Thursday, August 13, 2009

One Reason Why Typhoid Fever was Prevalent in Early Washtenaw County

What were slop buckets or slop jars? Here's a quote from someone who used one:

"Furniture in the lean-to [kitchen] had the cook stove, a working area, a big wooden box for the wood and a "slop bucket". This bucket caught vegetable trimmings, the scrapings of plates (left over food) and dish water [no plumbing!]. It was emptied into the trough for the hogs."

Do you have a slop bucket? Dusty Diary does; a repurposed coffee can with sealing lid under the kitchen sink for coffee grounds, eggshells, and vegetable scraps only. It gets dumped out in the compost heap and rinsed in the rain cistern between uses. The only difference is I don't put my dishwater in the slop jar. And when we empty a new coffee can, the old one is retired, just for sanitary reasons.

But according to this ad from the 1902 Sears, Roebuck catalog, slop jars could also be relegated to a sickroom as a commode, or, in the case of the second one, used both for a kitchen slop jar and a commode. "Does not have to be empty until filled, no matter how long it stands."

Makes you wish you could go back in time and go on a lecture circuit, talking about germ theory and hygiene, given the many, many instances of (fecally-borne) typhoid fever listed as cause of death on old death certificates. There were a lot of everyday things about life a hundred or so years ago that do give me a chill.

7 comments :

TeacherPatti said...

I do, I do! I got this ceramic compost jar from the Kitchen Port and it is great. It lives under my sink and has a lid with a charcoal insert to take away any odors. I also rinse it with the rainwater barrel after I empty it into the compost pile. :)

Dusty D said...

Yep, that's a modern-day slop jar all right--I've seen 'em in catalogs; the nice ones, with the charcoal.

Odd little coincidence there with the rain barrel. :D

Lisele said...

That makes three of us. Why pay YCUA for water when rainwater is free? In fact, I haven't paid one cent to water this garden this year due to the rainbarrels I have rigged up (one is filled by the water in the sump, purified by the gravel drainfield under my house -- the other filled by a drainspout).

Dusty D said...

There's that little "water usage" bar chart on the YCUA bills which I'm sure you're familiar with...this year, with our rain cisterns (and almost NO watering of the garden aside from the water in the cisterns) our water use is down by *half*. Boom.

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