In the old stories that suspiciously start with “in the good old days,” history is romantic or pretty or relaxed and simple. But, sometimes – as we recently found with our Comfort Station – you just can’t hide the truth. After all, the people who were part of history were people just like us. They may not have had computers, or televisions, or even radios, but they lived, loved, had babies, and died. And through it all, they had to, well, take care of their bodily needs. For example, when out in North Lansing doing business or shopping.
So let me place on its academic footing what is coming to light about our Comfort Station. The residue, if you will, of taking care of bodily needs and casting off life’s detritus is terribly interesting to the researcher because it provides insight into daily routines. For example, historic archaeologists often seek the remnants of the outhouse – the receptacle of broken and discarded household artifacts before the modern reliance on sanitation workers. Similarly, those who investigate prehistoric life rejoice at the discovery of a midden – essentially a prehistoric trash pile. Pottery, tools, weapons, all can be the product of these archaeological treasure troves.
In a way, I guess it makes sense that we – a bunch of people who love history – would have an interest in something originally known as the North End Rest Rooms.* Yes, you read that right. The unique resource at the side of the railway tracks that we today call the Old Town Comfort Station was not the romantic little waystop on the Interurban as we’ve been told. It was the public toilet.
Hey, we’re proud of it! We have our history correct and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network is hoping to win $25,000 in the National Trust for Historic Places This Place Matters Community Challenge to restore this little gem. Please support MHPN by voting at: http://tiny.cc/d5f26
Voting ends at 5:00 pm on June 30th, so please don’t delay!
*MHPN is continuing to research the Comfort Station, its associations, and history, so please continue to check back to learn even more.