February is black history month, a time to celebrate the numerous contributions that the African American community has made and continues to make in building, developing and moving this country forward. In doing my daily black history research, I came across an extremely fun and amazing black inventor by the name of Jerome Bonaparte (J.B.) Rhodes. A holder of over 200 patents, Rhodes never received much fame for any of his inventions, however, one, in particular, caught our attention.
On December 19, 1899, J.B. Rhodes applied for a patent for his invention, the water closet. At first glance, it looks like a regular toilet but read the patent.
“Be it known that I, JEROME BONAPARTE RHODES, a citizen of the United States, residing at Shreveport, in the parish of Caddo and State of Louisiana, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Water-Closets, of which the following is a specification.
My invention is an improvement in water closets, and does not so much apply to the closet itself as to an attachment thereto.
The attachment consists of a tube so connected with the closet as to be used, when desired, to spray and wash the rectum, which is sometimes very important when that part of the human body is diseased.”
Sounds an awful lot like a bidet to me. In 1958, Gottfrid Sundberg cited Rhodes’ patent for his “Sanitary spray attachment for toilet bowl” which has been cited in numerous attachable bidet patents.
How cool is that?! Thank you J.B. Rhodes for caring about clean butts as much as we do!