Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Lovecraft Hated Horrible Smells

I found this little - ugh - gem on Sunday afternoon on the 23 November 2010 but could not bring myself to post it before Thanksgiving.

Imagine you are Howard Lovecraft. You are sensitive to all kinds of strong smells. In fact they make you ill. Especially anything that reaks of fishiness - a type of degenerative amine smell.

Now, do you have that firmly in your mind, Horror Lover?

Now, imagine you are attending Hope Street High School, a community school with all sorts of boys, from all sorts of backgrounds. And read this complaint by the Principal of Hope Street in 1912. While it is from several years after HPL attended, the conditions were explicit, and the conditions had lingered from the earliest days of the school.

Read on ...

As principal of the Hope Street High School I beg leave to present the following report for the year ending June, 1912:

...I wish to call attention to the condition of the boys' toilet room. At the time that the school was built the style of urinals installed was antiquated. At the Classical High School, which was erected a year before the Hope Street School, the urinal system is modern and hygienic. Even in the English High School, which was built many decades ago, the system is at least sanitary. At the Hope Street School the urinals are offensive, both in odor and appearance, and a positive menace to health. The toilet room is situated opposite the lunch room, and the caterer has spoken frequently of the noisome odors that permeate the basement. Teachers notice the odors as they pass the staircase on the floor above. Even pupils complain. The principal has done his best for several years to get these conditions abated. The means he has employed have been those of applying to all committees with any kind of jurisdiction over the high schools, including the Committee on Hygiene and the City Property Committee of the City Council. I make one more plea to have these offensive conditions removed at once and a modern and sanitary system installed, preferably one with standing slate and constant flow.

Charles E. Dennis, Jr.,

Welcome to the underside of Young Howard's world.

I can only envision that the urinal was of a trough method that gravity drained to a central area, and that there was no stain-resistant or non-porous barrier. Therefore, probably only highly permeable wood and mortar formed the back-splash? Otherwise, the conditions must have been intense.

Again, imagine you are Howard Lovecraft in that environment.


Magister said...

Ouch! Poor HPL!!

pamela said...

indeed ouch Magister!
Poor HP!
Maybe that's why his school attendance was so sporadic?
Love your blog BTW, been a fan of HPL for years and years!



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