Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Old Pump

The old pump sat outside of the brick school house. Kids vied to pump the handle, women carried water-filled buckets into the house for cooking and cleaning. Water was no longer drawn from a bucket dipped into a well. Now the pump handle was pumped, drawing the water to the spout. A little more work than turning on a faucet….and a lot more fun for children.  

I did a little research on Wikipedia to find out when tap water came into the house. Indoor plumbing developed in the last quarter of the 19th century and was common by the middle of the 20th century. I think I remember the pump on our porch. I was very little at the time. Mom actually fell through the boards over the well. It was a little hole. She didn't go far.

I grew up with pumps as much a part of the landscape as were the barns that dotted the farms. Old pumps seldom used but still a standing reminder of the days when my parents attended a one-room school house and when hot water was achieved over a fire. Pumps stood outside of homes, next to barns and even outside of Painter Creek Church.

The pump stood sentry over a cement trough. I don’t know if the trough had any drainage. I do recall our trough at the old barn occasionally wore a blanket of moss. Brenda and I would ask Dad to put water in the trough, so we could wear our flowered bathing suits enjoying our little outdoor pool. Rain that fell filled the wells and the troughs. Via the birds small tadpoles would sometimes find a new home in our little pool. The pump and trough were so much a part of our daily living that we forgot to notice.

On a trip long ago back to Neff Road, I took my camera to capture these remnants from the past. Some of the one-room school houses were now residences while some remained empty. Wells sat in school yards unnoticed. My grandmother had taught in a one-room school house. I could envision her standing on the stoop of the old brick school sending her students out to play. A child would pump the old pump handle and small hands would cup gathering water for a cold, fresh drink.

The old pump is a reminder of simpler time, a time when children fought for the right to pump the handle, a time when women appreciated the handiness of a pump on the back porch, a time when small girls sat in the cool trough giggling not realizing that they were sitting in a piece of history.

The old pump.

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