Steve Jacobi is my first friend, the geography of friendship dictated this. Because he was my first, the memory of our first meeting stands out as brightly as my first kiss, or Kennedy’s assassination. It was a bright summer day; Aunt Clara and I were out in our front yard and Steve was in his; Steve and I were about four. Separating us was the always dangerous (to little boys) street.
On my side there was some water running down the curb to play with. Clara was exhorting me to see if Steve could come over and play, or asking if I wanted to go over there. “Just be careful and look both ways before crossing Bobby,” she said. And so in an instant, in my memory, we were together trying to block the water’s flow with stick dams, or make sticks float down the mighty trickle.
The water in the curb must have been a source of pride and youthful ownership or at least entitlement. It came mysteriously from a concrete box several blocks north. Its source was Jack and Jill Hillcrest grocery store where it was used to air condition the store. Hastings sits on the Ogallala aquifer. It’s pure cool water was a source of pride to the city, and the source of the only issue I ever perceived between my parents. My mother wanted it untainted, and my father decided the best public health policy would be to fluoridate it. Every election with fluoridation on the ballot resulted in them canceling each others votes out. Continue reading