Smokey and the Water Pipe

Sometime during the winter of 1969, the Twin Oaks water pump stopped working. The pump was old, and was submerged more than 40 feet in the ground, attached to lengths of 4” white PVC pipe that brought the water to the surface. The well was located in a small fenced area adjacent to the barn, and which a friend of the community was using to corral his horse, Smokey.

By the time we were able to obtain a pump, it was late evening, and the temperature was falling rapidly. We assembled a crew to lift the pump out of the ground, careful not to bend the pipe too much, which was brittle because it was PVC and it was cold. Inevitably, the pipe fractured in several places, requiring the broken ends to be sawed off and rejoined with couplings and glue. Fortunately, the community had the required fittings and I gathered what I needed into a brown paper bag and set out to repair the broken pipe.

Did I mention that it was cold? By the time I had gotten everything together and started to make the repairs, the rest of the crew had disappeared, except for Smokey. Smokey was lonely, and, as I discovered, pretty smart, and had a sense of humor.

As I began my first repair, Smokey wandered over and watched. I was a little worried that he might step on the pipe lying on the ground and create new breaks that would need to be repaired. That was not his intent. Instead, he followed me to the next break site, and when I dropped the paper bag containing the couplings, he grabbed the bag in his teeth and trotted to a distant corner of the corral, turned around, looked me in the eye, and dropped the bag. When I approached, he picked up the bag and trotted to another corner. After several iterations of this game I finally got smart enough to go get some help.

With someone to hold the horse, and others to assist with the repairs, we had the pump back in the ground and filling our pipes with water within an hour.

I still remember how cold it was that night. And I still smile at the memory of Smokey and me playing keep away with a paper bag full of PVC couplings.

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About Jesse

My name is Jesse Blatt. My first name is actually “Ramon,” but I haven’t used that name, except for official purposes, since 1970. I have a high school diploma and a PhD…nothing in between. I’ll get around to explaining that in a post sometime. From time to time I will be posting true stories from my past, though not in any special order. I’ve been fortunate to have had a dozen or so different careers, most of them very satisfying, some fairly frustrating, and none that I wish had never happened. In my many former lives, I have been a mail clerk, radio and TV engineer, radio announcer, electronics engineer, college instructor, psychologist, research consultant, Federal employee, supervisor of research professionals, computer programmer, web designer, instructional designer, construction site handyman, and carpenter, not necessarily in that order.
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