by admin

Humboldt Park (Photo from www.ventadecasasenchicago.com)

Humboldt Park (Photo from www.ventadecasasenchicago.com)

On Sunday afternoon, I went to visit a friend in Humboldt Park, a Chicago’s Northwest Side Puerto rican neighborhood. I buzzed the door to my friend’s building and heard a voice say:

“I don’t think that thing works.”

It was the neighbor next door. Sitting on his porch, he observed all the going and coming on his street.

“How is your neighborhood?” I asked him when he told me he had been living there for 20 years. “Is it safe?”

I had noticed broken glass in a parking space on a small street. By precaution, I parked on the main road.

“That buidling over there used to have shootings every night of the year,” said the 70 year-old man of Latino origin. “It didn’t matter if it was summer or winter.”

I glanced at the building he pointed to. It was kitty-corner to my friend’s apartment. Boy, was I glad the neighborhood had improved!

After a short visit, I left my friend’s air-conditioned apartment and was enveloped by the 90-degree heat outside. It was too hot and I was not the only one thinking so.

The neighbor I had spoken to earlier had left his seat on the porch and was now sitting in the back bumper of a Sport Utility Vehicle, with his feet in running water. It was like the street had turned into a river. I looked to the intersection on my right and discovered the source of the river.

Fire Hydrant Fun (Photo from www.locoinyokohama.com)

Fire Hydrant Fun (Photo from www.locoinyokohama.com)

The residents had unscrewed a red fire hydrant and water was now gushing out at high speed. People of all ages were enjoying the fresh jets. From toddlers to muscled-men with tatoos, they swam in the impromptu streams on the street, sat in them, walked in them.

A young man picked up his partner and brought her close to the jet to dump her in it. They both ended up falling on the pavement. The high-pressure water was too strong. No one was hurt; they were both laughing.

For the neighborhood, this must have been a familiar scene on a hot day. Big SUVs slowed down and drivers smiled as their cars got a free washing. The rules of the road no longer applied. You simply drove where there were fewer people on the road. The law of less resistance.

Someone said she hoped the police was not alerted; the open fire hydrant translated into low-water pressure in the neighborhood’s apartments.

I too walked in the streams, enjoying the freshness. My sandals would dry up soon enough. I silently thanked the soaking-wet residents for turning their streets into an attraction park _ Chicago style. This was no Millenium park fountain, but it sure was as much fun.

Millenium Park Fun (Photo from www.imaginativeamerica.com)

Millenium Park Fountain (Photo from www.imaginativeamerica.com)