Portable Sanitation Association International

Association Insight, Sept 1 2021

Issue link: http://psai.uberflip.com/i/1406432

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 27

2 I PSAI Association Insight, September 1, 2021 burying waste in a hole in the ground or dumping it into a waterway, both practices that had been common for centuries. According to Census.gov, 35.3% of all Americans had no flush toilet in 1940. This num- ber had improved considerably over the preceding several years due, in part, to the 1933 Works Progress Administration Plan to alleviate unsanitary facilities on farms and in rural homes. Some 2.3 million sanitary outhouses were constructed, according to FamilyTree.com, most in New England and Southern States. Some of these "Roosevelt Outhouses" such as the one pictured above still exist today. Another factor that helped to spawn our industry was the growth in technology in the early 1920s and 1930s. The growing availability of electricity, automobiles, airplanes, telephones, radio, and movies changed the lifestyle of most people. Americans became more mobile. Movies—also known as "moving pictures"—experienced tremendous growth in California, especially in the small suburb called Hollywood which had consolidated with Los Angeles in 1910. With the explosion of movie production, larger and larger numbers of actors and crews slowly began filming on sites away from the major studios. When "talkies" began in the late 1920s and early 1930s, shooting on location became exceedingly popular. Portable sanitation was needed. There is evidence that wooden outhouses with chamber pots inside for waste collection were used in these locations – mountains, deserts, oceans, etc. While not portable restrooms as we classify them today, these were indeed "portable" and "restrooms." One famous story in which the term "portable restrooms" was used occurred in 1939 with the filming of Gone with the Wind – which was shot in Los Angeles and not in Atlanta. An article in the July 15, 2021 issue of "Reel Rundown," entitled "Clark Gable Desegregated 'Gone With the Wind' Movie Set," the following account was given by one of the actors, Lennie Bluett: "There were dozens of portable toilets set up to accommodate the large numbers who would be on set that day. Above each toilet door was a sign. Some read "White" and on others "Colored." Wooden Portable Restroom Units – A Long History (continued from page 1) One factor that was instrumental in the birth of the portable sanitation industry was waste treatment. Sewage treatment methods were beginning to improve and thus the growing expectation for better sanitation methods. In 1881, John Mouras was granted a patent for the septic tank. As early as 1883, septic systems started to appear throughout the country. The first sewage treatment plant using chemical treatment of waste was built in Worcester, Massachusetts. According to SewerHistory.com, studies estimated sewage treatment as a percentage of population in 1940. The following statistics support the fact that proper treatment of waste was just beginning, and the public was starting to expect better sanitation equipment and more modern methods than simply (continued on page 3) City 1940s Population % of Treated Sewage Chicago 4,400,000 70%* New York 8,100,000 25% Philadelphia 2,000,000 15% Los Angeles 1,300,000 5% Boston 2,000,000 0% *Chicago in 1940 had two activated sludge plants and was treating more sewage than any other comparable plants in the world.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of Portable Sanitation Association International - Association Insight, Sept 1 2021