Personal experience drives a point home

By Carol Walker

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A few weeks ago I related the pros and cons of constructing new public restrooms in Hill City, possibly as a Business Improvement District (BID) project. It wasn’t but a week later that I experienced my own personal story regarding a quest for a restroom along a trip to visit my daughter and her family.

She told me to be sure to stop at Reva, S.D., on Highway 79, the last pit stop before Dickinson, but looking at the map, I thought I must have misheard her as there was still Reeder, N.D.,  to pass through on the way. I was wrong.

By then 79 had become N.D. Highway 22, and I turned off into Reeder to find what I needed. Driving down Main St. on a Thursday morning, the only place that showed any life was the post office. Stopping there for information, I was told, “No restroom in this town. You can go 15 miles east to Hettinger or 10 miles west. Sorry.”

Though she seemed a tiny bit apologetic, it appeared she had her response down pat, perhaps from numerous requests over the course of each year. I know there had to be a restroom in the post office, but probably by federal law they could not let the general public use it. I understood that allowing exceptions to the rule would quickly become the norm.

I wasn’t about to go east or west. I was going north to Dickinson, and I was going to gamble that I could make it. Where are the entrepreneurs who might install a pay toilet in order to make a profit? Why wasn’t there a sign upon entering Reva, “Last restroom until Dickinson?” Like Don Quixote, seeing the whirring windmills, I began to imagine, why couldn’t those towering giants standing on the prairie, be conquered for just a smidgen of power for operating a bathroom? Or why couldn’t someone just build an SST (sweet smelling toilet), the name given to pretty fancy outhouses built in places like Custer State Park?

On the miles of open road, I was also pondering the public restroom issue in Hill City. We don’t need anything extremely fancy, only something clean and functional, something that serves the public.

However, the public may have become a little more discriminating in recent years. As people are constructing homes today, the bathroom has become increasingly a place to loiter and luxuriate. I read about one made entirely of marble and glass, while another has a fireplace within the room. In Dubai, there is an underwater restroom, surrounded by a huge aquarium, and the Guinness Book of World Records cites a $2.3 million bathroom made entirely of gold.

But for tourists who are seeing the grandeur of Mount Rushmore or Custer State Park, they are not looking for marble, glass or gold in a public restroom, nor do they want a place to lounge around and luxuriate. They want to get in and out and be on their way.

I did make it to Dickinson and all was well with the world. On the way back to Hill City Sunday morning, I made it a point to stop at Reva. Sign on the door said, “Closed on Sunday.” Thank goodness for the little store at Hoover further south.

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