For example, Crawford says a citizen might report that on the corner of Second and Market streets, a woman empties her chamber pot out of the 3rd floor window under the cover of darkness “so as to create a nuisance.” The Committee would then send someone to watch the house. If the act were repeated, the person would be fined and the watcher would receive a bit of reward money.
But not all the tales were true. At the time, cows, chickens and other animals had free reign to graze around the city. If a cow happened to die on a street corner, the city would dispose of it and fine the owner. However, she says some people were fined even though their animal was very much alive.
She envisions writing her book during retirement, which may not be for another five years. Until then, she’ll keep hunting for more information and instruments that reflect medicine’s past.
What attracts Crawford to this unusual hobby can be summed up in several words: “The good, the gory and the gruesome,” she says. “I love that.”
Carol Patton, a freelance writer based in Las Vegas, Nev., writes the Rheum after 5 column for The Rheumatologist.