Strolling on the sidewalks in the early 20th century in Kansas, one might have noticed some of the bricks were stamped with “Don’t Spit On Sidewalk.” This motto was the brainchild of Dr. Samuel Crumbine, the secretary of the Kansas Board of Health from 1904 to 1920.
Dr. Crumbine was ahead of his time when it came to preventing the spread of infectious diseases. He realized that people tended to spit anywhere, causing their germs to be scattered about. By implementing a public program against this practice, he hoped to stop the spread of tuberculosis and other diseases.
To help get the message across, Dr. Crumbine took his idea to a Topeka brick manufacture and asked to have the phrase imprinted on the bricks. These would then be placed in the sidewalks. At first, the manufacture resisted, but Dr. Crumbine was persistent. To get the doctor to leave them alone, they relented and the result was that every fourth brick produced would be imprinted with the slogan. Soon, other brick manufacturers picked up the idea and the bricks made their way into sidewalks around the state.
The McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation has an assortment of over 30,000 artifacts in collections. In an effort to share some of these we will be posting some of the more eclectic examples for your enjoyment. We hope to see you in the future. Until then, stay safe and well.