Going To The Well

When I was a child growing up in Limestone County, people were still going to the well. Our neighbors had one well which served two families. They had electricity but no running water inside the house. They had to go to the well daily and draw the water. Most of the wells were cased at the top and some were even covered with a shelter. My grandparents had a little shed over the well, some folks even constructed a little house referred to as the “Well House.” Usually the well had a round post as an axle and it would have a handle on one end so you could turn it. The rope and bucket was attacked to this round post or small log. What I remember most is coming in from the fields hot and thirsty and Mr. Homer [our neighbor] would pour out the water in the bucket and draw a fresh bucket of water. Once we got a fresh bucket to the top, we all fought over the dipper. Mr. Homer’s dipper was made of metal but I have drunk from a gourd dipper. The well water was cool and refreshing. It did not keep you from getting cavities but it sure taste better than the water we have these days. The well was a huge part of our neighbor’s lives. All their water for cooking, bathing and drinking came from that well. It was also a gathering place. When people had picnic or family reunions, they had them around the well. I guess I should tell you that there were some problems associated with wells. One of my favorite Jerry Clower stories was about Marcel having to go out each night and make sure the chickens roosting on the well were turned right. Chicken litter in your garden is one thing but in your well, that is not good. If something dead got in your well–you had a problem. So in the old days 1950’s [for me], there were people who made a living cleaning out wells. In our neck of the woods there was a family that cleaned out wells. They were very poor. I don’t think any of the kids went to school. We had a lot more freedom then than now. I think there name was McGrew. I was just a pup but I do remember them coming to our house. There were 6-7 in all and the old man would send the kids down into the well one at a time. They would stand in the bucket and hold the rope and down they would go with their daddy manning the crank. They would fish out what ever was creating the problem. It could be mud or some dead creature that had fallen into the well. They would put whatever in the bucket and their daddy would crank it to the top.   Then when they had everything clean, he would crank his kids back to the surface. I’ve never thought about it before but I guess this is where the term “You old Crank” originated. They offered me a ride to the bottom but I chickened out. I wish now that I had taken them up. I have heard that you can see the stars from the bottom of a well even in the middle of the day. I wish now that I had checked that out.

In ancient time the well was a community center because in most cases the entire village used the same well. The well was a good place to meet folks, Jacob found a wife at the well. Jesus found a prospect at the well. Over time I suppose folks might even forget the purpose of the well and simply come there to meet others. Over time, folks might even began to worship the well but the well is just a place, the water in the well is what we need. Solomon understood that the temple he build was simply a place of worship; to a place to worship…But who can really build Him [the LORD]a worthy home? Not even the highest heavens can contain Him! So who am I to consider building a Temple for Him, except as a place to burn sacrifices to Him?

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