Force cups and drain augers and POTS

Or make that plungers, snakes, and the telephone. Older isn’t necessarily better, and this is especially true with older houses and some aspects of older neighborhoods. Our house, although it’s among the newest I’ve ever inhabited, dates from the late 1920s. Even though it was designed by Roy Leonidas Thomas, it was constructed as a spec model house and not particularly well. It has never been updated. Apart from the knob-and-tube original wiring, it also is served by cheap galvanized plumbing indoors and Orangeburg pipe outdoors. The minerals in Austin water eventually lead to constrictions in the water lines. I’ve spent a lot of time lately clearing clogs. This is not conducive to a happy disposition.

We also spent nearly a week, including the Thanksgiving holiday, without a dial-tone. The older relatives did not understand this, and we learned that payphones are not so easy to find as they once were. When the genial and competent repair person finally appeared, we learned that the Hickory Exchange is one of the two oldest in Austin. He knew exactly what was wrong, and located the problem two streets away and in quite a short time. The last time we had trouble, the technicians sent out were not so experienced and familiar with the neighborhood, so it took more than one attempt before the difficulty was located, several streets away. We were happy to find that this time, in contrast to earlier occasions, we were actually issued a credit on our monthly bill for the days that we were without service. And without asking!

And in connection with another recent household inconvenience, this one involving a water cut-off, we were happy to learn that the City now has a page of information about water outages up on line.

Most of my habitations have been from the nineteenth century, without electricity or complete with old gas fixtures or old push-button electric switches. The best and most modern and efficient dwelling was a “teacherage” that was amateur-built from mail-order plans, with concrete-block walls and metal casement windows. It wasn’t in the least bit picturesque, but that can be vastly over-rated. Ask the person who knows.

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