What’s next for Double Take? A fire hydrant, that’s what!
Prominent local author, Susanne Bacon, and I jump-started our second Double Take writing project by selecting my fire hydrant photo. From that common start, our columns, Bacon’s Double Take, and Boyle’s Double Take flow in two different directions inspired by our individual creative imaginations.
After viewing the hydrant, 76 years of life memories, combined with an active imagination, caused my fingers to aggressively tap on my keyboard. It was like my mental process was flowing through my fingertips. The result is a second Boyle’s Double Take, which feels like it was carved out of thin air.
It was 50 years ago when I moved to Lakewood. Over the past five decades, I have noticed something.
Unlike a good American, I have never owned a dog. Because of my no-dog history, some think I dislike dogs. I don’t hate dogs. I was raised with dogs. I was raised with parents and a sister too. As a kid, my family had collie dogs. Unlike the pit bull that became popular decades later, our collies never killed anyone. Collies did like chasing sheep, but there were no sheep in my neighborhood.
The photos below document my positive attitude toward dogs.
Patch shows I love my dog if I had one.
The late 1940s. Joey, Lassie, and Joey’s sister, Peggy. Our dog is the one in the middle.
Joe and Colleen in the 1950s. I look like a bum, but remember, I was a poor kid growing up in the lower socioeconomic area of South Seattle with no kindergarten education.
The reason I have not had a dog in the last half-century is that I worked a lot; I mean a lot. I was never a clock-watcher, so the standard 40-hour work schedule stretched into 60 – 80 hour work weeks with a few 24-hour workdays.
Why so many hours? I was running away from poverty and the Great Depression of 1929. While I was not alive during the Great Depression, my parents and grandparents were. The Great Depression’s impact on my parents and grandparents carried over to my generation.
I did not think it fair to have a dog that would be left alone inside or outside for hours at a time.
First and foremost, my yard was not dog-friendly.
I am excited to report circumstances changed, making my home ideal for a canine.
At this point, you could be asking yourself, “What changed to make Joe’s house dog nirvana?”
At this point, you might not be asking yourself, “What changed to make Joe’s house dog nirvana?”
Regardless, I will tell you anyway.
The first change is I retired, thereby providing me time to give a dog the daily attention a dog deserves.
The second change is related to my never having had my own fire hydrant. Not having a fire hydrant in front of my house has been a personal embarrassment for decades. A guy, like me, impacted by the Great Depression, is further traumatized when he lacks his own fire hydrant. To make matters worse, with no fire hydrant, I have been judged by society to be a loser or a have-not.
Fortunately for our insurance agent, my house has never been a sheet of flames. Had there been a fire, I faced the embarrassing need to, with hat in hand, borrow fire suppression liquid from my neighbor’s fire hydrant down the street.
Just last month, a brand new fire hydrant was installed in front of my house. The fire hydrant is only 70’ away from the combustible part of my home.
My hydrant provides four benefits.
BENEFIT #1: It protects my home in case of fire.
BENEFIT #2: It lowers my homeowner’s insurance rate.
BENEFIT #3: I can be a hero to the kids on the block by opening my fire hydrant on hot summer days. Kids can cool off in the gushing water, just like the kids in New York City.
BENEFIT #4: Most importantly, I now have a highly desirable dog toy. Everybody knows dogs love fire hydrants. Thanks to the City of Lakewood and Lakewood Water for providing me my own fire hydrant dog toy.
Fire hydrant dog toy.
Some may wonder why I still do not have a dog. Two reasons. Sure, I am retired, giving me more time, but retirement also means I am on a fixed income. People on fixed incomes can’t afford to buy dogs from some fancy, expensive dog breeder.
Friends suggested I could save big bucks if I got a rescue dog. Rescue dogs are not for me. I can’t be jumping into a burning building to rescue a dog, nor would I jump into Puget Sound to save a drowning dog. No rescue dogs for me.
Are you familiar with the dog days of summer? That might be my time to get a dog I can afford: free.
Remember, “A dog is a man’s best friend.”
Remember, “A fire hydrant is a dog’s best friend.”
Editor’s Note: To read Bacon’s Double Take? Click here.
Joe Boyle, author of the Suburban Times’ column “Westside Story”, and Susanne Bacon, novelist and author of the Suburban Times’ column “Across the Fence”, are sharing their thoughts about a variety of topics in their joint project of double features called “Double Take”. Comments are more than welcome, as they know that the world has more than their two angles – the more the merrier.