Since I grew up in New York City, it’s hard to think about summer fun without revisiting my childhood summers of playing in the Johnny Pump. Yup, good old Johnny sure cooled us sweaty kids down! If you’re wondering what in the world I’m talking about, I’ll tell you. A Johnny Pump is Brooklyn-ese for fire hydrant.
Way back in the day, the more experienced firefighters fought the fire while the rookie, or ‘Johnny,’ was left to pump the water by hooking up the hose to the hydrant.
As you can imagine, the force of the water was fierce but did not have the reach needed for everyone to enjoy it. In order to make this happen, someone would rummage through the garbage looking for an old can. After removing both ends of the can by scraping it against the sidewalk (mothers did not take kindly to sharing their can openers), the person stood behind the Johnny Pump and leaned into it. After planting both feet firmly on the ground, he or she placed the can to the gushing water, forcing it to flow through and create a geyser.
There were two issues for the people not involved in the day’s Johnny Pump action. Concern number one: you’re on your way to a date. Hair neatly coiffed and freshly washed (using your favorite shampoo, Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific), you’re wearing your best sundress, and you've expertly applied your bubble gum flavored Kissing Potion lip gloss. But there is a teensy problem. You have to be someplace on the other side of said Johnny Pump. So, you ask the can-wielding person, ever so politely, to please put the can down for just a few moments while you quickly pass. The laughter quiets, all frolic has come to a standstill.
Finally, there is an agreement. Eyes have met, heads have nodded. A smile has been smiled! You’re running late so you ignore the cold doubt rolling down your spine and proceed.
The second issue went like this: you’re driving in your car enjoying a beautiful summer’s day, windows down, hair blowing this way and that (and gee, your hair does indeed, smell terrific). You’re just loving the day until you notice the can-wielding person and the Johnny Pump frolickers. You roll to a stop many feet away and ask, in your sweetest voice, for safe passage. The can-wielding person looks you in the eye and agrees. You take a second to search his face. You’re watching for a twitch or one too many eye blinks indicating betrayal, but to your utter delight you don’t see any and proceed.
Then WHOOSH! The can-wielding person always went back on his word. So much for the date and dry car but after all, it was summer!