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Inspection: 1917

Inspection: 1917

1917. "Camp Meade, Maryland. Miscellaneous views." What the garbage inspector said: "This place is a mess!" Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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Fort Meade

I grew up on Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County in the 1970s. There were no WWI building left, but plenty of WWII barracks. Sadly, most of these too are gone, though a few remain. The WWI cantonment is now a golf course. Fort Meade is being extensively redeveloped as part of BRAC. All very high tech and shiny.

Camp Atterbury

I carried some garbage out one day in 1945 and found an 18 year old kid, like myself, separating garbage by hand. He was crying as he worked because someone had mixed meat scraps with other miscellaneous garbage and the whole mess was full of maggots. Almost made me cry watching him.

Best KP Duty in Basic

I got garbage rack duty in Basic Training (1972) the first time, and volunteered for it the second time. Sort the garbage, hose out the cans, that's all there is to it. You are outside and basically unsupervised. San Antonio in Winter was mostly mild and sunny. Only time in weeks where nobody is yelling at you or watching over you while you do something -- the most freedom a guy could ever dream of while in Basic. I did get a new field jacket after the TI (think Air Force DI) got a whiff of me during formation right after the second go-round. And we were still separating the "edible" waste for the pig farmers then as well.

Orders are (side) orders

"Okay, we're agreed then. It's stew again for the boys tonight."

It's what's for dinner

Visiting a friend at Fort Lewis in Washington state in the 1980s, I was amused at the trash cans outside the mess hall that were marked "edible garbage" and "inedible garbage." Still not sure what that meant, but it may go a long way in describing Army food.


When I was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia back in the 1960s, our mess halls had heavy steel garbage cans labeled "slops." Everything edible that was left over from meals was scraped into those cans. Several times a week, local hog farmers would come and pick those up--and feed the contents to their contented piggies. Yum!

Don't you know there's a war on

Their version of recycling has little to do with "going green." It does have a lot to do with saving war materials. Cans for metals; fat and bone for explosives (bone meal is high in phosphates); vegetable waste probably for fertilizer; grease again for explosives; paper for recycling into more paper; bottles for glass.

What the Mess Boy heard

"Sir, is lard fat, or is it grease?"

"I don't know, Private. Let's just seal it in a bottle and put it in the bottle bin."

"Sir, yessir!"

Way ahead of their time

These guys were way ahead of their time when it came to sorting trash and recycle items. Now, if they'd only had some CFLs.


Separating waste materials by type; good for them. Note no "Plastics" bin yet! That building is probably still there!


Looks like the US Army was way ahead of the game in respect to going "green." Each can is clearly labeled as to what type of waste should be deposited.

Recycling c. 1917

I never knew that people separated their trash like this in 1917.

Not a new concept

Looks like once again we did not learn anything from our past. They new it was wise in 1917 why did it take us so long to get back to it?

[The gylcerine in waste fats, as in World War 2, was used to make explosive munitions. - Dave]

Early recycling?

Interesting that the trash was being sorted by type.

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