It’s hot out today. Kish and I were taking Kasey for a walk, wilting a bit under the harsh sunshine, when we passed a house where the owner was watering the front beds using an old-fashioned, tilt back and forth sprinkler — and the memories of childhood summers came flooding back as vividly as if they had occurred yesterday.
There were five of us kids in the Webner clan. The first house I remember living in, on Orlando Avenue in Akron, Ohio, was a tidy three-bedroom place. Mom and Dad slept in one room, UJ and I shared another, and my three sisters shared the third. It had a small front yard, a small back yard, and no air-conditioning. I think there were one or two window fans and one of those rotating table fans, too.
On the hot summer days, Mom would make lemonade or Kool-Aid, and we’d get into our bathing suits even though there wasn’t a pool for miles. She’d set up the moving sprinkler in the back yard, hold my youngest sister Jean, make sure my sister Margaret didn’t go roaming through the neighborhood, turn the water spigot, and then watch as UJ, Cath, our next door neighbor pal Janie George, and I ran through the cool sprinkler water as it slowly waved back and forth. At first there was some hesitation at darting through the water, but the coolness felt so good that soon we’d be soaking wet, laughing and skidding and screaming and splashing each other. The water from the sprinkler would collect on the grass, and we’d stomp around in that too, and maybe plop down a few times just to get more of the full-body watery effect.
We didn’t mind not having a pool — in fact, we really didn’t think about it, because what could be more fun than a lawn sprinkler on a hot summer day? If we had a sprinkler right now I’d be tempted to take a few passes through it.