There are many first bad-impressions or first bad-experiences that somehow we will never forget.
For athletes it is often the first time you get your clock cleaned, or rather “see stars.”
For others it maybe the first time you got in trouble, like … for making your brother ride the sled down that trail of trees, or when you punted the football and smashed a window, or how about the time you let go to early while teaching your sister how to ride a bike? Just spit-ballin’ here, don’t judge me!
No, I’m talking more like that rotten apple you ate, and found half a worm inside, or the bad grilled burger with bone grit, or maybe that first piece of mutton.
For me none of those experiences apply … (LOL) because by far the worst thing came from having a bad well when we were kids, and when you have a bad well, you have bad water, and when you have bad water in a house of thirteen you have rebellion, chaos, and anarchy.
The period of time from finding the problem and fixing the problem led to many, many bad experiences.
To explain we must first review how the problem is created; time for Geology 101. As groundwater moves through soil and rock formations containing minerals of sulfate, some of these minerals dissolve in the water. A unique group of bacteria, called “sulfur bacteria” or “sulfate-reducing bacteria” can change sulfate and other sulfur containing compounds, including natural organic materials, to hydrogen sulfide gas.
Hydrogen sulfide does not usually pose immediate health problems at the levels it is found in domestic drinking supplies. However, it is certainly an inconvenience — especially to one’s nose, as it creates a “rotten egg” smell.
And hence, the root of all drinking water evil (!): the dreaded “rotten egg” smell.
The very first time I was asked by my Mom to make Kool-Aid for the rest of my brothers and sisters was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. NO amount of sugar could cover up what was to be one of the most historic events of my childhood. Take the funniest spit-take you have ever seen on TV and multiply if by, oh, I don’t know, maybe a MILLION and that was what I witnessed that hot summer afternoon.
But wait, it gets even better. Or worse, as the story implies.
A big family staple was always cereal — and you can’t have cereal without milk. Determined to eat what was left of my favorite cereal, I remembered Mom having a box of powdered milk in the cupboard somewhere. Now, take the excitement and jubilation of a child on Christmas and then tell him his dog died and then multiply that by, oh, I don’t know maybe a MILLION, and that’s what it was when I decided out of desperation to used the tainted well water, mixed with powdered milk to try and eat my cereal.
And that’s why I will never eat Cheerios again.
Living in the country provides many good and bad experiences — but my brothers and sisters and I think we can all agree that the sulfur rotten-egg smell of bad well water is something we can do without. And yet, there is a corner of the rural community that actual insists that that smell is OK with them and in some instances makes other food and drink taste better. Those people are easy to identify however, they wave blue and maize colored flags … LOL!
Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!
The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.