I grew up in Baytown, Texas in a house built by my grandfather. It sat on Danubina Street, about half a block east of James Street. About three blocks away, heading north, was Highway 146, a major four-lane highway. Across the highway on James Street sat a water tower owned by the City of Baytown. We had a clear view of the tower from our house. It was one of those whose tank was round and fat, not the tall and thin variety. Most of the year this tank was basically invisible to us, just part of the scenery. But at Christmas time, everything changed. The City workers covered the tank with colored lights, strung very close together, and it was a glorious sight. There must have been thousands of them, turning the steel gray tank into a jewel sitting high in the sky.
I don't know how old I was when I discovered these lights, but I know I was very young. After seeing them once, I was hooked. I waited each year for the lights to go on and then would sit on our front steps, if it was warm enough, and stare at them. If too cool to stay outside, I peered at them through the slats of our wooden venetian blinds. I have often wondered what it was about these particular lights that fascinated me and I don't have an answer. I remember fixing my stare on the lights and then slowing closing my eyes a little, so the individual lights blurred and became a glowing orb, like something descending from heaven. I imagined that the lights were really jewels whose sheer fabulous-ness made them light up, like a giant crown sitting in the sky.
We would see other lights at Christmas, driving around the "rich" neighborhoods of Roseland Oaks and Country Club Oaks, seeing how the other half lived. I loved doing that and loved seeing the displays, but somehow they didn't measure up to the gorgeous tower.
Years passed and they eventually quit putting the lights on the tower; it was probably a safety issue. I was in middle school then and the loss of the lights didn't seem to matter too much. Had it happened in elementary, I would have been crushed. I often wish that I had a photo of the tower to help me remember, but, on the other hand, I'm glad I don't. I doubt that, in reality, it was as wonderful as it is in my memory. I'm afraid the photo would show that it was a little tacky, lights burned out here and there, and not nearly as many of them as I thought. I'm content for the jeweled crown of light to live just as it is in my mind.
Thanks for stopping by today. Two days are left on the challenge, so I'll see you tomorrow.