No. 245



Have you ever heard of the Fly Proof privy program? Just in case you havent, it was an important part of American history, at least to the people who were involved in building them and especially those who used them, back in the late 1930s and forward. This was part of President Franklin Roosevelts WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION, also called the WPA that was known for building bridges, dams and even National Parks. But outhouses?

Its true! Our government built nearly 1100 of the outdoor toilets in Nevada and countless more in other states to help improve the lot of Americas poor during the Great Depression. The Fly Proof model was so much better than the others because they had a deeper pit and superior ventilation and you didnt have so much smell and flies, says Clarence Godecke, whose childhood outhouse still stands on the Milky Way Farm near Minden, Nevada.

This information was part of a newspaper article that was sent to me by Marion Hanson who reads my column in the Fallon County Times, published in Baker, Montana. a few weeks before I received this article from Marion she had sent me a four page hand written letter in response to my column The Good Old Days. Apparently what I had shared in this column had set her mind in orbit because she went back and recalled many things from her past that was not only very informative but also thrilling to read.

Here are just a few of the highlights. My father and mother came to Montana to Homestead in 1909. They were neighbors five miles apart in Minnesota but they didnt know each other. Dad went back and loaded an immigrant car with necessary things to build a shack and plant a shelter belt. Mother worked at a restaurant and later at a half way place south of Baker where wagon trains spent the night only a mile from her homestead. The folks were married in 1914. By then dad had a two room house built on his homestead and a root cellar and barn.

I remember field work all done with horses, water carried to the house, big garden put in and lots of canning, both fruit, beef and chicken. Oh yes, we ate good. I was born in 1917 and folks had a car by then with side curtains until 1924 when car with glass windows came along. She continues, Following High School and married in 1937 my husband was making $50.00 a month. In 1949 we purchased the Willard store and I became the Postmaster. There were 30 active years at Willard, my husband, a mechanic was also the Mayor and Fire Department Chief. We took first aid and home nursing and one time I almost became a midwife. There was no electricity until 1950s.

In 1979 she and her husband moved to Baker and he passed away in 1982. Since then she has been very active and has been doing things on her own. She is involved in the museum, RSVP, Council On Aging, Church and quilting for missions, Senior Citizens, Homemakers, guest at school lower grades telling of rail trains coming to Baker in 1908. In 1998 she was named Montana Mother Of The Year and traveled to Atlantic City for National Convention.

Well how about that? I have called her A grand lady from the Treasure State. For me, here is what she said that capped it all off: Im working now in Baker for Community Development. We dont want our town of 1800 people to fall apart. Mrs. Hanson, if there are many people like you there wont!! EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)