Booking through Thursday asks this week for readers to turn to page fifty of their current read, and share the first fifty words. As luck would have it, my book started a new chapter on page fifty…
New York City was not unusual in shunting quantities of noxious waste to its backyard. Every American city, up until about the middle of the twentieth century, dumped its rejects on nearby scraps of low-value land — usually in swamps. In 1879, a minister described the situation in New Orleans to the American Public Health Association:
Thither were brought the dead dogs and cats, the kitchen garbage and the like, and duly dumped. This festering, rotten mess was picked over by ragpickers and wallowed over by pigs, pigs and humans contesting for a living from it, and as the heaps increased, the odors increased also, and the mass lay corrupting under a tropical sun, dispersing the pestilential fumes where the winds carried them.
This is over fifty words, but who could cut short such a description? This from Garbage Land: on the Secret Trail of Trash, by Elizabeth Royte.