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Remember those still summer days which felt like God was holding his breath, and the earth felt on fire? Those were the days, back in that river basin climate of Southern Indiana, when one of the neighborhood moms dragged out her sprinkler. Word spread and we ran back home to get on our swimsuits and be ready to cool off.

There were several types of sprinkler heads—some more popular than others with us kids. The top choice was the flat one with pin holes in a circle, spewing water in a daisy-shaped pattern. This was our favorite because it was small and easy to jump over as we ran back and forth.

Next in the line-up was a sprinkler that looked like an alien spaceship. It had two sturdy legs flat on the ground, with a nozzle on top which spun water in a circle. Although a little clunky, this one had the advantage of spinning, so all we had to do was stand still and wait for it to come around.

The internet calls the one my parents owned “Gardena Ecoline Rectangular Sprinkler.” Two rods made up the base, with a third above and between them which waved water back and forth. That one shot water farther, but was hard to jump across, and was less popular because of it.

kids under a sprinkler

By far the least popular sprinkler choice was the Aqua Queen Soaker Hose, also owned by my parents. We considered that one dullsville, because it didn’t DO anything but spew dozens of thin water fibers. My 1951 photo shows us sitting on our hot driveway concrete in front of the hidden soaker hose. Bonnie, the kid next door with the strict mother, is wearing a bathing cap, but my favorite playmate Susie and I have wet hair plastered to our skulls.

This was long before the days of the currently popular Slip and Slide, but believe me, we did plenty of sliding on that wet grass. Usually at least one kid would scrape a knee and run home for a band-aid which didn’t stick to wet skin. Grass stains, of course, were a given.

 After cooling off, we’d go dripping home, often tracking up our mom’s newly waxed kitchen floor. Sounds pretty tame, doesn’t it? But we Old School kids thought it the height of entertainment.


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