Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We don't need no stinkin' rats!

By the time 1934 rolled around, Franklin County was fed up.

With rats, that is.

A headline in the Democrat (if a headline could scream!) boldly proclaimed:


Banquet To Be Served
Rodents on Tuesday 
Night, Oct. 6


It's doubtful the rats received engraved invitations to the feast, but the story spelled out what was in store for the little vermin.

"Arrangements for the county-wide rat banquet have been completed and the number of people commenting on the campaign and inquiring about the bait indicates that an unhappy time awaits the rat population during the next two weeks."

A rat
The term "rat banquet" could be interpreted a couple of ways, I suppose, but we get the drift of it.

"Requests for the bait have been pouring in at the various places where it will be available on the banquet day, showing that people are determined to do their best to oust Mr. Rat, according to R.L. Zell, county agricultural agent."

Ousting Mr. Rat ... clever!

I've found nothing substantive to suggest that the rat population in Franklin County in 1934 had reached anything resembling epidemic proportions, but the story suggests strongly that the vermin were indeed a significant problem.

Drimia Maritima
As if rats are not a problem at any other time.

But for farmers, rats have always been carriers of disease, destructive to stored crops and a nuisance near livestock, especially hogs.

Turns out, "Richard Ashely of Whitewater Township, who used this type of bait two years ago, reported that he gathered up a half-bushel measure full of big rats, old rats, little rats and all kinds of rats following the banquet night."

Ewwwwwwwwwwwww ... a basketful of dead rats! Be still, my heart.

"Many questions have been asked the county agent about the prepared red squill bait. He refers to the authority on the subject, the federal Bureau of Biological Survey, who state that the main reason for using red squill is the fact that it is deadly to rats but relatively harmless to humans, pets, and livestock."


So you could stash this stuff right up next to the cornmeal and be fairly safe. It's actually quite herbal, from what I've read. Only a rat could love this stuff, however.

"The prepared bait is put up in tight tin cans and all a person needs is a can opener and a teaspoon to serve the rats the evening of the banquet."

That's all you need? Whoa!

What's great about this stuff was that there were "three separate cans, containing fish, meat, and cereal, in a package. This is enough to bait the average premises."

Hardware, eggs, rat poison
Indeed, a banquet!

"Letters have gone out to all parts of the county announcing the campaign. Order cards were enclosed for the convenience of those who cooperate."

Price for this concoction of deadly gruel? A half-a-buck and available at several places around the county, including the Jinks Store in Fairfield.

Stores in nearly every community in the county offered the red squill in such notable outlets as Perdine's store in Blooming Grove, Wm. Hart's place in Sharptown, Fosler and Son in Laurel, Carroll's in Peppertown and at the elementary school in Bath.

What? The school?

Rats have ceased to be a problem in Fairfield.


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