Site hosted by Build your free website today!

The Old Rusty Faucet

   When I was a small child, the high point of my week was the Sunday visit to my grandmother's house in Richmond's North Side. The very fact that it was my father's childhood home filled me with a sense of wonder, for we were very close, and anyone and anything took on additional importance in my young eyes, when I learned of its connection with Daddy. This fortunate house thus became practically hallowed ground, so of course these weekly cross-town jaunts were very special occasions -- and they provided me with some valuable intangibles.

   Once we arrived, the adults (as adults will) scurried about like so many Lewis Carrollingian White Rabbits all talking at once, and left us children (as long as we behaved properly) to entertain ourselves any way we saw fit. I generally chose to spend some time surveying the scene.

   While wandering silently about the house unnoticed in this initial hustle and bustle, I came to regard certain aspects of the home as inexplicably mine. My choice was not influenced by monetary value. : The old glass doorknobs appealed to me just as much as did the intricately carved Italian Antique marble-top table. By my standards, the brass dinner chimes were of equal value to the lovely handmade china closet. Each remembered object brought reassurement to my small being; each newly acquired possession was cause for delight. Thus I could turn to the old banjo clock and happily exclaim (inwardly, of course), "Hey, I know you!" So it went throughout my tours: the blue and white teapot, the bay window, the potted geraniums, the white wicker rocking chairs, the heavy cast iron doorstop, the needlepoint-covered footstools -- all greeted me, I was sure, with as much pleasure as I did them. As I came to the old family portraits, I could hear my great-grandparents say, as they smiled down at me from their places on the wall, "Well, it's our little Carol -- and how are you today?"

   It must be clarified that always I was fully aware that the old house and all its contents were the property of my grandmother; yet I knew just as well that the house and all its contents were my friends. She owned them, and they were just as definitely mine. Therefore, I suffered no delusions of grandeur, felt no avarice: how could I covet that which, in a very real sense, was already mine?

* * *

   Years later -- I was about sixteen at the time. I think -- I was spending a few warm summer days with my grandmother in her, --er, that is, our home, and I sleepily made my way downstairs for breakfast. Something had gone wrong with her kitchen sink drain, so she had called Mr. Braxton, a personal friend of hers who "moonlighted" as a plumber, to repair the damage. He was struggling laboriously over the drain as I entered the kitchen, and greeted me quite cheerfully. Still half-asleep, I replied as chirpily as I could under the circumstances, and poured myself a bowl of cereal. I was superficially aware that he was replacing the old rusty faucet on the sink, yet somehow, in my drowsiness, I failed to comprehend the full implications of that seemingly harmless, indeed, helpful, act. Perhaps I was concentrating too heavily on appearing awake and alert, and on conversing intelligently and genially with Mr. Braxton, as I knew was expected of me; at any rate, the fact that he was replacing my faucet -- one of my oldest and dearest friends -- didn't penetrate my sleep-bemuddled brain until too late. When I finally understood that he had not only replaced my friend, but in effect, kidnapped him --well, my horror was inexpressible.

   Frantically, I rushed to explain the gravity of the situation to my grandmother, only to realize that I had never before enlightened her of my sundry inanimate "friendships". She looked at me as though I were a bit daft, then began to chuckle at what she called my "little joke". Ignoring this mild sacrilege, I begged her for Mr. Braxton's phone number, that I might ransom with him. Seeing that I was serious, her expression changed at first to one of indifference and disregard, however pleasant, of my "foolish sentimentality".

   She flatly refused to let me call Mr. Braxton, on the grounds that he would think me mad. Indeed, I think she herself thought so; whatever the case, she couldn’t seem to understand my feelings toward her possessions, particularly one which she thought so worthless.

* * *

   The following Christmas, in an effort to make her understand, I presented my grandmother with the following song parody, which I sang, rather melodramatically, to the tune of "The Old Oaken Bucket":

"The Old Rusty Faucet"

How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection present them to view.
The gardens, the birdbath, the spot where it once stood.
And ev'ry loved spot that my infancy knew.
The home of my father, the printing shop nigh it,
The rose garden blooming, all yellow and pink;
The storage garage with its secrets stood by it,
And e'en the rude faucet that perched on the sink.

The old rusty faucet,
The leaky old faucet,
That mangled old faucet
That perched on the sink.

The old-fashioned whisk broom that stood by the fireplace,
The lights in the windows when Christmas was near;
The bell on the staircase, the old Chinese Ming vase,
The diamond-shaped window, I found these all here.
The silver tea service, the furniture shining,
The big china closets were lovely to see;
The odors surrounding us when we were dining,
But the old rusty faucet was dearest to me.

The old rusty faucet,
The leaky old faucet,
That mangle old faucet
Was dearest to me.

The mangled old faucet I hailed as a treasure;
Whenever my young heart was all filled with woe,
I found it the source of exquisite pleasure:
When I turned the handle, the water would flow.
But one day it happened -- the old faucet failed us!
So we called the plumbers on that fateful day.
They took from their bags a bright, shiny new faucet;
Replacing it thusly, they stole it away!

The old rusty faucet,
The leaky old faucet,
That mangled old faucet,
They stole it away!

* * *

You know, I think she never did understand.

-- Carol Randolph Buckley

December 24, 1966


"The Old Oaken Bucket" midi courtesy of - 04/16/2002