The fountain on Sproul Plaza has been the backdrop for countless street dramas over the years. But I can only remember two times when the fountain itself played a part in the story.
The first story is kind of funny. A bunch of us were hanging out there at the fountain one night after the Hate Man drum circle had ended. We’re sitting there on the ledge, smoking cigarettes and chillin’ and etc. When this homeless friend of mine sauntered over and joined the conversation. And he‘s got this big green frame-backpack on his back.
Suddenly he notices all the coins on the bottom of the fountain. Ya know? People throw them in there for good luck. But it turned out they weren’t so lucky for him.
“Man there’s enough coins in the fountain to buy me another forty!!” he said, excitedly.
So he kneels on the ledge and reaches down into the water to grab some of the coins at the bottom.
It was the weirdest thing. One second he’s sitting there talking to us. And the next second he’s completely submerged in the water. We could actually see him underwater swimming, doing the breaststroke, his cheeks puffed out like a blowfish.
Well, he pulls himself out of the fountain, sputtering and cursing, and soaking wet. And we’re all laughing, busting our guts because it was so funny.
Fortunately I had an extra set of dry clothes for him stashed at my office. So he didn’t freeze to death or nothing. But I can still see that picture in mind as clear as a bell, 20 years later. Him underwater in the fountain doing the breaststroke .