Column: Old water tower - a picture from Worthington's pastWORTHINGTON — Lately I came on an old photo — a snapshot — of the Worthington water tower that stood exactly at the south entrance to Grand Avenue through half-a-century. The huge, silver-painted tank lifted above the city on six steel legs and was one of the most prominent features on Worthington’s skyline
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Lately I came on an old photo — a snapshot — of the Worthington water tower that stood exactly at the south entrance to Grand Avenue through half-a-century. The huge, silver-painted tank lifted above the city on six steel legs and was one of the most prominent features on Worthington’s skyline. When you saw the water tower you knew you were nearly home.
(I still say water tower. A Worthington native, the late Robert Leistico, an engineer who designed towers for communities through much of his career, said they now are called “hydro columns.” You know about such things — what Worthington would have called a pool is an “aquatic center.”)
Maybe you have guessed that I save a lot of things and, if I had my way, the city of Worthington would save more things. The Second Avenue/Grand Avenue water tower was as close as Worthington will ever come to having a structure that resembles France’s Eiffel Tower. Compare pictures of the two. The zig-zag pattern of the steps up the tall legs of the Worthington tower created a lacy appearance. There might have been a small shelter house erected on the grassy tower grounds, and maybe a basketball court.
I know. It would have cost something to maintain the tower. But hey (as people say), Paris lately repainted the Eiffel Tower. Landmark towers are worth some outlay now and again.
I have strayed a very long way from the thing I set out to tell about. I came on that old water tower snapshot. I can tell you the very camera I used to take that picture. It was a Baby Brownie made by Kodak, and it came on the market in 1939. The Baby Brownie was made of hard-molded black plastic and it was almost a cube, three inches in all dimensions. I think the Brownie cost one dollar.
I have a digital camera now; it is another Kodak. It was not expensive but it is precious because it has a viewfinder that you lift to your eye to frame a picture, unlike most digital cameras which require you to lift the camera high and try to frame a photo through a large glass on the back.
After all these years of loyalty to Kodak I was very sorry to hear the news: Kodak probably will cease to exist. Kodak stock has fallen below 50 cents a share and the company is going to be kicked off the NY Stock Exchange. Kodak is nearly kaput.
Who would have guessed — I mean 15 years ago. Kodak film, Kodak’s Kodachrome, was everywhere. Gas stations, convenience stores, supermarkets. The world was buying many thousands of rolls of film every day. China and Russia. You might have thought Kodak and diamonds were forever.
We used to go to programs at Memorial Auditorium or the church basement just to see someone’s color slides from their travels.
It would be quite a sight if all of us who still have “film cameras” were to bring our antiques to 10th Street for a display. We could fill tables on both sides of (at least) one full block. Nearly everyone has some kind of camera.
This was one of the great things about Kodak. You could buy cameras for a dollar, for five dollars, for 10. It wasn’t like buying an automobile.
Most of us were tight when it came to taking pictures. We didn’t want to waste film. We would take one shot. If it was something really important — the new bride and the new groom coming out of the church — we might do two shots “just to make sure.”
To begin with, I still was doing this with my Kodak digital. It took awhile (pinch me) to appreciate I could take 70 shots and there was no expense, no film.
What are we going to do with all of our old negatives? We have saved those — oh, indeed we have treasured them. Black and white negatives. Color slides.
I was a little excited when I came on that photo of the water tower. No question: all of us got some pretty interesting pictures now and again with our old-time cameras and our rolls of films.
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.