A Flush Beats a Full House

By Bruce Barron

     It was in the early 1940s when I joined the Forest Service as fire dispatcher on the Goosenest District on the old Shasta National Forest. As customary, the Shasta held its annual fire training and employee orientation school at a recently vacated CCC Camp named "Camp Leaf". The camp was a well designed facility conveniently capable of housing all participants from the entire forest.

     On the first day of camp, I arose just at daybreak and paid a visit to the latrine, (sometimes referred to as the "Oval Office"! ). It was designed for multiple occupancy, with two long rows of seats arranged back to back over a large concrete trench. As I sat there quietly meditating, I wondered how I was going to flush this thing, since there were no visible water closets containing handles, levers or chains to pull. A few seconds later, there was a loud "wham" that rattled the, rafters, and almost lifted me off my seat. Like a giant tsunami, a raging torrent of water went gushing beneath my posterior, and swept the concrete trough clean. When I regained my composure, I got up and lifted a hatch cover at the upper end of the latrine, and found a huge trough shaped tank with one side sloped on a bias. It was balanced on a pivoting system so as the trough filled, the weight of the water would keep getting heavier and heavier on the latrine side, and when it finally went over the center of balance, the entire tank would dump at once, and then repeat the cycle. It was a unique system almost like perpetual motion. The only thing lacking was posted warnings for the uninitiated possessing a weak heart or a tsunami phobia.

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