I’ll admit that I’ve enountered a few memorable toilets over the years. First, there was the eccentric elderly neighbor who deemed certain bodily functions inappopriate for the great indoors and relegated them to a ramshackle old outhouse that had seen as many or more years than she herself had. Then there were the restrooms at a certain state park in Upstate South Carolina, made remarkable not by the fixtures but by the “natural” surroundings … complete with a six-foot long black snake that slowly began uncoiling itself from the base of “my” toilet about the time I — as a 10-year-old — became aware of its presence. A few years down the road came the pay toilets of Europe — particularly the lavatory outside Versailles. (After all, one would think the maintainers of one of the world’s most gilded palaces, situated in one of the wealthiest suberbs of Paris, could provide free “accomodations” for visitors!) Then came the squat toilets of Asia — odd at first, but arguably more hygenic than their seated counterparts if properly maintained.
But World Toilet Day isn’t about functional toilets, however strange or humble. It’s part of the World Toilet Organization’s efforts to create a healthier world by providing toilets to impoverished areas and improving sanitation worldwide. According to the World Toilet Organization, some 2.6 million people worldwide live without toilets. Your donation of even $1 can help improve sanitation in impoverished areas and reduce the spread of disease.
November 19th also marks the the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s delivering the Gettysburg Address, the death of the Ford Edsel, the first Cold War meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, and the beginning of the end for lip-syncing pop group Milli Vanilli.
Finally, November 19th was the birth date of Ruby Inez White. Can’t place that name in your memory of world events? That’s OK. The eldest of a sharecropper’s 13 children, Ruby White didn’t make the history books. But she did make her way all the way through school during the Great Depression and on through nurses’ training in an era when few higher education opportunities were available to women (especially poor women). Most important to me, however, she went on to marry a certain Parker Holliday, give birth to my mother, and become a beloved grandmother.
Grandmama Holliday passed away in 1989. But during the fourteen years she was a part of my life, she taught me to celebrate not just the holidays, but life itself. Thanks, Grandmama. I love you.