Twelve Years Old in Granville – 1885
If Julia wouldn't loan her the umbrella, then Lucretia wasn't sure
she wanted to go.
Julia might be of an age to go walking along Broadway, with groups of
young women and men, to the Kicking Tree and back (all the way to
Granger, but not around the bend of Mount Parnassus), but she still
ought to share with a younger sister. Lucretia hoped that a whalebone
umbrella might be in the offing for her thirteenth birthday, but it
seemed as if Julia might not have gotten hers until she was nearly
Now Lucretia was following Mother and Father on this lovely fall
afternoon, from their house on Plum with little Osgood in tow, and
Julia staying at home with her snooty friends. It didn't look like
rain at all, but everyone knew that the new fire engine, powered by
steam, was putting on a display at Prospect and Broadway. They were
attempting to shoot a stream of water into the air, pumped from the
new pipes Mr. Bryant had laid out all over the village from a vast
wooden tank up on College Hill. The steam engine, on a handcart, was
supposed to put pressure on the water so that it would be a geyser,
like that place Lucretia had seen in the stereopticon in Mrs. Bolen's
parlor, a picture in three dimensions from somewhere out West, where
water shot from the earth every hour. Imagine!
"Let's keep moving, 'Crete," laughed Father, as she paused to look up
at the new Methodist church on the northeast corner of Main and
Broadway. She had marveled to hear Mr. Montgomery, the well-to-do
farmer out west of the village, tell Father about how every piece of
wainscoting, and the grand arcs of church pews in the sanctuary had
come from just two grand old cherry trees, four feet across, down
along the Raccoon. Now our main intersection in Granville had a
fourth tower for the four corners, just like a big city would have.
They scampered as Mother's and 'Crete's long skirts would let them,
tromping through the mud, and over the small bridge from the drainage
around back of the new "Centenary," as they were calling the
Methodist church now (what with the centennial of American Methodism
falling last year, when they finished the new building). The path
along the north side of Broadway was boarded along almost the whole
length of all the new storefronts, so they made better time as they
heard the murmur of the crowd, and the high, clear voice of Mr.
Bryant above all.
"Look out, look out now!"
The size of the crowd was substantial, filling the intersection and
most of Prospect Street on around the corner, looking back from the
porch of the Mansion House. 'Crete looked up at the three story bulk
of the Kussmaul block anchoring the corner, having kept her eye along
the rooftops, from the Methodist corner right along all the lovely
Italianate two story shops, gazing appreciatively at the variations
of brick patterns and brackets and cornices.
"Father . . ." she said faintly as she nudged him, still looking up.
Then suddenly a ribbon of water snaked down out of the sky, arcing
from behind the buildings, shimmering in the light, falling with a
Mother was soaked, and furious, while Osgood was wet and whimpering,
and Father's mustaches sagged with heavy droplets at each end, his
hat crushed over his eyebrows. You could hardly see his angry
expression. Lucretia was dry and untouched.
"I told you Julia should give us her umbrella!"
[Charles Webster Bryant, pharmacist & community leader, organized our
first civic water system, the historical societies for both Granville
& Ohio, and was holding the fire hose nozzle for the first test of
its steam engine. Its power & effectiveness surprised him…and a
number of village residents!]