Monday, November 26, 2007

Water and Fire

[My mom wrote, in her blog today, about the first house she and Dad lived in, in Walla Walla, Washington. It made me think about the first house that Dan and I owned, which inspired today's blog.]

In early 1973, before Chris was born in March, we bought our very first house, on Jerry Drive, in Juneau. It was just under 1200 square feet, with three bedrooms and a bath-and-a-half. It was a modular house, and had been a model home, set up on our builder's uncle's grocery store parking lot, before they relocated it to its permanent lot, in the new Green Acres subdivision, and put it up for sale. Because it had been a model, our builder, Mr. E, had the bright idea of using the house to display a variety of colors of shag carpet that were available in his homes. Every room had a different color of carpeting -- red, green and orange in the three bedrooms; and gold in the living room and hall. But, tasteless as that sounds, we were happy to have our own place, and just in time for bringing home baby.

We moved in the middle of a Juneau snow storm. The road to our new little house was not paved, and the snow had not been cleared by the city. Luckily, a couple of fellows from church had 4-wheel-drive vehicles, and showed up, without notice one Saturday, to move us in. Of course, they wouldn't let me lift a finger because of my "maternal condition." I was stationed at the new house, and assigned the job of directing where furniture and boxes were to be deposited. I remember looking in one box, only to find that these good-hearted and hard-working men had picked up our kitchen trash can (full of garbage), packed it into an empty cardboard box, and delivered it to the new house.

As soon as we moved in, we began experiencing a problem with the water faucets. Every time we turned on the water, a burst of air would shoot out of the faucet, ahead of the water. It was such a strong, explosive burst, that it sometimes would blow a glass right out of my hand. And, even worse, we noticed a strange odor, and the water tasted salty.

We called Mr. E to the house, and he said it was just air in the lines, because they were new. There were only three houses in our little subdivision, and he said as we all used the water more, the air would work itself out and everything would be fine. That didn't explain the odor or the saltiness, but I got the sense that he thought the taste and smell were just figments of my imagination. No Satisfaction there!

So we called the health department, and they tested the water. Yes, they said, it had salt in it, but it wasn't so bad that they could make Mr. E drill a new well. No satisfaction there, either.

Maybe our water wasn't bad enough for the health department to take action, but it was bad enough that I, still very pregnant, wasn't about to drink it; so we hauled our drinking water in some large containers (that was before the days of these convenient little bottled waters).

One morning, soon after, when Dan was getting ready for work, he thought he detected the odor of gas when he approached the sink. He took a match, lit it, held it under the faucet and turned the tap on slowly. With a whooshing sound, the faucet turned into a torch! Since the health department had already declared our salty water "OK," this time we called the fire department. They came out, tested our torches - I mean faucets - and found that the level of methane gas pegged-out their gas-sniffer-meters. "Good thing neither of you smoke," they told me. The well would have to be redrilled, by order of the fire department! Satisfaction, at last!

It turned out that Mr. E had actually drilled our well too deep, which is why he had gotten into salt water and methane gas. He drilled a new, shallower well, and it provided us with wonderful, sweet, fresh water the rest of the time we lived there - about 5-1/2 years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read your blog regarding your first new home. As I think back at that cute little house, what sticks in my mind is the olive green appliances. They were really awful, weren't they?