End of July, 1981. I was 16 years old - summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school.
It was morning. Early. My dad came into my bedroom and woke me up. Said we needed to get up. This was weird because (1) my dad never entered my bedroom during all my teen years, and (2) my dad never entered my bedroom during all my teen years. I think he was kind of afraid of me at that stage - a teenaged girl with who-knows-what going on hormonally at any given time - even though I was his own kid.
He'd said something about how there was no water. I still didn't know how that equated to us having to get up at butt crack of dawn. In fact, to this day, I still don't.
The thing what happened was, the water main into town broke, so there was no running water for anyone. Nowadays, I hear about water mains breaking and people being out of running water for a couple of hours. In my hometown, in summer of 1981, we went for two weeks.
We'd been made aware of the impending stoppage of water flow. The break was somewhere upstream from town, so until the main was emptied, we still had running water, which everyone proceeded to hoard. In our house, we filled our bathtubs and some big garbage cans. We were not immune to the hoarding.
And then, just like that, the water stopped.
For two weeks.
Several restaurants and other businesses closed. People ate with plasticware off of paper plates. I remember feeling hot and sticky all of the time. Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married while we were having our waterless summer. My best friend and I watched the glittering ceremony on TV while hot, dirty, grimy, and snacking on canned Chef Boyardee with a spork.
And then there were the water buffaloes.
See, the army came to the rescue, in the form of water buffaloes. Not the big cow-looking animals, but these things:
Water buffaloes were stationed at various places, and our neighborhood had one at the end of the street. Each household was allowed a certain number of gallons per day. I don't remember the circumstances, but it seems like it was usually me that was sent to fetch the water. In the beginning.
I'd just walk down the street in my short shorts and flip flops and have the empties filled up by the young, strong, heroic army guardsmen. Maybe we'd chit chat a bit. Then I'd lug the water home.
One evening, my mom came with me to help lug the water. I remember the concerned look on her face as she sized up the young, strong, heroic army guardsmen, then looked to me in my summer outfit as my heart rate probably increased and my pupils probably dilated.
After that, Mom made sure that she or someone else came with me to get the water. Moms.
Eventually, we townfolk were told to open up our faucets because water would soon flow again, and a sudden spike in pressure could break the pipes. We opened and waited as nothing flowed from the faucets.
Then one day it happened.
I remember it clearly. I was bored and went out to pedal around on my bicycle for lack of anything else. I was slowly rolling around on the street in front of our house when I heard the most eerie sound. Like a ghost moaning. Not that I've ever really heard a ghost moaning, but like I imagine a ghost would sound if it were moaning.
I stopped pedaling and looked around, thinking Armageddon had arrived, when lo and behold, water began spewing forth from the lawn sprinklers. From everyone's lawn sprinklers. Cool, clear, beautiful, magnificent water. Came in sputtering at first, but soon flowed like oil from a struck well. It was like Christmas only way better.
I think of that summer every time I flush.
Hookin' up with Mama Kat today
3.) A memorable summer.