala., I remember a colleague saying: “Hey, everyone, I’m reading ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson. She says what we are doing is killing birds”. The first earth day was in 1970, and the rest is, mercifully, history.

  7. I remember those trucks well, we used to run behind them in Smelterville. As you can imagine the misquitos were horrible. My parents used to put old rags in a barrel and burn them to keep misquitos away. The burnt rags really smelled horrible, but it was better than the bug bites.

  8. I have a vivid memory from when I was 3-4 years old of a truck going by our house on North Main. My father had warned me not to breathe the fog as “it will kill you!” I heard the infernal noise approaching one day and tried to run inside but found the front door locked. I turned around, saw the fog drifting towards me and started crying, knowing my demise was imminent. Suddenly, one of my older sisters emerged around the corner to lead me to the safety of the backyard. Funny the things we remember after half a century.!

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