Some Things Never Change

Some weeks ago Mom’s kitchen flooring was damaged and her floor has to be taken down to the sub-floor. Asbestos is involved and the project is on-hold awaiting abatement of the asbestos. All of her lower cabinets were removed to the garage as was her kitchen sink. She has been without tap water in her kitchen for 7 weeks and has been washing dishes in the bathroom sink.

This weekend I am visiting her and since there has been no news on when she will get the abatement done I decided to brainstorm how I could get some of her kitchen’s functionality back. A slop sink is $140 at the hardware store. I put out a call on Facebook thinking someone local might have one lying around in a barn or something—no luck. Then Mom told me that when she and Dad bought the house from his mother there was a laundry sink on the other side of the kitchen which had been removed when they made changes to the kitchen when I was just a baby. She described it, and I said, “I wonder if that’s the thing under the stairs in the basement?” I’d seen it as a kid and always thought it was an old washing machine or something and never paid much attention to it.

I went downstairs to check and it was the old laundry sink! It was old and the base was rusty and the faucet was in pieces (in the sink) and the copper feeder tubes had been cut; but it was a sink! Kelly and I brought it upstairs and I started taking inventory. All the parts for the faucet were there. If I was lucky I wouldn’t need to buy a new one. The feeder tubes simply unscrewed from the bottom of the faucet. All I seemed to need was a long horizontal tube to connect the drain up. ($10 at the hardware store, cut to length.) And the feeder lines from the sink that was removed to the garage had the same fittings as this antique!

After a couple of false starts and pipe cuts and having to put a couple of 4x4s under it to get the right height (it’s a DEEP sink!) I got everything hooked up. Then…the moment of truth: I gingerly turned on the cold water valve. Water spluttered from the faucet! And it wasn’t spraying all over the place! It went down the drain and there was no leaking there either. The same thing happened with the hot. I was flabbergasted.

There are fancy-schmancy faucets around which people design whole homes, if ads on TV can be believed. But basic plumbing fixtures in the U.S. have not changed in decades. This sink and its faucet are 70 years old and have been sitting in a basement for 50 years. That I could reconnect them with a minimum of fuss and see it all work is impressive to say the least, and is a testament to the craftsmanship that went into their manufacture. Kelly said, “they don’t build them like they used to,” but they DO build them like they used to which is why I didn’t need 6 trips to the hardware store to make this happen.

Wherever he is, Dad is smiling a great big “I told you so,” as he undoubtedly was asked why he was saving that sink instead of throwing it away and very likely said, or at least thought, “we might be able to use it again some day.” He took it apart and left everything as if he would be hooking it back up next week. 50 years later I was able to pick up where he left off and give it new life. (Which hopefully will be very short!)

As Dr. McCoy said in the original Star Trek episode, “The Devil In The Dark,” “I’m beginning to think I can cure a rainy day!” And that, too, thanks to Dad.

[Oh P.S.: No one told Mom that they hadn’t disconnected her dishwasher, which is plumbed and drained completely separately from the sink! So I screwed it to the wall so it wouldn’t tip over and it’s now working fine too.]

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