Iowa Public Health Association 

Public Health History: Rural Sanitation - 1912

12 Dec 2018 9:30 AM | Anonymous

Public Health History: A Poem on Rural Sanitation

Submitted by: Dr. Ron Eckoff

The following offering “Rural Sanitation – 1912” is by W.C. Rucker, M.S., M.D., Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health and Marine Hospital Service.  It was reprinted from the April, May, June, 1912 issue of Bulletin of the Iowa State Board of Health.

The happy days of childhood

I often call to mind,

I love to live them o’re again

By memories light refined –

The orchard and the meadow,

And the loft of fragrant hay,

The garden and the privy,

And the well not far away

The farm yard with its litter

Of manure round about,

The milking shed where flies galore

Flew buzzing in and out,

The pig-sty and the chicken house,

The hens that scratched all day

In the ground beneath the privy,

With the well not far away.

We took our joys and sorrows

As they chanced to come along,

My brother had the ground-itch

And he didn’t grow up strong,

And Mary died of fever –

It was mighty sad that day –

But we didn’t blame the privy

Nor the well not far away

In the summer time, mosquitoes

Used to sing the whole long night,

But we would keep the windows closed

And thus avoid the bite,

But Billy got the ague

And Lizzie pined away –

Mosquitoes – foul air – privy,

And the well not far away.

We used to think that death was just

A punishment for sin –

The sin of ignorance I say! –

So let us now begin

To try and get the windows screened

But open night and day,

And a sanitary privy

With the well quite far away.

Let’s clean the cows at milking time,

Let’s clean the barnyard too,

Let’s rid ourselves of fevers

And the chills and ague crew,

Let in the air and sunshine

But drive the fly away

With the ancient typhoid privy

With the well not far away.


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