JF Ptak Science Books Post 2573
The heavyily-lithe text of an article in the Scientific American Supplement (1877) on the virtues of the Odorless Excavation Apparatus Company of Baltimore isn't so much "acrobatic" as mentioned in the title of this post as it is "aromatic" (or worse yet, "aroma-acrobatic"). The OEAC of Baltimore was performing a daily routine of high importance and necessity--except that there was a high possibility of offending brittle social virtues if there was a description of what the company actually did without using far too many words. (For example: "The discharging of the contents of privy vaults during the hours of daylight, and without offence or danger to health, as well as the utilization of the matters taken from them for fertilizing purposes, has been a problem long and slow of solution.") This was 1877, after all, and people really didn't write too much about Daily Functions and the technology for dealing with them outside of the deep-end product of manure--and then there was a lot to say about that. Having said that, dealing with the absolutely necessary job of solving night dust/waste/dirt issues was just a difficult thing to do, in print. You can't have the Second Industrial Revolution without people, and you can't have the people without housing them close together so that everyone could get to work, and you can't have closely-housed people without water and the means of getting rid of that and body eliminations, otherwise the nasty biological stuff can ensue. And thus you are left with the great need that nobody really cares to discuss.
Here's an example of some meandering and circuitous sentences from the 3000 words article, ideas trying to get somewhere:
"To complete this system and render it applicable to
the most extreme cases, as to difficulty of removal of the
material, the plan shown in ﬁg. 6, and called the “ pitting”
apparatus, is resorted to, and consists simply in covering the
approaches to an outhouse with a kind canvas awning,
from which is led a ﬂexible tube to the deodorizer, to destroy
the effects of the gases and odors generated in the disturbance
of the material inside. The awning likewise excludes the
operation from observation.
"This plan is only resorted to
in cases where the contents of the vault has become from
long standing or other causes so unyielding as to preclude the
use of the pump, in which case it is simply removed by
digging, which, in its comparatively solid condition, is not
by any means so disagreeable an operation to the workmen
inside the awning, as was the old bucket system with the
more liquid contents. In this way it is removed in the day
time without offence to either sight or smell."
[Image of the privy door covered by tent, with the special apparatus, as described above.]
And then in all of it there's quite a bit of Found-Poetry in the discussion of the removal of collections of night dust:
"So far as the deprivation of these deposits of their odors is concerned, it may he said that, if a tithe of the expense
and trouble were expended upon them with this view that is nowadays lavished upon the modern watercloset,they might be made
as comfortable, convenient, and unobjectionable in every way
as the best of them; and that while they may be so readily
discharged of their contents, and in a manner so entirely un-
objectionable as is done under the system shown in the
illustrations, there can be no necessity of their ever becoming
offensive or dangerous."
At the end of the day the article made its point and impact, and I have no doubt that there was a good amount of positive feedback for the Odorless Excavating Apparatus Company of Baltimore.