Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/422

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Messrs. Editors:

A LETTER in the "Christian Advocate" for March 22d denies the charges made in my article in the "Monthly" for March, as to the unhygienic condition of Ocean Grove during the crowded periods of past seasons. An editorial in the same number of the "Advocate" and another two weeks later call attention to this letter, and challenge "The Popular Science Monthly" "either to prove or retract" these charges. The editor, who says that he is "without personal knowledge" of the conditions of the place, assumes that Ocean Grove has been slandered from anti-religious motives, and avers "that the determining reason which animated the singling out of Ocean Grove for special mention as a sinner above all others in sanitary matters was, . . . because it was, as the writer phrases it, a religious resort."

Now, the writer indignantly disclaims the charge that the question of religion presented itself to her mind. It would, indeed, be a strange association of ideas that could make her attack on bad sewage an assault upon religion. Moreover, it is evident that this editor was not only "without personal knowledge" of the place he champions, but that he was also without personal knowledge of the article which he criticises. Otherwise he presumably would not apply the masculine gender to a writer giving a name purely feminine, nor complain of the "singling out of Ocean Grove," when it was one of six places mentioned, and only twelve lines were given to it. That I was not alone in my criticism is naively acknowledged by the editor in characterizing it as "one of various unwarranted attacks," and in his saying that "Ocean Grove has not been excepted from the unfavorable comments" that have been made on various sea-side resorts, and that "the intimations have continued and become rumors detrimental to the character of the place as a health resort."

The letter above referred to is from the Rev. E. H. Stokes, President of the Ocean Grove Camp-Meeting Association. Mr. Stokes says: "All our large hotels, and many of our larger cottages, eighty in number, have sewer connections . . . The sewer runs up into the camp-ground occupied by tents, and takes off all the deposits, both of privy and cesspool from there. The grounds on which the tents are located are thoroughly raked over every morning, and the air is pure." From the writer's personal observation extending over a period of three summers, she denies that the sanitation of Ocean Grove was then even tolerably good. Her account, written in August, 1882, on the spot, and sent to the "Monthly" in September, did not overestimate the crowding, nor the effects of the imperfect means which existed for removing fecal accumulations. This was matter of common repute; everybody could smell the vile odors, and many physicians denounced the unsanitary condition of the place. Both the State and the National Boards of Health took notice of these things in their reports for 1882. The former states that in Ocean Grove "the system of water-closet disposal is varied, and depends too much upon the will of each family. The town should ultimately adopt cither a public system of weekly dry removal, or connect all closets, both in-doors and out, with a sewer system." It is further advised because Ocean Grove is "so much of a camping-place for the summer, that to the parts thus occupied the strict rules of military sanitary police should be applied and executed by an inspector constantly on duty." "The Sanitarian" for April 5, 1883, published an abstract of a "Report on the Atlantic Coast Resorts," made by E. W. Bowditch, C. E., to the National Board of Health, in which is this statement: "The watering-places on the Atlantic coast of New Jersey are all more or less in a transition state; few have adequate water-supplies, and none are supplied with sewers." Dr. Bowditch thus practically ignored the attempts at sewerage made by the authorities of Atlantic City and Asbury Park, as well as of Ocean Grove.

These authorities, and the statement of the writer's own experience, will perhaps refute the "Advocate" editor's assertion that, "without knowledge of any facts, the reckless charges were penned," and the still more vigorous language of the Rev. Mr. Stokes, who arrogates a thorough know ledge of the five other places criticised, when he writes, "I pronounce the whole article false"! A virtual confession of the truth of the charges is made by the activity displayed during the winter in remedying the causes of complaint. Faults in construction of the Asbury Park sewers have been remedied, and some eighteen thousand feet of sewer-pipe have been laid in Ocean Grove. Fletcher Lake, which last summer was filled with muck, has been cleaned out