Last updated: July 6, 2016
June heralds the start of the summer season in New England, and along with it comes the need for groundskeepers and gardeners to water their lawns, flowerbeds and vegetable plots. Alice Longfellow's formal garden and sizable lawns in the 1920s were no exception, and no doubt needed careful watering throughout the summer. This month's featured object is a sprinkler likely used on the property by gardener Michael Gaffney, who began working for Alice Longfellow in 1924.The sprinkler, a "Rain King" model produced by the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, bears a patent date of Jan. 8, 1925. The inventor of the Rain King, Mr. Finis E. Roach, received patents for at least five different types of sprinklers during the 1920s and 1930s. His Rain King sprinkler, which was actually in production for a few years before the patent was granted, was designed with the idea that the nozzles could be adjusted in order to produce different patterns of spraying water, depending on what was needed. An advertisement for the sprinkler boasted "Grass, flowers, shrubs, trees or seeded beds - Rain King will water each kind of growth with precisely the jet, stream, spray or mist-cloud the situation demands." Despite their relatively high cost, the aforementioned ad listed the price as $3.50, they proved popular and were produced until about 1940, when an improved model was released under the name of the Sunbeam Corporation.