Friday, May 15, 2015

No Water!

The year was 1951. The place was Juneau, Alaska. I was five years old. My  parents, Bob and AnnaMae (Personeus) Cousart, had been operating the Bethel Beach Children's Home for two years. Here is my mother's account of what happened that bitterly cold January day:

"Mommy, there's no water!" AnnaLee said as she exited the bathroom.

"Oh, no!" I gasped. I whirled from the stove to the kitchen sink and turned on the faucet. Two tiny drops slowly fell into the sink, then nothing.

Frantically, I raced down the stairs to the basement laundry room and turned on the faucet in the big, square sink there. A tiny trickle, then nothing.

"Oh, dear Lord! What am I going to do now!" I groaned and sagged against the laundry tub.

Behind me, sorted into piles, lay the laundry that needed to be washed in the wringer washing machine that morning. Beside me, diapers soaked in a bucket. There were no disposable diapers nor laundromats in those days, and I had seven preschool-aged children to do laundry for, including three under two years of age. Upstairs, the breakfast dishes waited to be washed.

I hated to disturb my husband at his job at Alaska Coastal Airlines, but this was an emergency. "Honey, our water pipes must be frozen. Would you please bring us some water on your lunch hour?"

Our water supply came from a mountain stream diverted by a partial dam into our private six-foot square reservoir about 300 feet up the mountain across Glacier Highway from the Bethel Beach Children's Home. A buried pipe carried the water from the reservoir to the house.

My husband arrived home about half past noon. He unloaded two 10-gallon milk cans full of water. "I called someone to thaw out the pipes, but with this extreme cold spell, they are all booked up until tonight," he told me. "One of the fellows at work suggested that I stop by the dairy co-op to get water."

"Well, at least I can make more milk," I said. "At breakfast, the children finished up the pitcher of powered milk I mixed up last night."

After Bob went back to work, I put all the children down for naps. Then, I washed up the dishes. Next, I hand-washed the diapers and other essential items and hung them up to dry on the rack over the floor furnace grate. I saved all the used water to flush the toilet as needed.

That evening after dinner, the men finally arrived to thaw the pipes. Dragging in two heavy-duty electric cables attached to a generator on their pickup, they clamped the ends to the pipes on either side of the section that might be frozen. Then, they sent a strong electric current through the pipes. Hopefully, the heat would warm the pipes and melt the ice.

They waited for the ice to melt and the water to start flowing into the faucets, but nothing happened.

"Let's try up by the highway," one of the men suggested.

They moved the equipment up to the end of the 200-foot driveway and dug through the snow and frozen ground with a pick and shovel to expose the pipe. When the cables were attached, they again ran the generator. While they waited, the men came back to the house for hot coffee.

My husband imagined the dollar signs rolling. How would he pay the bill?

I encouraged the kids to pray. Surely God would answer our prayers.

Still no water--even after they again moved the equipment across the highway to another section of pipe.

Way after midnight, they finally decided the trouble must be at the reservoir. It was too dark and the climb too treacherous to attempt before daylight. Bob had to work all week, and it was dark when he arrived home in the evenings, so we had to make-do for five days without running water with a house full of young children before he could investigate.

Have you ever had an experience when God doesn't answer your prayers right away?

To be continued!

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