1. Archive

A project worthy of an ode to a commode

It's not that a lot doesn't happen in my little adopted hometown of Dade City.

All that stuff I've written over the years about Velveeta being on the gourmet shelves in the grocery stores and all of us going over to the service station at night to jump on the cord and make the bell ring has been just window dressing.

(For those of you too young to remember "service" stations, the bells were to call people named "attendants," who would actually pump your gas, check your oil and clean your windows. Really.)

It is true that one night when I ordered wine through the bulletproof glass of a convenience store, I was asked, "Cork or cap?" _ thereby put on the spot in front of my date, who would have been forever humiliated if I said "cap."

And it is true that the city has more auto parts stores than restaurants and more pickup trucks than taxicabs.

But it is a tightly knit, fun little town and not without its cultural events, even if the best attended of them are car shows.

And to show you that I do take part in Dade City's infrequent but fervent celebrations of itself, I want to let you know that on Wednesday I joined a crowd of 40-some persons who were on hand to watch the ribbon cutting at the opening of the city's first downtown public restrooms.

And even though the bathrooms will be named in honor of Rotary International founder Paul Harris and the Dade City Rotary Club, I did receive the honor of being called on to make the first flush, which I did gleefully.

But with fame and recognition, as usual, come those who seek to turn it into opprobrium.

"I've been complaining about there being no bathroom for years," whined C.T. Bowen, Pasco editor of editorials for the St. Petersburg Times. "I don't know why you got to flush it."

I reminded Bowen, gently, that most of his complaining was done when he worked at Brand X, meaning hardly anyone ever saw it.

But, as Dade City Commissioner Hutch Brock pointed out, the really important thing here is that we have bathrooms, and, more importantly to him, we have an example of private/public partnership at its best.

The Dade City Chamber of Commerce donated the lot, and builders, companies and individuals donated cash, material and labor to complete the project.

And there has probably never been a better planned bathroom in Florida. It has been the subject of surveys, studies and a planning committee that has been meeting for two years, for most of which I have been providing a sort of classical Greek chorus, quoting Moses, saying, "Let my people go."

And I can never, it seems, write about the issue without reminding people that nearby San Antonio took a pass on the public restroom issue in 1976 when it could have used Bicentennial funds to build them. It decided, instead, on a sprinkler system.

(Another note to the young: Sprinklers were things that used to spray water on grass, back when we still had water and grass.)

And now, I'm sure, some wag will ask what major sociological issue will I address now that the lid is closed on the bathroom issue.

Have no fear, cities on the North Suncoast are chock-full of windmills to joust at, and Zephyrhills, because of a conflict of interest, is the only one I have to leave alone.

I was, I'll admit, a little bothered by one thing during Brock's presentation Wednesday.

He said I had harped on the issue with columns that he described as "humorous" and "sarcastic."


A big soft teddy bear like me?


Hutch Brock calls me sarcastic?


Like he'd know.