Back in the Day… We Drank from Sinks, Fountains, and Garden Hoses

There wasn’t bottled water around when I was growing up. Actually, there was, but it wasn’t for us regular folk.

Back in the day, buying bottled water was a luxury that might have been compared to buying and breathing a bottle of air. Only the upper crust of society drank their water out of manufactured plastic you bought in a store. The rest of us earthlings drank water from old-fashioned sinks, rusty water fountains, and on occasion, the garden hose.

Most kids would have laughed hysterically if you pulled a plastic water bottle out of your brown paper bag or Batman lunch box in the cafeteria at school. You wouldn’t have been thought of as a very bright person for purchasing something that was flowing freely from sinks and fountains everywhere.

Through the years, big corporations with million dollar marketing campaigns have convinced the masses that instead of getting water from city water supplies or country ground wells, everyone needs to shell out big bucks to get water that comes from a mountain spring in Colorado or flowing down the side of an Austrian Mountain. You can almost see the young maidens scooping up the mountain water with wooden buckets and carefully pouring the water into each little plastic bottle.

Some people may tell you that the bottled water is healthier than the free-flowing sink water. I’m not so sure about that. Other people think that bottled water is basically a scam. Do most companies manufacture fancy bottles and simply turn on a faucet or garden hose somewhere and then charge a small fortune for “crystal-clear, purified bottled water?” Who knows.

Today, just drinking regular water is no longer enough. We now have “enhanced” water. This is water with everything from flavoring and fruit juices to vitamins and herbal extracts. The corporate geniuses come up with fancy titles like wellness water, fizzy fountains, and sparkling spectacular springs.

Some companies claim their water is so special that it’s oxygenated, gluten free, and non-GMO. There’s premium water that’s supposedly melted from ice bergs along the North Pole. There was even exotic bottled water that claimed to be infused with sound waves from the moon and light beams from rainbows. I like moonbeams and rainbows as much as the next guy, but I don’t want to drink it out of a bottle. I’ll stick to the basic H2O.

Whether most bottled water comes from a pristine spring or not didn’t matter back in the day. At home we drank from the sink. At school we stood in line at the drinking fountain after recess, after lunch, and whenever we got a restroom break.

The fountains, especially the old white porcelain ones, would often grow a layer of mold and grime across the top an inch thick. Even if the water was clear and tasted relatively normal, there were still enough germs on that silver fountain to choke a horse. And there were always a few kids that wrapped their mouths around the entire water spigot. I always seemed to get behind one in line.  

School drinking fountain water was routinely either cloudy, rusty, smelled bad, tasted like a mouthful of nails, or all of the above. In spite of that, or maybe even because of it, most of us thrived and grew healthy and strong. Then the “experts” came along and insisted we all needed clear, clean, fresh water, and preferably from a bottle.

Of course, just because water is clear and odorless doesn’t really mean anything. Arsenic in water is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. Just saying.

Today, kids and adults seem to have more health problems than ever before. Almost everyone suffers from some sort of physical, emotional, or mental issue. Perhaps something as simple as the water we drink is a factor in this. Whether it came from a well or the city, we drank real water, chock full of minerals and often mixed with a healthy dose of rust.

Water, along with a lot of other things, was different, back in the day.


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