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Posted: August 14, 2012 7:14 p.m.

Travis: Fire hydrant hijinks

I have a fire hydrant in my yard. Not a working one next to the street, but a non-working one about 20 feet from the street next to my drive way. It is a real fire hydrant, just not a working one. It is the outside of a fire hydrant.

The metal, rather utilitarian, hulk that you see dogs eyeing in comic strips. But it has no insides and is not hooked up to any water.

Several years before we were married, my husband was involved in a car accident in the city of Atlanta and this particular fire hydrant was damaged. Again not the outsides, but the insides.

He went to traffic court and was told he would have to pay for the fire hydrant. He did. (Traffic court must have been much more timely 50 years ago than it is now. Or maybe repairing damage to infrastructure was done just as slowly then as it appears to be now.)

My husband has a rather strong sense of justice. (It might not match everyone else's idea of justice, but he does get incensed if he feels someone has been wronged.) He felt that if he had to pay for that fire hydrant, he should get to keep it.

He left traffic court and drove directly to the scene of the accident. There he found city workers repairing the fire hydrant and putting the old outsides back on the new insides. My husband informed the workers that he had just paid for that fire hydrant and he now owned it. Much to their amazement, he put it in the trunk of his car and drove off. They didn't object; they just stared.

As he moved from apartment to apartment and then to where we now live in Covington, he hauled that fire hydrant all around the environs of metro Atlanta. It's heavy. It has been enthroned in its present position for around 40 years.

Besides his sense of justice, my husband has a strong sense of ownership. Once he has acquired something, he does not want to let it go no matter what shape it is in. I swear he has plaid shirts from when he was in high school still hanging in his closet.

When we first moved here and placed the fire hydrant, in kinder and gentler days, the City of Covington Fire Department used to send their rookies to blow out the fire hydrant. It was a rite of passage.

It has been painted more than once by city employees who wander down the street with a paint brush and a can of aluminum paint painting each and every hydrant, including mine, even though it is no where near the street.

At one point, an episode of "In the Heat of the Night" was filmed in my yard and house.

The crew setting up for the shoot spent over a half an hour discussing the fire hydrant and how best to disguise it.

They had actually rigged up several fake bushes to hide it. Then my husband pulled into the yard and saw what they were doing.

Imagine their surprise when he just got out of his vehicle and picked up that fire hydrant and moved it out of range of the camera.

There ought to be something I could do with it. Some people have concrete geese or elves or such on their porches and dress them appropriately for each season.

I could make that fire hydrant into a scarecrow or Christmas elf or even a leprechaun. Or I could paint it for each season. At one point it was painted red, white and blue for the centennial. The city painted all the fire hydrants with that color scheme.

Tori Spelling is hosting a new crafting show on TLC called "Craft Wars." The contestants have to make weird things out of piles of stuff and the winners receive thousands of dollars in more craft stuff.

The program makes me shiver. I do not have the energy to be that dedicated to crafting and the thought of trying to find a place to put all that craft material is frightening. (Think my husband never throws anything away and still has shirts from high school; I have no closet space.)

But maybe, just maybe, I could get some old paint brushes and several cans of old paint. I could dress my granddaughters in several of my husband's old plaid shirts and turn them lose on decorating that fire hydrant. I bet it would be pretty.


Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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