In the late 19th and early 20th centuries "sawdust" was commonly spread on the floors of pubs, cheap restaurants, butcher shops, and other businesses to soak up spilled drinks, mucus, blood, and worse. Sawdust-covered floors are mentioned in Lestrygonians, Eumaeus, and Circe, and a comment from the narrator in  Cyclops suggests that some establishments used "straw" from the same purposes.

JH 2020

5 July 1921 photograph of restaurant in the Lanier Hotel, New York City, with sleeping mousers and sawdust on the floor, from 5x7 glass negative owned by the Bain News Service. Source:

Turn-of-the-century meat market, place and date unknown, with sawdust on the floor. Source: