Our topic today is Trivia, so I thought this was the perfect opportune time to expound on what I personally believe to be the two greatest inventions in the history of mankind, the flush toilet and toilet paper. If you choose to doubt me in this proclamation, then try to imagine your life from today on if you went home from this meeting and both of them were gone. I am sure you would not be overly happy.
The toilet was invented by Tomas Crapper in 1884. It was first presented in a large Health Exhibition in London. The items that were used in the original publicized four “flush-test” were three wads of paper, a sponge, four greased paper sheets, and ten apples. As these items were tossed in one after the other, the crowd was amazed by this stunning breakthrough in toilet efficiency. No, Mr. Crapper did not invent the toilet, but he was the first to make a practical and cost-effective system to get rid of body waste.
Before the Crapper design, there were many other toilet designs that were tried that had proved to be either too impractical, too cumbersome, too inefficient, too smelly or just too damn dangerous. There was the compost toilet, which used the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to recycle waste, there was an oil-flushed toilet which used recyclable mineral oil, an electric toilet which used the new amazing electric heating wires to clean and dry waste occasionally with a nasty shock to exposed private parts, the incinerating toilet that used a gas flame to reduce the waste to ash, with unfortunately the occasional excruciatingly painful flareup, and finally the earth closet a pit like well with gears and levers that moved a cover to mechanically seal the waste in the soil below. However, none of these toilets came anywhere near the practicality of the Tomas Crapper design whose basic mechanism was very simple. It used an elevated tank of full of water with a float valve and siphonic action to empty the reservoir of the water and with it, most waste in a single flush.
Almost immediately, this method became immensely popular in the civilized world, and the slogan used to sell this product was “Certain Flush with easy Pull. Will Flush when only Two-Thirds Full”. Today, every toilet (or similar flushing thing) is based on the Tomas Crapper’s original model. This invention immeasurably changed the world and made it a much more sanitary place! This breakthrough has unarguably saved thousands of lives since its creation from the ravages of diseases like dysentery and cholera and also as we have learned some very painful and embarrassing injuries.
After the invention of the toilet, I strongly believe the most marvelous invention is toilet paper. Many people might not agree with this. I mean, “How important can toilet paper be, after all?” Even its very definition is given in the Webster’s New Century Dictionary an absorbent paper, usually wound around a cardboard cylinder, for cleansing after defection or urination sounds…dirty. Who would pay attention or value something that is dirty? Well, let me tell you, something ladies and gentlemen, our whole society has a problem with appreciating little things in life. It’s the same thing with the toilet paper; we don’t really appreciate it fully until we don’t have it. Think about it. You get up in the morning, you drink your coffee, you run to the bathroom, you sit on the lavatory … and you discover there’s no toilet paper whatsoever, the roll is empty! I’m sure that all of you have such a crisis at least a few times in your lifetime. I ask, then what do you do? Of course, there are several alternatives, if you are not living alone you could cry your lungs out hoping that someone in the house would hear and bring you some, you could use that newspaper or magazine you’ve just read, you could use, I don’t know cotton buds, a towel or you could do like the Muslims and simply wash the dirt off with your left hand. But every other thing or method you’d use simply doesn’t work as well for you, and you don’t feel comfortable with it, do you? You know that toilet paper would have been the best thing for you at that particular moment, and you wish to heck you hadn’t run out!
So, unless you relish going back to the good old days in the outhouse with the Sears catalog or a couple of old rags to suffice let us give our thanks to that marvelous inventor Tomas Crapper and also to Joseph Gayetty, the almost unknown inventor of the wonderful other invention, toilet paper.