Definition:  an artificial reservoir for storing liquids, esp. water: specif : an often underground tank for storing rainwater. Webster's

    There was one, out the back door, down the steps and just to the left.  Mounted on the cover was a pump.  This cistern did in fact store rainwater from the roof.  The downspout came down the corner of the house and was divided in two, about three feet from the ground.  One line led away from the house and the other led straight to the cistern.  A novel, manual valve controlled the direction of flow.
    Water from the cistern was used to water the garden and to wash with after tending the garden.  The long pump handle enabled even the smallest child to draw the cool water.
    I remember the demise of the cistern.  Why it was no longer deemed necessary remains an unanswered question.  We began filling the hole with old tin cans that had both ends removed and flattened, so this was some time after the end of the war.  Along with that, ash and clinkers from the furnace finished the job.
    No trace remains of what once was a valuable part of backyard life.  The area was cemented over to create the patio.

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