Uncle Sam's Chamber Pot
Troy, New York
In the early 1970s the city of Troy, New York, tore down the building that was once the home of Samuel Wilson, who a lot of people believe was the inspiration for Uncle Sam. It's a decision that Troy later regretted, and in 1993 an archeological dig was conducted at the site to see if anything could be salvaged.
What was found was put on permanent display downtown at the Rensselaer County Historical Society. The artifacts include one of the doors from the house, some clay smoking pipes -- and Uncle Sam's chamber pot.
"It's a wonderful, beautiful chamber pot; it's gorgeous," said Rensselaer County historian Kathy Sheehan. The decoration circling the bowl looks uncomfortably like a tapeworm, but there seems little doubt that this really was the porta-potty of Uncle Sam. "It's an Uncle Sam souvenir that very few people know about," said Kathy.
Also on display is the red, white, and blue costume made for Ed Wachter, the most famous Uncle Sam impersonator of all time. He posed next to Uncle Sam's grave for a classic vintage post card (reproduced in the second Roadside America book), but his career highlight came in 1961 when he visited the White House, dressed as Uncle Sam, while President Kennedy signed a congressional proclamation officially declaring Troy the hometown of the cartoon character that Ed portrayed so well.