An Interview with Lois Gibbs [Her battle and victory on behalf of Love Canal homeowners]


An Interview with Lois Gibbs [Her battle and victory on behalf of Love Canal homeowners]


Lois Gibbs, a stay-at-home mom who whose family moved into the Love Canal neighborhood when her son was one year old, was never told she would be living on top of a dumpsite where 20 thousand tons of toxic chemicals had been buried.

She says that her son, who had been “perfectly healthy,” suddenly got “sicker and sicker and sicker.” He developed epilepsy. Lois began reading articles by Michael Brown in the Niagara Gazette, questioning whether a disproportionate number of health issues in the community could be attributed to toxic chemical exposure.

Mrs. Gibbs, who said it was “terrifying,” began her search for answers by going to the Niagara Falls school board, City Hall, and the offices of state senators and other representatives. She says no one offered to help. She says Mayor Michael O’Laughlin told her Michael Brown was a “troublemaker,” and that she should “go home and take care of my child.”

In her interview with Rich Newberg, Lois Gibbs reflects on the strategies employed to finally get the president of the United States to come to Niagara Falls and sign legislation benefitting Love Canal families wishing to move out of the neighborhood. It also created a Superfund to assist other communities across the country dealing with the hazards of toxic chemical exposure.

Portions of the Lois Gibbs interview appear in the 2021 documentary, “The Buffalo Story: History Happens Here.” It is part of the Rich Newberg Reports Collection. The Love Canal segment entitled “A Toxic Nightmare: The Awakening,” won a New York Emmy award in 2022 in the category of Science/Environment.




Rich Newberg Reports Collection


Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (publisher of digital)


Copyright held by Moments In Time Video, Inc. & TVRE Productions, Inc. Access to this digital version provided by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. Videos or images in this collection are not to be used for any commercial purposes. Users of this website are free to utilize material from this collection for non-commercial and educational purposes.


Moving image





Hi my name is Lois Murray Gibbs. It's February 15 2021. And I'm at home in Falls Church, Virginia.

Lois, let's start from the beginning. That's always a good place to start. How did you get wind of the fact that you were living in a toxic neighborhood? And what was your reaction and the impact when you first found out?

It was really scary. I did not know when I moved in, but I was living in a toxic area. I found out through a series of articles that were in the neighborhoods because that that were written by Michael Brown. And he was talking about the toxic site he's talking about. Now you're talking about 99th Street 97th Street in the United States Elementary School, and it's like, well, when he started talking about 99 Straight elementary school, is when it clicked for me, because my son was perfectly healthy as one years old when we moved into our home since the time we moved there, kept getting sicker and sicker and sicker. And by when he went to kindergarten at 993 school, he got really sick and he developed epilepsy and, and these weird things that are not in either one of our family's history, and that's when it's like, I know what's wrong with Michael my pediatrician couldn't tell me but I knew when I read Michael's article, Michael Browns article and it said, school 20,000 tons of chemicals, chemicals that cause these diseases. It click and it was terrifying. As a mother it was terrifying.

What then so you're terrified? Where do you go from there?

Yeah, I didn't you know, I'm a high school graduate. And, you know, science was not my strength. And so I was trying to figure out where to go and I went to talk to my brother in law who taught biology at the University of Buffalo and said, This is the problem. What do I do about this? He said, This is a problem. And and so I went where most people do like in the whole world, every issue people do this. You go to your government officials because they tell you if you play by the rules, and you you know, work hard and data, and there's a problem, but your elected officials and they will fix it for you. And so I went to the 99th Street School Board superintendent, Dr. Long, I went to City Hall Michael Laughlin was the mayor. I went to my state senators, my state representatives, I went to everybody in anybody I could think of you know, you get this little voter guide things in the library. And I called everyone who said we have this problem. Can you help me and every single one of them said, No.

What did Michael Laughlin say?

Michael Laughlin said, I should go home and take care of my child like I was a dumb little girl who had no clue what she was doing. And it just sort of passively pushed me away like no, this is just crazy. I don't know what you're talking about go away. Michael Brown was a troublemaker

In footage that I've looked at, there's confrontational footage outside of Michael Laughlin's office. And there's a very telling interview that Fran Luca did where micro Laughlin Mayor of Auckland said you know, the city could be sued for a lot of money. We have to be careful about what we say we can be held liable. And you know, I have all this responsibility. Is that what you were getting? Or were you getting any answers?

I wasn't getting any answers. I later figured that out. On my own or with the help of others. It's like every single person felt that way. You know, this, this school board said, Well, we're not going to move. You know Michael Gibbs, because he's sick and because of one irate, hysterical housewife because if we do that for you, we have to do for all 407 children who attend the school. So it's like, oh, wow, there's all this liability where these children are gonna go they have to open another school. You know, Michael Lachlan was worried that just about Occidental Petroleum. He was worried about Goodyear, he's worried about Asheville trollee and Ellen street the City of Niagara Falls was owned and operated by the chemical industries. There was like 40 Some industries in downtown Niagara Falls that controlled everything happened in the city.

You go to the legislators as well, asking to help you at least relocate, right? What happened there.

Legislators, the legislators come on saying prove to us that you were harmed as a result of these chemicals. It's like it's not our job to prove to you that we are harmed. Are you our legislators, you have a whole health department. You have David Axelrod, the health commissioner or Whelan you know, and they all come and say, well, we'll show us demonstrate to us. And it's even true today and in the world I work in now, which is it's always a victim who has to prove that they are a victim, as opposed to the health department coming forward and saying, Well, let's, let's check this out. Let's see what's happening. Let's let's test your hypotheses and see if it's true.

So you go through some blood tests, right? Blood tests are given. What was the feeling at this point? Among the homeowners? Well, let me ask you this first. You wanted to organize, you felt the need to organize the homeowners. At that point, there was no organization Am I right? It was kind of every neighbor learning something but how did you how did you how did you attack that?

Yeah, there was no organization in the community. I mean, that your normal PTAs and stuff like that there was no kind of organization to deal with this issue. And so we went out to organize around the school so a lot of people think we organized around getting evacuation from the get go, that was not so we began to organize to close the 99th Street School, seeing the City of Niagara Falls and and the school board refused to close it. We actually did a petition and took it to Albany, New York, actually, on August 2 1978, the day in which they made the emergency declaration, but we had no clue about that. We got this petition, went door to door had people sign it and you know what's really interesting is that people often talk about those who work in the industry and how it's, it's the environmentalists versus the workers and it's, you know, this versus that. Do you know that only one door of the 853 doors that we we collectively knocked on was slammed in our face? That the people who worked in the industry knew the dangers that were in a backyard, they understood and one worker said one family said the chemical in my backyard is a chemical I get paid extra to work within the plant. So we knew it was dangerous, but we didn't we didn't really realize our homes were dangerous at the time. So we organized the parents movement to close the 99th Street School.

And there was another school as well.

There was a 93rd Street School but we didn't think at that time that the 93rd Street School was at risk as I didn't think my home which is three blocks from the center of the canal was at risk. I believe that the people in the first two rings of homes as they were later called 99 Straight 97 were at risk. You could talk to them. You could see their children or were sick there was rashes everywhere people were just you know, it was just horrible to do they would tell you stories about miscarriages and birth defects and children and cancers and, and deaths in their family crib deaths every year just all these horrible things in this tiny little two blocks of homes. So we all understood it was probably the school and later we came to understand there's probably the first two rings of homes. What we weren't there thinking it was my home on a 101st street or 100 and second, or 100 and third. At the beginning we really just thought it was a school in those first homes.

And initially, the evacuation was just for the people closest to the Epi Center, right? Close the first two rings and that meeting where people got quite emotional about your children who were over the age of two, because it was two and under. I might correct.

Right you had if you were pregnant or had a child under the age of two, you could be evacuated. It was like oh my gosh, it's like the canaries in the mine. What he told me and what what happened? What happened to the child who's two years and six months? Were more importantly, what happened to my pregnancy because I'm eight months pregnant. Now you're telling me it's dangerous if I'm pregnant there. I'm eight months pregnant. I lived there for eight months carrying my baby What is wrong with my baby? There was panic everywhere and justifiable because not only not only did they make that announcement, but there was nobody there to talk to the families about what that means my job. Most of us are high school graduates working in the chemical industry and listening to chemical propaganda everyday for work and the newsletter. And suddenly this happens in like, what is this mean? What does it mean for me? What does it mean for my unborn child? Was it mean for my child who's now three and a half years old and live there for that? What does it mean and there was nothing I think one of the things that Love Canal that was just demonstrated the wrongdoing by government was the fact that they would never bring people there to explain why these decisions. Why this and what happened to the others. The blood tests you mentioned, all these children are coming for blood tests. What are we looking for? No one would tell us are we looking for cancer? Are we looking for chemicals? Are we looking for disease? What are we looking for? We're we're checking the blood. What are we looking for? No one would tell us it was a huge mystery. They had a plan. They knew what they were looking for. They knew look they're doing but they chose not to inform us to keep us in the dark.

And then Family Start moving into motels. This must have been disconcerting for these families. What was that like to suddenly have to move into a motel and not know the future?

Yeah, it was it was again another sort of terrifying thing because I one hand it was a relief so you're out of your home. You're in a hotel your children are breathing safe air. Oh, so you believe and and you're in a safer environment. But the flip side to that is, oh my gosh, we got moved out. We're in a hotel. It's so dangerous, right? That we cannot live in the house. And then by the way, we had to move back to the community. Not everybody went to the hotel and stayed out of the neighborhood. So it was a catch 22 On one hand, it was sort of validation that what we were saying is right, that there was danger there. And on the other hand, you know, it was like, it was sort of scary and awful. Most of our families, by the way, work swing shifts. So for my husband work, three to 1111 to seven in the morning, seven in the morning to three in the afternoon. And so when you're in a hotel and you do swing sets, you can't sleep you have one room for all of you. You can't eat you can't pack a lunch, right? If you're if your shift is three to 11 step to bed but a loving the seven. You know how do you do that? How do you get food? How do you have milk around for the babies? And so you know, it was it was on one hand it was really fun the other hand it was just horrible.

Where did your husband work? Lois? I never asked him.

My husband worked a good year. He was a chemical operator at the plant on 56th Street. That was one of the plants by the way that came out with a high level of vinyl chloride and liver damage in both workers and the surrounding community.

Well I don't know if you want to get into the marriage thing but I know that you you divorced Right. Was it love canal that that caused it and when when you became immersed in this movement? It kind of took over your life.

It definitely took over my life. And and yeah, and to a certain extent it was. But But what what it was was that Harry my husband Harry was the same. You know he was just the same the same day and I'm the one who changed so you know after looking at all during look Cannella have been saying well don't you know as soon as is over and and tobacco be full time mom I'm gonna do all the things we need to do. You don't have to help with laundry anymore shopping or childcare or whatever. And then after the finale, I was like, you know, I can't go back to to being a full time mom. I really feel like I have this this new knowledge and understanding that I need to share with other moms across the country. Because everywhere you were looking then in the media, you were hearing about new love canals here and there and across the country. And so I felt like you know, I really needed to do that so essentially outgrew each other and ended up getting divorced as a result of that.

I want to get into your move to Washington a little bit later but let's let's jump ahead to dioxin. Dioxin from what I understand is probably the most lethal chemical created by humankind used to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam It's that powerful and then it's detected in Love Canal. This change pretty much changed the way people began nationally looking at Love Canal

No, it was interesting. So it it did change to the point where we knew it was dangerous. We heard it was dangerous. We read it was dangerous. We have Google and all that stuff we have today right? So we actually had a library and pick up a book and read it. But when the national media and national scientists and national groups like the Vietnam vets started saying oh my gosh, you guys you really should be worried about this. There was panic. I mean, especially in people like Debbie Cirillo. She looked at 97th Street, and she had the highest level of dioxin in her backyard right next to her swimming pool, aboveground swimming pool. And so yeah, it was frightening because you know a lot. A lot of people our age served in Vietnam, they understood what Agent Orange did, again, sort of like in our community. We had workers who worked in the plant with the same chemicals that their children are breathing this this whole dioxin thing in Agent Orange it was just frightening as all hat and and we really thought that you know it was traveling throughout the community and one of the discoveries they made it Love Canal about dioxin, by the way is that it does travels through the dirt. Originally, they said it doesn't it adheres to dirt and sticks there and so you don't have to worry. And we said no, no, no, you're finding it here, here, here and here. And there's a pathway there. So why don't you test that and so what they found is that dioxin actually does travel when it's mixed with a solvent like an oily chemical or substance. And so it was throughout the community and it was frightening. It was very frightening.

And then comes the chromosome announcement that there's chromosome damage. This was another element that added to national interest and began really attracting national attention. How important was that announcement from the EPA?

Oh, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. That at Love Canal by that time, which was May of 1980 when we began organizing in the spring of 1978. By that time, we were told that we would not go with our best we would not go in our yard. If you're pregnant or have a child under the age of two, you need to leave and of course you can return when your pregnancy terminates. Or your child reaches the age of two. We were told not to eat vegetables out of our gardens. We were told not to go in our basements we were told all this stuff. And then we were told it was perfectly fine to live in luck. That was no problem with living in Love Canal as long as you obeyed all these rules and then it was all of a sudden we have this chromosome damage and like what does that mean? And we found out that what it meant is like, not only do we have a high number of these particular breaks, but it means we're going to have more miscarriages and more stillborn babies and more birth defects of children. But the most important thing the straw that broke the camel's back, is when they said that genetic damage created by Love Canal chemicals that broke these chromosomes in this particular way would be passed down to our children, meaning my daughter and my son may have chromosome damage. And if they have children, their children could be born deformed or stillborn or whatever, because of Love Canal and that was it was just terrified. It's like how can you how can you say that and walk away? How can you say this and that you're not going to do anything and it really was it was about holding your child in your arm looking in that child's eyes and saying you might have been damaged and every child you have if its genetic will be passed on to that child and then next child and the next child that we just that was the straw that broke the camel's back and that's when people really lost it in ways that were frightening to me, personally

and then you have to a EPA representatives coming in, who suddenly find themselves held hostage because the people outside the homeowners headquarters pretty aggravated. That was a moment that really was a moment. What do you remember about that?

That was a moment that that was? So it goes back to when we were talking earlier that the health department makes these announcements and then they never send anybody to talk to the people. And this was yet another example these two EPA officials were hiding out in a motel. There was no public meeting to tell people what this chromosome breakage means. They were only meeting one on one with people who had their blood tested on an individual basis. And so I'm like you come down here and talk to these people. You come and tell people tell them they're going to be perfectly okay if that's what you think. And we call them down and then it literally was not a planned event. It happened spontaneously. People in the front lawn saw them come in circled them to come into the house. And that's where they stayed until we released them. And the truth was, by the way, Marie rice I told this to her 1000 times is that we were really detaining them for their own safety. We weren't holding them against their will but we so we held these guys for five hours and it was frightening. It was frightening at a number of levels. On a personal level. Am I going to jail? Am I ever going to see my children again, this is a federal offense. On a personal level across the street, on the roof, from our homeowners office, on sharpshooters with guns we could see that they were pointed out to us and and frankness Paul, who was one of the hostages he was a public relations guy. He he said Let's see this. You know they can shoot you and kill you dead and never split a hair on my head. And I'm like Oh, no. What am I doing? And then and then we got what do you do? Your whole house like what do you do? There's no manual for this, right? There's no you can't google What do you do? And trying to figure out how, you know how do we manage this? How do we do this in a way that that really makes sense and and everybody's safe in the front yard. There were all of these people who were coming out. People I didn't know people I didn't recognize picking beer. It was getting dark it was that was sort of another level of being scared because I didn't know who those people were what they will do. It was a new story. People were there live on the same all day long reporting out and so strangers were coming to see the action just like you know, Rubberneckers everywhere and yeah, so so it was it was very frightening at many different levels.

And and, and then you added that if the White House isn't looking now, the better look because this could be a Sesame Street picnic compared to what could follow.

Yeah, we did. You know, I had we had to let them go. Who and the reason we have learned go with the crowd is just getting just too loud and too it looked like it was going to explode and good reason. By the way. These are not evil people. These are not disruptive people either. These are mine apple pie kind of folk. But they've had all they can make. And so I had to go out and somehow get the crowd. Free to let go. And so that is what we did is I went out there and talked about how our congressmen were false was meeting with the President and that he would talk to them about this issue. And we wouldn't give them so this was Saturday. We would give them Wednesday, noon, to evacuate us and if we didn't get an evacuation then it would look like a Sesame Street picnic at noon to what we're doing today. So that was sort of a shot across the bow and a way for people to say yes, and then to get the hostages out before anybody got hurt, including the hostages,

And helping the cause your cause was actually an actress Jane Fonda and her husband, Tom ate there on the scene. How important was that and anticipate anything like that happened?

You know, it was very important. I did not anticipate it that they were coming with Ralph Nader to to Buffalo for an event and they swung by Love Canal and agreed to come and help us. And here's what was really important about and first of all, Jane and I are still friends today. We got we got arrested together on Friday. In December of last year. We that was her prior fire drill Fridays here in DC. But like, what was important about Jane is she brought the national media with her and the national media because right now we had to put pressure on the President of the United States who was running for office again for his second term and it was very iffy. And so we needed to get his attention. We need his people to say oh my gosh, these homemakers in Love Canal are making you look really bad and so we have to go and appease them. And so Jane Fonda coming brought that media attention in which we should say, President card you got to do the right thing. I mean, even even with the hospitality. We said President Carter, you have Wednesday till noon. We we we always put in and that was one of the important things about the media. Is that we always put the person's name out there that we needed to pressure who could make the decision to change the outcome, whether it was governor Hugh Carey, whether it was Cuomo later whether it was Carter, you know, that that was the only way we could get enough people to say, Oh, well, why is he doing that or why? When they're all he's actually did

You recall President Carter's earlier visit at the airport when the signs were being held up and Governor Kerry said, Okay, lower the signs, he sees the signs. And then and then President Jimmy Carter admitted that, that the governor was was taking more of an initiative than the White House and kind of admitted that he wasn't quite, you know, maybe not doing enough.

Yeah, well, that was the that was true. And what I discovered later, was that the state did not want the federal government involved, did not want EPA involved, did not want Health and Human Services, the ones who helped with the chromosome study was part of the EPA did not want anybody at the federal level involved. They wanted to hold the thing themselves. And in fact, at one point, I went to David Axelrod's office. He was the commissioner of health and I asked him in Albany, I asked him in his office, why is David roll for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, not here, and it's a federal as a federal health agency that we've been wanting. And he said, I don't know I invited him and he just hasn't come. And I'm like, Well, I talked to him. He told me he never received an invitation. So here's what we're going to do. We're going to pick up your phone right here on this desk. And we're going to call David, and we're going to personally invite them both you and me to come to Love Canal. And he's Oh, that won't be necessary. I forced them to call David. And all of a sudden, then we had EPA involved. That's where the chromosome study came from. That put a number of other things happen. The New York State did not share with President Carter, the White House, the EPA anything except for what they had to. They wanted to keep it all in house. And the reason for that is a chemical industry. I mean, New York and if you look at Rochester, I mean it's not just Niagara Falls, in which the chemical industry controls an awful lot. Of New York, New York's economy outside of New York City. And so they were beholding to the chemical industry and Love Canal was gonna set all of those nasty precedents. That is going to change the way they do business. Change the way lawsuits happen, change the way people look at health and environment. It was going to change things and they wanted to change as little as possible.

You know, you mentioned when we rise earlier, before we get to the President's big visit where we covered so many aspects of love. Library in mind, which you know, Where we rice earlier, before we get to the President's big visit where we covered so many aspects of Love Canal and there's one story that sticks in my mind which actually reminded me that about a week ago is that house that was moved out of there. And Marie was standing right in front as the as the House passed by her. And why would somebody want to move their house when the house might have been infected?

Yeah, well, you know, that's what America is really good at letting people just be stupid if that's what they want to do. That's what democracy is about. I don't know why he moved his house. He was convinced that it wasn't in this house that the chemicals had not seeped through the woods and then the furniture and stuff like that. And so he hadn't picked up and literally moved in. And by the way, sadly to say he moved it by another dump that he didn't know was a dump went out there and bought the land, but actually would wind up to another, but you know, people I mean, that's the thing that we have to embrace as a society you know, I wouldn't ever do that. In fact, I didn't even think my furniture and I was like, I don't want anything. You know, I went to Goodwill and bought my first sofa after I moved. But, you know, people are different and they think differently and they don't feel the same urgency or the same level of risk. And, and that's what makes us work so much harder. It's like, you know, it's like people believe that a tiny little bit of chemicals that you maybe can smell but certainly can't say can no way harm you like dioxin, for example. It really can't create those kinds. of problems. And it's a real hard, hard, hard thing to try to educate people about.

To watch so I can go up from the podium and stay on top. More than 12,000 communities we've helped folks out tell you, what's in your community, what's in the air, what's in the water was buried, what's being transported through to manage all of this information that people can now use and organize around like they did in Philadelphia to stop the trains from coming through. There were, you know, bomb trains, I literally bombed trains that if they crash, they were going to blow up and half the building was going to go with it. So you know, I've just watched people, you know, just do some amazing things and it's just been extraordinarily rewarding over the years.

And a lot of that right to know legislation started in Western New York, I owe in chemical from steel job, Assemblyman Joe Pelletier at the time was leading that fight. And you mentioned the strong union movement in western New York was responsible for bringing this to the public light that teeth were being loosened in the chemical plants and there was lead dust I believe in the government steel. The right to know really, this is all hitting at the same time Love Canal, the right to know legislation and, and West Valley, West Valley which you know, today is also still a very big issue. But I also wanted to ask you your what do you think? What are your concerns now? We have a new administration. President Biden, what are your hopes climate control he's made as a really major, major issue. Are you concerned that perhaps the, the toxic communities may take a second seat to to the issue of global warming and climate change?

Well, they often do. I will say one thing that President Biden before he was President, and I shared a podium in Delaware together, in which I didn't have a watch and he lent me his watch. So I could go up to the podium and say on time, and he really does understand toxics environment. He he gets it. He's dealt with it in Delaware. The question the question is always the same though, and he's made a promise that he is that these things are connected climate and environmental justice and toxics in the community. However, nine out of 10 times what happens is in this happens in all government, so it's not just white is that they look at the bigger picture. How can we save the most people or protect the most people and that's when climate always Trump's a community, like West Valley or a community, like the one in Delaware or or Baton Rouge or you know, somewhere else, that those are contained problems and that's what we've been struggling with for an awful long time. And I'm hoping the Biden camp will will address this, that that, you know, in Port Arthur, Texas, they're making the fossil fuels that are creating the climate change problem. And underneath those fossil fuel plants are low income brown and black families who cannot believe because of the chemicals and was a pandemic this year. They're much more susceptible and they're dying at a huge rate because it's a respiratory irritant. The chemicals and the pandemic of COVID 19 is a respiratory attacker and and it's just an they have to shelter in place. It's just insane. So I am hoping that he's he says he's connecting climate, fossil fuels and environmental justice brown and black people living in these toxic communities together. I'm hoping he does that. But historically, it's always been since since 1990, it has always been how do we protect the most people? And that is like a climate change issue. And it's true and it's not the takeaway from that. I think fettucine incredibly important. We need to do and, and we are working on it. But we we also know the smaller numbers of people who are dying in these communities because they're, they're really 53 million people. So it's a smaller number in reference to the population with a world population that's impacted by climate. But 53 million people it's a lot of people that need protection today, so I'm hoping you will

You know, most so many years after Love Canal, we went back together. I know you paid us a visit. And there was another problem people would move back into the Love Canal neighborhood. And I just remember you couldn't you were just beside yourself. I mean, how we you know, the warning signs were out there and everything was out there. This This was the first super fun, you know, this was the first and yet people move back now. How did how could that have happened? And there were lawsuits now.

Yeah, I mean, I think it was twofold. One it was the it was the lies and the rhetoric we know what lies do when especially when they're repeated over and over again by people in power and authority. The lies who say that the northern end of look and I was perfectly okay to live in. That was a lie. And but it was, you know, the City of Niagara Falls revitalization committee, the state of New York that the you know, Niagara County Health Department, you know, all of them. They all repeated this line over and over and over again, and people believed it. And part of the reason they believe that is because they got a $250,000 house for $70,000

The City of Niagara Falls revitalization committee, the state of New York, you know, Niagara County Health Department, you know, all of them. They all repeated this line over and over and over again. And people believed it. And part of the reason they believed it is because they got a $250,000 house for $70,000.

It was it's a good deal right? And many of them thought they would just live there. It was homesteaded. So they had to live there for five years as their primary residence, but they were going to live there for the five years, sell the home and go buy a home somewhere else where it was cleaner and safer and at least there was less questions. But what happened was people move in they started getting sick, and they couldn't move out. And you know, when they were discovering the chemicals in the backyards in their basements, just as it was before, then nobody's gonna buy their home, right? Like it's no longer $270,000 home or a $300,000 home. It's now worthless, just the same as ours were and so people got caught in this trap and that was unfortunate. And I think the other thing is that it was affordable housing. That was the other it was really cheap housing. And they were lovely homes and and so people were sort of this one woman I spoke to had two little girls and she said she could buy the house there and and she you know, she was asking me not to pass judgment, but she said how dangerous dangerous is it really miss Gibbs because we're living now it's drugs and crime and other things. And you know, I could get that house in love for now. And you know, removed my two daughters from all of this other dangers. And so it's waiting, you know, in the richest country of the world. We shouldn't have our people moms moms have two little girls single mom, two little girls had to make a decision between living where there's crime and drugs and raising their daughter verses where there's toxic poison, but the rest of it's okay. That's that's the society we live in today. It's really kind of sad. So, in closing, Lois, how How are your kids doing?

How are your children? My kids are doing fabulous.

My son in just ran a 50k marathon yesterday in the snow in the ice and rain and he's healthy as a horse and doing really well. And my daughter is in Austin, Texas. Who got three inches of snow yesterday.

And she has she has three beautiful grandchildren that are all perfectly healthy. So I've been truly blessed. Wonderful. Well, we're expecting maybe nine to nine inches to a foot coming our way again in the live in Texas. That's you know, that's just a dusting here in Western New York. You know that.

Thank you so much Lois, for taking time with us. Tom, did I leave anything out?

I'm gonna unmute myself. But can I ask one question, would you mind?

Am I unmuted?

I can hear you. Okay, good. First off, fascinating. Thank you so much. I just love sitting here listening to this.

I teach a class in journalism. And I showed them I showed a lot of the kids the Love Canal stuff, file footage, and they were fascinated and here's my concern and I want to ask you this question if you could pass along some advice to these kids, because I think a lot of them as freshmen reporters, make the same mistake that the mayor made with you thinking just a mom, what does she know? What did these people know? The government says it's safe, it's fine, and they blow off the story. If you're a freshman reporter and you come across the lowest gifts of 1978 in the NL situation, Mo What do you tell them? What's your advice to them?

I have two pieces of advice. One you could you could be a hero like Mike Brown. If you were to look at closer at some of these situations, and you could you too could break open this whole new arena of reporting. I mean, he did laying waste and he did all that he was the dude right for a long time. And that's because he talked to Karen Schroeder and you believe Karen Schroeder and he took it step 234 And five, everybody else blue Karen showed her up she was a mom was sickly kids and whining about it and her pool popped out of the ground. I mean, what kind of weird woman is this? So So really to look look beyond? Don't Don't assume what you see and what you think is real, I think is really, really, really important. And I think the other thing is that if you look at what has changed and when we're looking at social justice, so whether it's a civil rights or the women's rights or the peace movement, whatever, or environmental, almost all of them came from nobody's raising a flag about something. You know, a whistleblower, a woman who started organizing a newbie campus because she wasn't getting paid the same amount of money for the same work as a man. Right and and these are these are, these are the opportunities the Rosa Parks of the of the world, right, that these are the opportunities to really tell a story in society that is so important for people to hear, understand, and hopefully take some steps to change down the road. But it almost never comes from the governor or the mayor. It almost never comes from corporate executives. It generally comes from you know, a teacher at the University of homemaker who smell something weird. A worker who blows a whistle in a way we're seeing this in a pandemic with the vaccines and what's going on with that right. So so those are the people who are more likely to make your career then choosing to ignore them and go interview the governor was just going to give you whatever talking points is a communications person gave me this morning.

Great if I thank you so much. You're welcome. Let me just say, let me just say on camera, just to close out the interview, Lois, thank you Lois, thank you so much. For sharing so much of your life with us and the influence you've had on Western New Yorkers and the country and what you're continuing to do with your life in such an amazing way, bringing about all these changes.

It's just really an amazing story. Thanks for everything.

Thank you. Talk to you later.