Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Whatever Happened to Pay Toilets?


Remember those pay toilets you used to find in every railroad station, airport and bus station? A lot of department stores, too. You'd drop a nickel in the slot to enter a stall. Down at the very far end was a solitary one that was free, but one look at it and you'd dig around in your pocket for some change.
Those pay toilets were an inspiration for poets. In my dad's day, when you flushed the necessary appliance by yanking on a chain, there often was a note scratched on the inside of the door reading: "They sank the Maine, to hell with Spain, and don't forget to pull the chain."
If you don't know your history, that one may not make much sense. In my day the message found on the door in pay toilets everywhere was more down to earth. Jackie would skin me alive if I wrote the whole thing but it began, "Here I sit, broken hearted, paid a nickel to . . ." The censor said stop right there. You'll have to either call on memory if you're old enough to remember pay toilets or use your imagination if you are not.
While I have numerous memories of pay toilets, I have even more of those that were free. Some memories are good, some I have tried to erase from my mind without success. I don't know about today's Army but during my two wars they didn't have stalls, just a line of stools side by side. In the avarage barrack there were four in the latrine. Transient camps had more, of course.
In the book "Normandy 1944" I told of the most magnifcient latrine I ever encountered. It was in England at a staging area, the last stop before boarding a boat to cross the channel. Seventy-five toilets were lined up on one side of an aisle ten feet wide, 75 more facing them on the opposite side. Imagine it, a 150 seater. Even with that number, after breakfast there always was a line of men awaiting their turn. It was an impressive site, one that could never be forgotten, to look down those longs rows and see 150 men sitting there staring at the guy across the aisle.
To discourage loitering, a corporal paced back and forth calling out, "Let's cut it off short, men, let's snap . . ." When a man would arise the corporal would whirl around like an MP directing traffic and stop crouched down with one arm pointing toward the next man in line, the other toward the vacant stool. Impressive. Unforgettable. Something to think back upon fondly on a summer morn.

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