I saw her smiling like a kid at the beach as she came down the dock.
I thought I knew why but I didn't have to ask. As soon as she got
close enough to speak without telling everyone else, she said "We
had our first flush!" She didn't say if it was ceremonial or
functional but, no matter, it was an momentous event in that house.
For most of a century, the place was served by an outhouse. In the
last few decades, under her new ownership, attempts have been made
to modernize the plumbing. At the same time, rules about septic
disposal have tightened to make improvements difficult on that site.
Chemical toilets were tried but the results were unsatisfactory.
Then an electric toilet was installed but the costs were prohibitive.
And it didn't help at all that inexperienced users would dump water
in to "put out the fire."
The breakthrough came when new technology reduced the need for a
large disposal field by some active pretreatment of the waste.
Now, with a little more complexity, a fairly troublefree system is
feasible. And that's a cause for celebration there.
Most of us take indoor plumbing for granted now. It wasn't always so.
Grandad told me that, when he installed the first "water closet" in
Salem, NH, some fellows assured him it was a fad and wouldn't catch on.
Those same fellows probably had to eat their words as soon as their
wives found out about the new "fad."
Now, a century later, the fad continues. And, one by one, the last
of the old ways disappears as new ways are found to solve an old problem.