Home Service Corp. Melvindale, MIIf I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.”
— Albert Einstein, The Reporter, 18 November 1954


April 25th, 2014 is “Hug Your Plumber Day”. Some history to better understand the contribution plumbers make to our lives today.
During the middle Ages, in castles the toilet was called a garderobe and it was simply a vertical shaft with a stone seat at the top. A hole in the bottom let everything just drop into a pit or the moat. Obviously there was smell and diseases from the mess. You had to be careful you weren’t walking underneath it when someone was on the “toilet” and take care not to fall into the moat. In the summer time the smell would have been terrible. Some Monks built stone or wooden lavatories over rivers. At Portchester Castle in the 12th century monks built stone chutes leading to the sea. When the tide went in and out it would flush away the sewage. During this period, wealthy people might use rags to wipe their behinds. Ordinary people often used a plant called common mullein or woolly mullein. In fact, people used to store clothes in the garderobes as the smells kept moths away that might otherwise eat holes in them. This is where the word wardrobe comes from.

The typical peasant family of the aptly-named Dark Ages lived in a one-room, dirt-floor hovel, with a hole in the thatched roof to let out the smoke of the central fire not a castle. The floor was strewn with hay or rushes, easy havens for lice and vermin. Garbage accumulated within. If they were lucky, the family had a chamber pot, though more likely they relieved themselves in the corner of the hovel or in the mire and muck outside. Water was too precious to use for anything except drinking and cooking, so people rarely bathed. Heck, they barely changed clothes from one season to another, wearing the same set every day, perhaps piling on more rags for warmth.

These are the conditions which spawned the infamous Black Plague, killing an estimated one third of the European population. Although poor plumbing was not the only cause, the plague serves as the most striking example of misery caused by poor sanitation in general.

The first of several waves hit England in 1348, caused by flea bites spread by insects that Lived on host black rats. They, in turn, fed on the garbage and excrement of the masses. London became largely deserted. The King and Queen and other rich people fled to the countryside leaving the poor suffering in the cities.
Panic, death and despair followed the abandonment of farms and towns. William of Dene, a monk of Rochester in Kent, England wrote, “Men and women carried their own children on their shoulders to the church and threw them into a common pit. From these pits such an appalling stench was given off that scarcely anyone dared to walk beside the cemeteries, so marked a deficiency of labors and workmen that more than a third of the land in the whole realm was left to.” So bad was the “Black Death,” the Great Fire of London in 1666 can be viewed as a blessing in disguise. Though it killed thousands of people, the holocaust also consumed garbage, muck and black rats, effectively ending the plague.
We’ll continue part 2 in our next post. In the meantime, it’s a good time of year to have our trained experienced plumbers solve your plumbing problems whether you live on Grosse Ilse, in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Melvindale, or Oak Park.

Contact us for more information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.com.

Home Service Corporation serving our Michigan customers Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs since 1980.

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