A SMILE AND A WINK: Smiley T. Water-Tower served city for many yearsSmiley’s obituary follows, even though he’s not officially dead yet. That will come Thursday or Friday, barring some supporter chaining himself to it. So, grab a hanky and read on: Smiley T. Water-Tower, either 78 or 32 years old depending on your perspective, has died.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
Smiley’s obituary follows, even though he’s not officially dead yet. That will come Thursday or Friday, barring some supporter chaining himself to it. So, grab a hanky and read on:
Smiley T. Water-Tower, either 78 or 32 years old depending on your perspective, has died.
Smiley was born in 1931, the son of Tap Water and Eiffel Tower. But he didn’t crack a smile, muster a wink or wear a bowtie until 1977.
The lone survivor is his ugly stepchild, Purpur Water-Tower.
He was preceded in death by bowties, his parents and cousin Smiley Face, who died from severe jaundice.
Cause of death was lead paint poisoning. Local humanitarian efforts were made to heal Smiley by replacing the lethal lead-based paint. But Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota denied the treatment, citing a pre-existing condition and the need to pay outlandish bonuses to its executives.
Also contributing to Smiley’s death were tightfisted Grand Forks City Council members, who voted against spending $400,000 for repairs and instead spent the money on frivolous matters such as police and fire protection.
Smiley’s latter years were difficult ones, as he was defenseless against pigeon droppings and peregrine falcons’ whoopee.
The 130-foot-tall Smiley retired from the water storage business in 2000, pushed out by younger, more virile water towers with twice the capacity. He spent his last nine years watching big SUVs blow through red lights at the intersection of South Washington Street and DeMers Avenue.
Smiley was in semi-retirement for several years before his full retirement, taking the winters off. But since he was an underpaid city employee, he could not afford to winter in Arizona.
Mourners include residents who regard Smiley as: 1) a symbol of Grand Forks’ friendliness and positive attitude; 2) an antidote for cold winters; 3) an icon to be waved at by youngsters as they motor to day care; 4) a landmark to historians and other lovers of old, broken-down stuff; 5) a goodwill ambassador; and 6) something easy to mock.
There will not be funeral services nor a cremation, as Smiley will be sold for scrap metal. Pallbearers are a crane, a wrecking ball, forklifts and some big trucks.
But Smiley will lie in state at the Alerus Center all weekend.
Sadness is inevitable in the passing of Smiley and his 78 years of service to Grand Forks. Don’t be embarrassed if you shed a tear while watching a toilet flush.
Memorials can be sent to the Demolish the Former Civic Auditorium Fund in care of City Hall.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.