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Grand Rapids in 1856

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The Garbage Burner

The Garbage Burner

GRHC - May 15th, 2011

This episode of Glance at the Past may not be for the faint of heart. It is about dogs, cats, and a crematorium.    



Warning: This episode may not be for the faint of heart.

Mr. Ketchapaw, manager of the Grand Rapids Garbage Company, a private concern that had charge of garbage collection, was a candidate for the newly established position of manager at the municipal garbage department in the early 20th century.

Mr. George Fortrell, head of the garbage burner, spoke about his job under the old system. In this position Fortrell was called upon to put cats and dogs out of this world. The Grand Rapids Press reported, “Forty-three dogs went through the crematory last week, and as in life, so in death they were chasing cats, twenty-one of which led the way through the fiery furnace.”

Fortrell said, “You can always tell when license time comes around because of the large number of dogs that bid a long farewell to the woes of this world. The dogcatcher hasn’t begun work yet, but owners of dogs know that he is coming and they are now taking time by the forelock.”

“Naturally they don’t like to kill their own dogs,” said Fortrell, “and so we always accommodate them. If they bring dogs down to the burner along with a bottle of chloroform we do the rest. The owners go away with minds at peace, certain that the municipal executioner will give the bow-wows a peaceful passage.”

The aptly named, Mr. Ketchapaw achieved his goal and was named manager of the Municipal Garbage Department in November of 1906.


Full Details

TitleThe Garbage Burner
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, radio, garbage burner, crematorium, Grand Rapids Garbage Company, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringMay 15th, 2011

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