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Scrubbing up for a Sunday drive

A NOT-SO-WILD guess would be that the Columbiana Pump people still make a dandy farmyard hand pump that will wash a buggy. Because several times over the years I have lamented the passing of some such nugget of high living and then had mail from all over telling me I can still get it. There was the time I went looking for the long-lost hand-crank laundry wring-er. With some reason, I guess, I assumed mechanics had progressed to render that null, and with all manner of sophisticated laundry machinery on tick and time, why would a household want to invest in a hand-crank wringer? I didn't want one for laundry purposes and so was beguiled. I combed the antique boutiques and couldn't find one. Here and there a man would say, ``I had one, but don't recall what became of it.'' Now and then I'd get, ``What do you want one of them things for?''

I wanted one for two somewhat un-related purposes. The felt filters used in the maple sugar house to remove the extraneous from syrup will lose their efficiency if hand-twisted to get out the wash water, but they can be run through a wringer and then put on a line to dry.

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I also wanted a wringer to shell peas. Pass your green peas through a wringer; the pods pass but the sweet little peas will pop loose and fall in your basket. You can do this by yourself, one hand to the wringer crank and one hand fitting in peas, and a pail of peas will be ready for the freezer in no time at all.

So I hunted and gave up, and then somebody said Sears still has them on page 2,386 and I sent for one. So the farmyard pump in context may still be available. We never had one. Our ancient chain pump had long since brought up its last reluctant drip of water and we had a piston pump that gave rise to the comic song, ``You never can tell the depth of the well by the length of the handle on the pump.'' But ours was a plain pump meant to draw water only, and this gushed well at the spout to fill a pail or the trough.

The Columbiana was built differently and had a special chamber of some sort so it would squirt a stream. Blessed if I remember how this was brought about, but there must have been a valve and a pressure chamber so the free fall was thrown into neutral. And the squirt was great for washing a buggy.

It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon that Grandmother suggested the buggy needed a dousing. Last Sunday, she said, she was 'shamed to be seen riding to church in a muddy buggy, and there was no call for that.

Grandfather accordingly picked up the ``shafters'' and pulled the buggy from the carriage shed, and upon inspection it did show a need. That was the better buggy. Not the everyday farm buggy, but one with hard-rubber tires, some patent leather, and even a red ``stinger'' on the whip that was never used. The Sunday buggy. Even had a ``top.''

Instead of bothering the horse, Grandfather and I trundled the buggy from our land through the ``gap'' and into the dooryard of our neighbor, who had a squirt pump. Grandfather was between the fills and I, then a tyke, came behind with a manly push. It was my whimsy to keep yelling giddyap at Grandfather, and it was his whimsy to feign a runaway. When I got him under control, we were by the pump, and it was my privilege to work the handle.

The neighbor came out and while I pumped he and Grandfather talked crops and politics, and Grandfather scrubbed. He had a pail and a brush, and a cake of lignum vitae soap. It took a while and considerable pumping to start some of the mud.

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When the buggy was soaped and scrubbed right, Grandfather took a shovel and held it so it diverted my stream thus and so, and the buggy got ``rensed.'' Then the buggy was turned and we did the other side. When all was wiped dry, we thanked our neighbor for his favor and took the buggy home.

Then we used the wagon jack and took off the four wheels one at a time to grease the gudgeons, and after that we pushed the buggy to the kitchen door so Grandmother could inspect, and approve. She said that was much better, and now she could hold her head up on the way to church.

I don't want one of those old pumps, even if they are available now. None of this is at all important today. So what? But we ran our automobile through a carwash the other day, and it set off a flashback. There's a lot of water gone down the drain since one little boy worked the handle to launder a buggy.

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