First Images

By Tom Erikson

I grew up in rural Massachusetts, where things were not always as clean and wholesome as they appeared on the surface. The cranberry bog, where my best friend Allen McBride and I swam as kids, used DDT on its berries. The town of Norton, where we both lived, sprayed the chemical Malathion seasonally for mosquitoes, and local farmers used chemical fertilizers and a variety of pesticides. Radiation leaked from our regional power plant at Seabrook, New Hampshire and dangerous PCBs and fluorocarbons, mercury and lead, emissions of toxic coal, gas and oil residue spread into our air and groundwater from the local industries, adding to the pollution from all the cars commuting into Boston or Providence.

Allen only made it to his 30th birthday. He died of cancer at his new home in Portland Oregon in 1990. Right before died, I went up and spent a week with him, helping his new wife Lindsey cook meals, and spending the days listening to good music and taking short walks in the neighborhood. Allen was the first friend I ever lost to death. I was a pallbearer at his funeral, helping to lower him into the ground.