Jim, Kip, and I are all fairly close in age, so a we did a lot of things together when we were young, especially when none of us had started school yet. Not all of it was especially good stuff, like the time I set the back porch on fire. (Remind me to tell that story sometime.) After I did that (Jim and Kip were just accomplices) Mom put me in nursery school, figuring I needed something to keep me busy.
The world was a different place in those days. We only had five channels on TV, and one of them was WTTW, at the time taking the “educational” in “educational television” seriously. The other four channels weren’t always on when we wanted to watch, but that didn’t bother us. We’d just watch the Indian movie.
We’d get up early on Saturday morning, while Mom and Dad were still in bed, make ourselves breakfast, bring it to the living room (which was at the other end of the house), and sit on the floor in front of the TV in our underwear, watching the test pattern until the cartoons came on and eating Rice Krispies.
We’d find other ways to amuse ourselves, too, like the day we set up a water works in the pantry on Magnolia Avenue. We had a walk-in pantry that was almost big enough for the three of us to get in together and goof around. On this one occasion, I had found a length of plastic tubing (I was always finding stuff like that) and thought hey, we could have some fun with this.
We cut the hose into a long piece and a short one, no doubt with the sharpest knife in the drawer. I got in the back of the pantry, Kip sat about two feet away from me, and Jim’s job was to go to the sink, fill a glass with water, come back (it was about seven feet away), and spit the water through the long tube to me, where I’d catch it in a glass. When Jim went to refill his glass, I would repeat the exercise, spitting the water in my glass through the shorter tube to Kip, who caught it in his glass.
We had been at this for about five minutes when my mother caught us. “WHAT IS GOING ON? For God’s sake, get out of there!” There was, as you’d probably expect, water all over the kitchen and pantry floor, which we were too little to mop up, of course…
Mary asked that I mention that Hammacher Schlemmer had a “Water Works” in their catalog (it’s not on the website). I don’t think it was anywhere near as fun as ours was. Or as messy.