That is, Stream Of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt is to use the phrase, “once upon a time,” leaving the whole thing pretty wide open.
“So there’s a sump pump in the basement,” the realtor said. She was thirty years old and had a figure like a model and a face to match, which was surrounded by a halo of big red hair, like a TV weather-girl.
“But first, some history. Once upon a time a family of four–Carl Jung’s archetypal family, you might say, a mother, father, studious son, clownish, jester son, or June, Ward, Wally, Beaver–lived in this house,” she said.
“One spring afternoon Father and mother went to the store in the family’s only car, a 19-something something-or-other, and left the boys at home so they could do their homework. Studious son sat at the kitchen table and worked on his math while clown-like son returned to the basement with his hacksaw to work on his extracurricular project involving cherry bombs and one-inch copper tubing.
“Father and mother returned from the store carrying two grocery bags. They saw studious son working away on his math and praised him for his studiousness. ‘We should celebrate having such good children,’ he said, and pulled a bottle of Champagne from one of the grocery sacks. He pulled the cork and there was a loud pop.
“Too loud, actually, and strangely stereophonic in nature. It was followed by repeated, rhythmic clumping sounds as jester-son ascended the basement stairs to the kitchen. He burst in. ‘We’re gonna need a bigger sump pump!’ he declared.”
The prospective buyers, a young couple, she pregnant, he staid in his gray suit, and a toddler son (who had been quietly reading a brochure for ARS MATHEMATICA) all nodded in unison.
“Stop,” said mother. “You had me at ‘sump pump.’ We’ll take it.”
The svelte, big red haired realtor frowned. “But I haven’t shown you the granite counter tops.”
5 thoughts on “SOCS”
I remember sump pumps. Shit planning by the original builders. A neighbor’s house being dug up all around the waist, perforated plastic pipe and gravel added to drain away the water that seeped into their basement. Took all summer.
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Not at all. In most cities, sump pumps are required if there is no ground level entrance to the basement (walk-out basement) The perforated tubing around the foundation is meant to collect water that would otherwise enter the basement, and send it off to drain somewhere. The sump pump is a requirement precisely so water won’t get above basement floor level.
In older construction, true, the sump pump is an ad-hoc thing, usually to correct drainage problems that developed over the years. They are almost never needed if grading and rain water collection around the house is done properly, and maintained.
The philosophy of house construction up through the 1950s was to make sure water drained away. Houses shed water, not repelled it. Window ledges were angled downward so rain water would not get in. Siding was overlapped and angled downward for the same reason. There was no caulk, and no need, really. Now everything is just nailed in place and caulked, and sump pumps installed as insurance. Windows are pathetic and keep water out only as long as it takes for the “builders grade” caulk to dry up and crack.
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Our house in Berkeley had a sump pump. It was built in 1925 and water must surely have drained naturally as we were more or less on a hillside. But, there it was. Maybe having a basement was unusual. The outlet was run under the house to the front yard through a garden hose. After my mother bought the place, a plumber saw that and was disgusted and replaced it with real piping at no charged. Mom was 38 and single, that might have had something to do with the pricing.
Wow. I can only imagine what Berkeley must have been like in 1925. Was it more built up because of its proximity to the city? wait…well I don’t even know when the Bay Bridge was built. I guess the peninsula must have built up first. I think Palo Alto was going strong by the time the Big Earthquake came around, from the stories I’ve heard.
Our house was built in 1906 and at some point a sump pump was installed. Even though we’re nowhere near any water, it works overtime in the spring!
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