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4. UNSANITARY CONDITIONS IN COUNTRY HOMES.

BY DR. LUCY M. HALL, BROOKLYN, N.Y.

“The world moves. The trouble is, we don't keep up with it.” When we consider the progress which has been made in sanitation as a science within the last twenty years, we involuntarily exclaim, “Ah, how the world is improving !” But, while indulging in this well-founded enthusiasm, we must not forget how small are the numbers who make up this advance guard of promoters and protectors of the public health. They are as the apex of a triangle, from which extends an ever widening area of ignorance, steadily deepening in degree until it is closed in by a broad base, where the obtuseness, the utter absence of knowledge of everything which pertains to matters of hygiene, remains unmoved and untouched in the old ruts of half a century ago.

That the majority of the dwellers in our great cities are living out their allotted, or rather greatly abridged, span of existence amid surroundings many of which are directly or indirectly unhygienic, we have daily and hourly evidence; for, whether we peer into the aristocratic twilight of an up-town mansion or the murky gloom of a fourth ward rear tenement, we find conditions and habits of life which are at war with the best teachings of sanitary science.

This being true of the city, the grand focus of sanitary lore, it is not strange that it is even more markedly true of the country, where new ideas are at best but slowly disseminated. The doctor who advised his patient to throw her sick child out of a fourth-story window, as offering a better chance of its life than a sojourn in the country, held extreme views, I confess; but his prognosis could easily be verified if a little margin for selection of locality were allowed.

“Now do come to see us! At this time of year the farm is just lovely, and the house is always the dearest old place. It is precisely what you need! Come next week.” This enthusiastic but somewhat fragmentary invitation having been duly accepted, I appeared at the appointed time and place, with the tiniest of gripsacks, and was greeted with a degree of cordiality which left nothing to be desired. But, as we approached the really fine old homestead, one of the young ladies who had met me at the station remarked, a little ruefully: “Really, our house is a hospital just now. Father has malarial fever, has been dreadfully ill, too. Mother's rheumatism has come on again. My eldest sister is wretched, though we don't know what ails her; and — well, you know that Lou and I are never well." Yes, I did know the latter; and that was one reason why I had wished to visit the much vaunted home of these fragile girls.

One glance showed a large, roomy house, surrounded by a close growth of trees, evergreen and deciduous, their dense shade allowing scarcely a flickering ray of sunshine to fall upon the mossy old roof or closely drawn window-blinds. The trees extended all along the walk from front and side doors to the gate; and over the stunted hedges which bordered these walks lay a gauzy fleece of cobwebs and mildew. The pebbles of the walk were fiecked with green mould; and, though it was a sunny day in midsummer, I drew my wrap about me with a little shiver as I passed across the veranda into the darkly shaded hall. To the right of this hall was a large sitting-room, faintly lighted and heavy-aired. To the left was the best parlor, dark as night when we entered it, the hastily turned slats of a window-blind revealing a room so dismal, so hopelessly sepulchral, with an atmosphere so horribly and distinctively its own, that I shudder at the recollection of it. After a few heroic gasps, I weakly begged that my entertainers would not make company of me, at the same time venturing to remark that I liked better to be out of doors than in the house. As I stepped forth from that Stygian gloom, I heard with joy the slats of the blind snap to, the faint bang of the sash as it dropped over the six inches of ventilating space, the rattle of the heavy shade as it was pulled down over all; and I inwardly prayed that I might be spared a further acquaintance with that terrible room.

The sleeping apartment assigned to my use was large. It had one small window, covered in by mosquito-netting, opening from the bottom for a space of five inches. Suffice it to say that, except in the dining-room, I saw no room in the house which seemed ever to have been ventilated or to have welcomed a sunbeam upon its damp-stained walls. The out-buildings were either attached to or within a few feet of the house, and their effluvia were added to the already burdened atmosphere.

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I learned from scraps of the conversation that the family had suffered greatly from ill health, and that new-comers almost always became ill after a short residence here. The most astonishing thing of all was that the thought seemed never to have crossed the minds of any of these good people that there was aught which was insalubrious or that needed to be changed in this the home of which they were so proud. The next morning I took my departure, thankful that the little grip-sack confirmed my statement that I had run over for but the shortest of visits. The rich milk, the luscious fruit, the cordial urgency of my kind enter tainers, though tempting, could not outweigh the awful fear that, if I remained, I might again be ushered into that best parlor, or the dread of passing another night in that mouldy room, with the five by twenty inches of ventilating space.

So strong was the impression made by this little incident that, during the wanderings of two summer vacations, - partly in New England, partly in the Middle and Western States,- I systematically investigated the condition of a considerable number of farmhouses, sixty-five in all, — and received reports of many more. Character of soil, number and situation of shade trees, age and construction of the house, windows and their management, location of bedrooms and living-rooms, condition of cellar, water supply, location and condition of out-buildings, disposal of waste, and health of occupants were especially noted. The gathering of these statistics was a matter of much interest to me. One particular type of house was usually found to prevail in a certain locality, and the same held good with regard to ailments. Remarks like the following were often heard : “Oh! nobody has a cemented cellar around here"; "Yes: the cellars are nearly all damp"; "Well, I guess nearly everybody in these parts has more or less rheumatism." In this way, the histories of a few houses might fairly be considered to cover a much larger number in the same region.

The more important of the observations recorded have been condensed in the following:

1. Soil : In New England, the proportion of houses erected upon sandy soil was 27%; in the Middle States, 14%; in the Western States, 27%. Proportion upon loamy soil : in New England States, 62%; in the Middle States, 19%; in the Western States, 60%. Proportion upon wet clay: in New England States, 11%; in the Middle States, 67%; in the Western States, 13%. 2. Too closely shaded : In New England States, 50%; in the Middle States, 49%; in the Western States, 62%.

3. Age of houses: In New England, the average age of the houses visited was 49 years; in the Middle States, 40 years ; in the Western States, 19 years.

4. Sleeping-rooms on first floor : In New England, all (some having two, three, and four thus located); in the Middle States, 99%; in the Western States, 84%.

5. Sleeping-rooms not warmed in winter: In New England, 72%; in the Middle States, 24% ; in the Western States, 19%.

6. Shut up “best parlors," and house in general kept too dark: In New England, 85% ; in the Middle States, 68%; in the Western States, 60%.

7. Condition of cellar, damp or wet : In New England, 60%; in the Middle States, 93%; in the Western States, 80%. In

; half the cases, the cellar did not extend under the whole house. In a few instances there was a cemented cellar.

8. Well in house : In New England, 18%; in the Middle States, 14%; in the Western States, 23%. Distance from barn: in New England, nearest, 20 feet; average, 464 feet. In the Middle States, nearest, 25 feet; average, 117 feet. In the Western States, nearest, 20 feet; average, 118 feet. Distance from privy: in New England, nearest, 15 feet; average, 281 feet. In the Middle States, nearest, 5 feet; average, 33 feet. In the Western States, nearest, 30 feet; average, 66.) feet.

9. Barn joined to house : In New England, 55%; elsewhere,

none.

10. Privy joined to house: In New England, 55%; in the Middle States, 14% ; in the Western States, 19%. Without vault or ventilating shaft : in New England, 72%; in the Middle States, 14%; in the Western States, 39%. Nine-tenths of all in bad condition. 11. Slops thrown from back door: In New England, 77%; in

; the Middle States, 40% ; in the Western States, 26%.

12. Diseases : Of diseases noted, rheumatism ranks first in frequency; lung affections, especially phthisis, second; diphtheria, third ; typhoid fever, fourth; bowel troubles, fifth. Of the houses visited in New England, a history of rheumatism was found in 70%; in the Middle States, 81%; in the Western States, 80%.

; Ditto, giving history of lung affections: in New England, 93%; in the Middle States, 76%; in the Western States, 65%. Ditto, giving history of diphtheria : in New England, 93%; in the Middle States, 70% ; in the Western States, 15%. Ditto, giving history of typhoid fever: in New England, 55%; in the Middle States, 9%; in the Western States, 27%. Ditto, giving history of bowel affections: in New England, 50%; in the Middle States, 33%; in the Western States, 4%.

A great deal of what was probably malaria was reported under various names. Nervous troubles and general break-downs gave an average percentage of 32. Melancholia, cancer, and diseases of heart, kidneys, and throat also held a prominent place. In nearly every case, the condition of the premises was a positive index to the health history of the occupants.

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In the arrangement of the homes, probably the most faulty conditions.of all were found in connection with the sleeping apartments. To have at least one bedroom upon the first floor is the

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