De Amerikaanse schrijver Philip Roth werd geboren op 19 maart 1933 in Newark. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 maart 2007 en ook mijn blog van 19 maart 2008 en ook mijn blog van 19 maart 2009 en ook mijn blog van 19 maart 2010.
„Summers were steamy in low-lying Newark, and because the city was partially ringed by extensive wetlands – a major source of malaria back when that, too, was an unstoppable disease – there were swarms of mosquitoes to be swatted and slapped away whenever we sat on beach chairs in the alleys and driveways at night, seeking refuge out of doors from our sweltering flats, where there was nothing but a cold shower and ice water to mitigate the hellish heat. This was before the advent of home air conditioning, when a small black electric fan, set on a table to stir up a breeze indoors, offered little relief once the temperature reached the high nineties, as it did repeatedly that summer for stretches of a week or ten days. Outdoors, people lit citronella candles and sprayed with cans of the insecticide Flit to keep at bay the mosquitoes and flies that were known to have carried malaria, yellow fever, and typhoid fever and were believed by many, beginning with Newark’s Mayor Drummond, who launched a citywide “Swat the Fly” campaign, to carry polio. When a fly or a mosquito managed to penetrate the screens of a family’s flat or fly in through an open door, the insect would be doggedly hunted down with fly swatter and Flit out of fear that by alighting with its germ-laden legs on one of the household’s sleeping children it would infect the youngster with polio. Since nobody then knew the source of the contagion, it was possible to grow suspicious of almost anything, including the bony alley cats that invaded our backyard garbage cans and the haggard stray dogs that slinked hungrily around the houses and defecated all over the sidewalk and street and the pigeons that cooed in the gables of the houses and dirtied front stoops with their chalky droppings. In the first month of the outbreak – before it was acknowledged as an epidemic by the Board of Health – the sanitation department set about systematically to exterminate the city’s huge population of alley cats, even though no one knew whether they had any more to do with polio than domesticated house cats.“
Philip Roth (Newark, 19 maart 1933)