McAvoy Layne

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August 19, 2014
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Pine Nuts: Crapper the greatest inventor of all time

So, who is the greatest inventor of all time? Archimedes gave us pi and the screw 200 years before Christ. Around 1600 Galileo gave us the telescope and a compass that actually worked.

Nikola Tesla gave us alternating current in the 19th century, and then Thomas Edison “borrowed” some of Tesla’s inventions and filed more than a thousand patents of his own, including the light bulb, phonograph and motion picture camera.

These guys were inventive, but to my mind, midgets to Thomas Crapper.

I ask you, do we call the screw an Archimedes? Do we call the telescope a Galileo? Do we call alternating current, Tesla? Do we call the light bulb an Edison? No! But do we call the flush toilet a crapper? Yes! Hail to the Chief!

Thanks to Thomas, we have the bluest and purest water in the world in Lake Tahoe. The Village of Incline’s effluent is piped down into Washoe Valley somewhere, I know not where and don’t really want to know where. But Thomas gets no credit. Thomas gets no respect, and why? I can’t tell you why, because it’s not dinner table talk, that’s why.

Upon perfecting the flush toilet in 19th century England, Thomas became royal plumber to the Queen, and, as such, with all those royal toilets, had a lifetime of happy employment, not to mention the royal nickname for his masterpiece, “The Throne.”

Thomas Crapper has been fondly memorialized in Nevada with the craps table, along with the common expression “crapping out” and the worldwide expression “I don’t give a crap.”

Born a year after Mark Twain, in 1836, Thomas died in the same year as Twain, 1910, so they saw a lot of the same crap — the automobile, airplane, telephone — so many of those once useful inventions that have become so expensive and annoying.

Interestingly, Mr. Crapper pioneered the one-piece pedestal flushing john in the same year, 1863, that Mr. Clemens took his nom de guerre, Mark Twain, neither of which were well known in Virginia City at the time. But by the end of the century, both would be in full bloom.

Today you can get a Crapper-Mapper that will tell you where all the crappers are in the neighborhood where you happen to be standing, and, too, you can order a Crapper-Clapper that will flush your john with a clap of your hands. Thomas must be smiling.

I’m reminded of a letter I received once from a lady in London who was about to fly to Nevada to visit Tahoe. She was particularly interested in visiting old Tahoe homes. As she would be staying with me, she inquired, “And what about the WC?”

I naturally assumed she meant the Whittell Castle and wrote back, “Oh yes, it’s only five miles down the road and is open Thursday-Sunday.” She never wrote back.

To learn more about McAvoy Layne, visit www.ghostoftwain.com.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Aug 20, 2014 05:25PM Published Aug 21, 2014 09:04AM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.