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Pump House

My Brother Is Aquaman

The furthest building on the east side of Seaton is a small innocuous structure that has been there as long as I can remember. It is the pump house that regulates the pumping of water to this side of town.  Odd that Seaton would need 2 of them since the tower and another pump is downtown in the square.   The Wombie, a.k.a. Aquaman, takes care of Seaton's pumps, testing, and leaks when they occur.  Every morning, even on holidays, good weather or bad, he travels to beautiful, bucolic Seaton to make sure the village is humming along like it should.  I'm not sure humming is the correct adjective to describe this old, tired, and failing town* but for the purpose of this write-up, let's be a little generous. 

I accompanied the Wombie on a few of his daily trips while back and found it quite enjoyable.  It was my first time to scope out the old pump house that sits on the block just next to the old homestead.  Old buildings have character, the old pump house was no exception.  Enter, then, with me, and witness a hidden world that is right next door, but never seen. 

On the walls were old scribbles.  Numbers that either had to add up correctly, or simply gave meaning to whatever we were putting in our coffee, showering with watering the lawn. 

These numbers were written by Stan Brown, who while we were growing up had the responsibility to handle the water department.  Stan was a good guy who was always friendly, except when certain boys seceded from the Union on a boring Saturday night.  But that's a story for another time. 

I can only guess how long ago these scribbles were important.  Stan died a couple years ago but had not handled this job in quite awhile.  I don't know who handled it between Stan and when the Wombie took over, but I'd guess these numbers are 30-50 years old.  Maybe older.

Any spot on the wall would do and as you walk in the entire wall is littered with numerical graffiti.  Old things are destroyed, but if I could I'd save this wall forever.  It represents enterprise, and is a record of how all small-town America handled things that wasn't glamorous, but was essential. 

A leak that started small has opened the floodgates to rot and destruction.  The Wombie says this pump house is scheduled for demolition.  Little penniless towns can't afford to fix these old sheds up, so they fall prey to weather and time. 

In an empty office area closed off from the rest of the pump house, these keys sit awaiting a chance to open something long unused and forgotten.  

Stacks of Christmas decorations; lighted candles and wreaths silently await  another Holiday season.   

How many summers of flies buzzing the windows wanting out is represented here?  Old municipal building don't get vacuumed or dusted.  Its quiet now on this cold February morning, but it won't be long till another generation of flies starts the process all over again.

A nail to hold something.  It seemed important once, but no longer. 

A hole in the ceiling with a chain hanging down.  I wonder why?  And what is still up there?

The rusting but still vital pumps that provide water; we take it for granted that a spigot or faucet will always produce water.  What we don't know is the work (and worry) of those quiet guys who make daily trips to make sure those faucets are full and healthy.  

When we are finished in the East End pump house, we then travel downtown to the park where the tower and main station are.

An old wooden dowel that was put in decades ago, before those plastic ones, sits in a crack in the downtown pump house.  Whatever it was used for and whoever put it in, long ago lost its importance.

No wood rot here, or leaks of any kind.  The utilitarian wood that provides the ceiling is pretty in a rustic, natural way.  

The brickwork was fashionable in the day this was constructed.  The windows have long been closed and blocked, but it doesn't take too much of an imagination to see this 100 years ago and how majestic it might have looked.  

"Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Aquaman, right here on Existing In BFE!"

*  When we boys were kids in Seaton there was a veterinarian, a grocery store, pool hall, a barber, a bank, a garage, a gas station, lumber yard, 3 trucking companies, hardware store, a Masonic Hall, a school, a newspaper, a restaurant and a church.  All are gone now except the bank, restaurant and church. 


  1. It seems that small towns like Seaton and Wataga have lost something more than those small businesses. A portion of their collective soul went with the loss. They have become less of a community and more of a sleepy suburb for bigger towns with WalMarts. I'm sure our parents felt the same as the small town high schools went away. Every step in forward progress costs us some part of our treasured past.

  2. This one made me happy and sad. - Ashley


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