Fire hy­drant hi­jinks

The Covington News - - Opinion - PAULA TRAVIS COLUM­NIST Paula Travis is a re­tired teacher from the New­ton County School Sys­tem. She can be reached at ptravis@cov­

I have a fire hy­drant in my yard. Not a work­ing one next to the street, but a non-work­ing one about 20 feet from the street next to my drive way. It is a real fire hy­drant, just not a work­ing one. It is the out­side of a fire hy­drant. The metal, rather util­i­tar­ian, hulk that you see dogs eye­ing in comic strips. But it has no in­sides and is not hooked up to any wa­ter.

Sev­eral years be­fore we were mar­ried, my hus­band was in­volved in a car ac­ci­dent in the city of At­lanta and this par­tic­u­lar fire hy­drant was dam­aged. Again not the out­sides, but the in­sides.

He went to traf­fic court and was told he would have to pay for the fire hy­drant. He did. (Traf­fic court must have been much more timely 50 years ago than it is now. Or maybe re­pair­ing dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture was done just as slowly then as it ap­pears to be now.)

My hus­band has a rather strong sense of jus­tice. (It might not match ev­ery­one else’s idea of jus­tice, but he does get in­censed if he feels some­one has been wronged.) He felt that if he had to pay for that fire hy­drant, he should get to keep it.

He left traf­fic court and drove di­rectly to the scene of the ac­ci­dent. There he found city work­ers re­pair­ing the fire hy­drant and putting the old out­sides back on the new in­sides. My hus­band in­formed the work­ers that he had just paid for that fire hy­drant and he now owned it. Much to their amaze­ment, he put it in the trunk of his car and drove off. They didn’t ob­ject; they just stared.

As he moved from apart­ment to apart­ment and then to where we now live in Cov­ing­ton, he hauled that fire hy­drant all around the en­vi­rons of metro At­lanta. It’s heavy. It has been en­throned in its present po­si­tion for around 40 years. Be­sides his sense of jus­tice, my hus­band has a strong sense of own­er­ship. Once he has ac­quired some­thing, he does not want to let it go no mat­ter what shape it is in. I swear he has plaid shirts from when he was in high school still hang­ing in his closet.

When we first moved here and placed the fire hy­drant, in kinder and gen­tler days, the City of Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment used to send their rook­ies to blow out the fire hy­drant. It was a rite of pas­sage.

It has been painted more than once by city em­ploy­ees who wan­der down the street with a paint brush and a can of alu­minum paint paint­ing each and ev­ery hy­drant, in­clud­ing mine, even though it is no where near the street.

At one point, an episode of “In the Heat of the Night” was filmed in my yard and house.

The crew set­ting up for the shoot spent over a half an hour dis­cussing the fire hy­drant and how best to dis­guise it. They had ac­tu­ally rigged up sev­eral fake bushes to hide it. Then my hus­band pulled into the yard and saw what they were do­ing.

Imag­ine their sur­prise when he just got out of his ve­hi­cle and picked up that fire hy­drant and moved it out of range of the cam­era.

There ought to be some­thing I could do with it. Some peo­ple have con­crete geese or elves or such on their porches and dress them ap­pro­pri­ately for each sea­son.

I could make that fire hy­drant into a scare­crow or Christ­mas elf or even a leprechaun. Or I could paint it for each sea­son. At one point it was painted red, white and blue for the cen­ten­nial. The city painted all the fire hy­drants with that color scheme.

Tori Spell­ing is host­ing a new craft­ing show on TLC called “Craft Wars.” The con­tes­tants have to make weird things out of piles of stuff and the win­ners re­ceive thou­sands of dol­lars in more craft stuff.

The pro­gram makes me shiver. I do not have the en­ergy to be that ded­i­cated to craft­ing and the thought of try­ing to find a place to put all that craft ma­te­rial is fright­en­ing. (Think my hus­band never throws any­thing away and still has shirts from high school; I have no closet space.)

But maybe, just maybe, I could get some old paint brushes and sev­eral cans of old paint. I could dress my grand­daugh­ters in sev­eral of my hus­band’s old plaid shirts and turn them lose on dec­o­rat­ing that fire hy­drant. I bet it would be pretty.

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