Home > Uncategorized > Attitudes About Pollution in the 1950s –1970s: They Were Different, According to Former Whitehall Teacher Rosemary Davidson Vreeland

Attitudes About Pollution in the 1950s –1970s: They Were Different, According to Former Whitehall Teacher Rosemary Davidson Vreeland


I had the pleasure of interviewing my former sixth grade teacher, Rosemary Davidson Vreeland, a few weeks ago. I hadn’t realized when I was in sixth grade at Whitehall Schools, that in the 1950s, Rosemary and her husband, Jim, had transferred from the Hooker Chemical Company in Niagara Falls, New York to the White Lake area where Jim would head up the laboratory for the new company.

I was in sixth grade in 1971. Pollution issues relating to Hooker Chemical Company were not raised in the community until the mid to late 1970s, so it is not surprising that I was not aware of her husband’s work and their background.  It’s also not surprising considering the general attitudes and state of knowledge about pollution.  It was not a topic of everyday conversation in a rural community like ours, and in an age well before the easy availability of information such as we have today.  Rosemary talks about how pollution was considered to be quite common in the heavily industrialized Niagara Falls region and how pollution associated with industry was a given.  Even so, she said thoughts of pollution were not consistent with her new hometown, with its scenic lakes, rivers, and forests.  Rosemary recalls the tension that arose for her as a teacher as White Lake’s pollution issues came to the community’s attention. She concludes by explaining how she does not want to apologize for Hooker Chemical Company, but instead to describe what she remembers as a very different mindset about pollution.

It is interesting to know the variety of thoughts that people had during this time.  I am grateful to Rosemary for agreeing to the interview.  It reminded me of a much more innocent time and helped to add important context to our community’s story.

Your thoughts?  They are always welcome!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

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