A playground oasis

By Rick Palsgrove, Groveport Editor

When it’s broiling hot outside, nothing can quench a thirst like a cold drink of water.

In the days before people commonly carried water bottles around with them, the public drinking water fountain was a welcome sight on a scorching day when your thirst demanded attention.

One particular and valuable outdoor drinking fountain from my youth remains in my memory. It was located behind Groveport Elementary School on the south outside wall of the west classroom wing. It had a white, porcelain coated basin with a silver handle on the side. A centered, small iron pipe poked up from the basin where welcome water burbled out.

The fountain, now long gone, was most likely original to the building when it was built in 1923. For decades it quenched the thirst of football, baseball, and track athletes as well as kids at recess. I even once saw a horse get a drink out of it.

It was the oasis of the playground.

I and my friends used that water fountain frequently back when there used to be basketball courts on what is now the lower parking lot behind the school. In between games after working up a sweat playing basketball, we would stroll over to the fountain to get a drink.

It was a bit of a walk from the basketball courts to the fountain, so it also provided some rest before we started the next game.

The water from the fountain not only refreshed our bodies, but its distance from the basketball courts also served to cool tempers from conflicts that erupted during games. If someone was mad about something that happened in a game, they usually calmed down by the time they walked to the fountain and back to the court. Peace found through a combination of a long walk and a cool drink of water.

That is good advice for handling life in general.

The fountain was also a source of other fun as countless kids over the years no doubt placed their finger at an angle on the iron pipe so they could spray water and drench bystanders.

That old fountain was probably completely unsanitary to drink from, but we lived to tell the tale.

Thinking of this outdoor fountain also reminded me of the tall drinking water fountains inside Groveport Elementary in the 1960s. There were two on each floor located at each end of the long hallways by the restrooms. I remember the Oasis brand name plate on these water fountains, which featured images of palm trees.

To my little kid mind the word “oasis” seemed exotic, especially when coupled with the palm trees on the name plate. It seemed like a magic word one learned from real world experience while getting a drink and not from regular reading assignments.

It is interesting how often it is the seemingly small, every day things, such as water fountains, that fill our memories.

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