The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 22, 1904
Spring Cleaning Needed For City
Accumulations of Filth Lie in Heaps in the Streets and Alleys
A Menace to Public Health
Public Spirit Must Be Aroused – Present Condition is Shameful.
“Spring, beautiful Spring” arrived officially on Sunday at one minute and twelve seconds to seven o’clock p.m. in Chicago and as there is a slight difference in time, she was only a little later in getting to Fort Dodge. As soon as beautiful Spring arrived in this town she burst into tears and cried for twenty-four hours without surcease. Why did Beautiful Spring weep? Go out and wander up and down the length of our “fowl” city and see if it is not enough to make angels weep to behold the accumulated filth and microbe breeders and monumental ash piles strewn with tin cans and garbage. Now that the rain has come it will be double dangerous, if those places are not removed and set in order and cleanliness, the very first opportunity. No doubt the Beautiful Spring would stop weeping for a short time, if she understood that Fort Dodge really would clean up at once and then she would burst into the soft gentle tears of a thankful woman, those tears that bring violets and all beautiful things.
Of course after weeks and weeks of waiting and perhaps an epidemic of some kind Fort Dodge might be clean, but why not do it now right away and have something to be proud of. This sermon does not mean your next door neighbor, but you, whoever you may be, who own or occupy a building where the back yard and alley suggests a new kind of vulgar and dangerous inferno.
The Condition in Des Moines.
The Des Moines News is trying to rouse the citizens of that city to the conditions there. Frank Fountain, city scaventer, says it will take 4,000 wagon loads to clear away the vaults and alleys sufficient to insure a sanitary condition. Unless this is done at once it is feared an epidemic of typhoid may break out.
Fountain claims filth has been allowed to accumulate during the past two years. He states two years ago 1,800 loads were taken to the dump while last but 1,200 were dumped, considerable being permitted to remain to swell the accumulation of filth now poisoning the atmosphere thruout the city.
Two years ago jurisdiction in this department was turned over to the city physician, Dr. N.M. Smith.
Mayor Brenton stated today he has had no official notification of such filth or a threatened epidemic, except thru the newspapers, “but that, if this is true, it is high time the health department got busy. I know there are hundreds of open vaults in the heart of the business district, and the business men who pay men to clean the streets in front of their places of business, continue to clog their alleys with filth, which is enough to start an epidemic, if anything will.”
He also says: The city streets are filthier than I ever saw them before in twenty years’ experience as scavenger. Unless something is done at once the threatened epidemic of typhoid will attack the city. (Editor’s note: This “he” is probably Frank Fountain, referenced in the first paragraph of this section.)
Now Fort Dodge is a small place, but a little energy and firmness on the part of the city officials and a little awakening and public spirit on the part of the citizens will make everything come out all right.
There are men on Central avenue that are making so much money doing such a thriving business that they can’t possibly take the time to clean up the filth that they have strewn in their backyards and alleys, and every day of spring weather makes this condition more dangerous and disagreeable.
What Ex-Mayor Bennett Says.
“The most difficult job the city officials have to do, is to keep this town in any sort of decent order and sanitary condition. People who know better will neglect theset hings in a most astonishing way and then be offended because reminded of their duty. We have often had to send the firemen into the cellars of reputable firms on Central avenue, because such piles of paper were allowed to accumulate there that were dangerous to the safety of the city and the easiest way was to send the fire department to clear it out.”
What Mr. Mason Says.
“I have just returned from Southern California and that garden spot of the world, Pasadena. The shock is considerable from the perfectly clean and sanitary conditions which hold in all parts of southern California to the state of things here. As we came up Central avenue, the papers filled the air and were blown about our horses’ feet to welcome us, I suppose, while the receptacles provided for such things stood on every corner. Men will take an armful of refuse and papers out into an alley or sometimes the front of the store, putting them into an empty box that is already full to overflowing without a cover and then retire with a self satisfied glow as of having done all that is necessary. It is easily seen what becomes of these papers. With so little expense and trouble we could have a beautiful clean healthy town, one to be proud of. Why can’t we have it?”