Monday, February 12, 2018

Oil or water? How would you have liked your streets?

You are actually looking south on Winona Ave. toward Chester Pike, The original Norwood Fire House is on the right. Look at the dirty street and the concrete sidewalks.

Oil or Water?

How did you like your street?

From Darby to Chester and elsewhere street spraying was important to keep dust down. Local women, and I talked to some years ago felt they could not win, especially with long dresses. First, early towns in the 1870's and 80's had cinders, stones and oyster shells for sidewalks or pavement. Some towns then used "boardwalks" for sidewalks and that stopped the dirt on the long dresses, BUT the splinters could tear a dress hem to pieces. Then came slate sidewalks and in some local towns you can still see them, women felt their prays had been answered! A clean slate sidewalk, but even they got dirt on them which led to the same problem.
  Finally in the late 1890's someone came up with the idea of using concrete to make sidewalks, and women's prayers were at last answered, they could go out shopping etc., and not have to worry about those hems anymore. Local women went to boro council meetings demanding concrete sidewalks and they got them.
    But then there was crossing the street. Getting to the other side was not easy. Not till the late teens and early 1920's did streets begin to get paved. Breathing dust was considered unhealthy and keeping the dust down on local streets and out of houses was a local priority. But the best way to do that was another matter. Many towns used horse drawn sprayers that used water to keep the dust down. But water and dirt equals mud and we all know what that does to clothes and dress hems. The other problem with water is that it evaporated quickly and the street was back to dusty in a few hours. Then someone came up with the idea of spraying oil on dusty streets and it worked perfectly!! Lasted for days, kept the dust down, perfect for just about everything except long dresses and hems. Women felt they just could not win, and then came
Women's prayers were at last answered!!

Note below is an article on oil on Media Streets

CHESTER TIMES – September 7, 1916
 Council Authorizes Highway Committee to Secure Sufficient Fluid to Keep Down Dust
                Media Borough Council held its regular monthly meeting last evening and transacted considerable business, none of which, however, was of special importance.  Official notice was taken of the spread of infantile paralysis in the borough and as a method of reducing the possible means of contagion, it was decided to purchase another car of oil to be spread upon the streets to prevent dust.  The highway committee was given authority to purchase the oil.  Council was officially informed of what the members already knew, that the gutters of the borough are being flushed to clean them of any filth which may have gathered there.
                Council was also informed that the water basin has been cleaned, the standpipe scraped and painted and that the supply reservoirs for the drinking water of the borough are in first-class condition.  This report was made by the water Committee, Mr. Michener, chairman, and a little later the report of Borough Regulator C. M. Broomall was read, this containing a statement that excellent water is now being furnished to the people of Media, and weekly reports are being made to the State Health Department at Harrisburg.

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