October 20, 2010

Christian Science water

When I put the viewfinder to my eye the other night to frame this photo of Boston's First Church of Christ, Scientist (Mother Church), throwing its magnificent stone glory into the great, oblong reflecting pool that runs the length of Christian Science Plaza, I thought of Venice. I remember taking a photo of Santa Maria della Salute, a night shot, the basilica bouncing its reflection into the Grand Canal.

As if on cue, a boat shot by in the reflecting pool, looking like one of the speedboats that ply the Venice lagoon. A middle-aged man sitting cross-legged on the pavement that rims the reflecting pool was playing with his motorized model boat in the dark.

The Venice flashback dimmed when I turned to see the lights of Boston's tallest buildings glowing in the background. And the Venice image truly disappeared when I saw the plaza's fountain. Its jets are positioned so the sprays of water cross over each other, a feat engineered by my father-in-law, a blue collar Boston plumber, long retired.

My father-in-law was on the job installing the waterworks when the Christian Science Center was being built in the early '70s. (I wonder if he ever ran into I.M.Pei.) He and his crew were installing the fountain, its sprays designed to shoot straight. One morning a bigwig from the Christian Science Church went to inspect the fountain-in-progress and asked that the sprays be made to cross each other.

My father-in-law got some plywood blocks and jury rigged the nozzles. He crossed his fingers that his MacGyvering would make the sprays cross. They did, and they still do, all these years later.

Whenever we walk or drive by the fountain we tell the kids, "Your grandfather did that."