The train was a little stuffy and I could barely feel the AC unless I stood up and cranned my neck upward. Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone waving their arms wildly. I tried to ignore, but he persisted and said, "Miss, there's a seat over here if you want to sit down." I thanked him but said I was trying to cool down by standing up. Then, of course, as soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized my mistake. It was an open invitation for him to start speaking to me, about everything that popped into his head. Of course he was going to Brooklyn, as I was. Of course he was hot too. Of course he was going to stand next to me talking and chattering about everything and anything. But, instead of leaving the car, I stayed and talked with him. He seemed lonely. He seemed happy to have someone to talk with. So, I listened and he shared his life experiences being a Brooklyn boy, opening Johnnypumps for the neighborhood kids, and a bbq during last week's heat wave. He got me thinking of a few things about Summer fun with Peter and his Father.
Peter standing on the porch in the backyard on East 18th Street
You may have read the rest of this personal note about the subways on my FB yesterday, but this part is different.
As lonely train guy talked about his Johnnypump memories, he reminded me of hot Summer days and evenings when the pool had lost it's novelty and we wanted something else to do. If it was a Sunday afternoon and most of the family was over Nettie's house for Sunday supper, all the kids were there together. And bored kids do what we do best, we fight, scream and act-up. But Pete and Nettie knew how to keep us busy and less bored.
Pete Sr. would instruct his son to get the tool that opened the Johnnypump, while he strolled outside with 5 granddaughters clad in bathing suits ran behind him usually barefoot. With Peter helping him with something that looked like the largest wrench I've ever seen, together they'd unscrew the cap and water gushed out of the pump like an open firehose. If Pete's uncle Louie was around, he had a sprinkler cap that could be screwed in place so the pulsing water turned into a large sprinkler that covered the entire street and allowed for enough room for 10 people to run under and threw it.
With Pete Sr. keeping a lookout for cars, Peter, Nancy, Michelle, Tara, Marie and I would spend hours running under the cold sprinkler or taking turns sitting on the spout where the water gushed out until the sheer force of the water pushed you off and Peter would be there to catch us so we didn't fall down. Peter and Nancy would ride their skateboards through the water, or call their friends from down the street to come out and play, like Josh and Dennis.
We'd do this for hours, until Pete Sr. got tired of standing there, or some nasty neighbor would call the cops. But it was Peter who would nudge his dad on these Sunday afternoons to create a little fun for us. It's these hot days that you remember the good old days when you had summers off and you were able to make sprinklers for a bunch of bored city kids.