Lessons learned under the water hose

Published 10:00 pm Friday, August 28, 2009

What are you saying, Granma?

“I said … ‘Do you want to go play under the water hose?”

There was hesitation and apprehension, “What’s that?”

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“It’s where you turn on the water hose and play under the water.”

My grandson didn’t even answer me — just shook his head, no.

He went in the den, picked up a book and pretended to be reading. But I could see his eyes peering at me over the upheld book. His eyes followed me – a crazy ol’ woman – across the room.

I started to yell, “Boo!” and scare his pants off, but I held back.

He wanted to go swimming, but his friend had the flu so my best offer was the water hose.

Back in my day, playing in the water hose was unbridled fun. I didn’t get to do it often. That would have been wasting water. But every now and then, though, it was allowed … or done anyway.

However, that was back before technology started to rule the world and folks over 50 became obsolete.

So, why I thought that, for my little grandson, playing under the water hose would be a fun substitute for a chlorinated swimming pool with a diving board and slide, I don’t know.

I guess I’m just simple minded.

But that comes from the way I “came up.”

Young’uns were left to their own devices for entertainment, and the water hose was a rather rare source of fun.

My grandmother kept a water hose draped over the fence in the chicken yard. If nobody was around, my friend Julia Faye and I would take a chance on increasing our opportunities for water hose fun.

One of us would spray the water high in the air and the other would run under it or through it. And we would jump over shooting streams of water, moving the stream just a little higher with each successful jump. But the most fun came when we got the grass and ground slopping wet and as slippery as glass. If we got a good running start, we could slide until we hit dry “ground.” We did fanny slides – those were for wimps, knee slides and, for the daring – standing on the cookie pan slide.

The cookie pan was one that we had gotten out of the trashcan and used for variety of activities, from baking mud pies in the summer sun to water sliding.

Most of our “play pretties” were things that we had salvaged from trashcans. We were champion recyclers. Broken dishes were cherished items because we used them building sand cities. A church with a colored glass window was a thing of untold beauty. Broken jelly glasses made great picture windows for our houses and white pieces of glass were fine tombstones for the graveyards.

But it was a recycled water sprinkler that got us into trouble and put a damper on water hose fun.

We had found the old oscillating sprinkler in the trash pile and used it for a steering wheel on an uprooted tree that we had made into a ship that sailed to far away places.

One day we had the idea of hooking it up to the water hose and playing in the water as it chook, chook, chooked around.

We screwed the sprinkler on the water hose and turned on the water. The sprinkler made one “chook” and stopped. Julia Faye tried to get it going but got her finger pinched in the mechanism and couldn’t get it out.

She started hollering and crying. I put my hand over her mouth so nobody would hear her, but she bit my hand and I let go.

Out came my grandmother, my mama and her Mama and there we stood with the water hose running full blast and Julia Faye’s finger caught in a rusty sprinkler. Julia Faye’s mama got her finger out and marched her home, shoving her along with a tight grip on her humerus. (Mamas could abuse young’uns back then.)

My grandmother turned off the water and “me and Mama” went on to the house where she kept a keen peach tree switch on top of the refrigerator.

Playing in the water hose was risky business at times but, oh, so much fun.

And, come to think of it, that’s probably where those high tech spray park folks got their ideas – from somebody’s obsolete grandma or grandpa who told them about playing under the water hose.