I was getting something out of the refrigerator this morning and I had left the door open for a couple minutes. In my head I could hear mom and dad saying “don’t leave the door open”. This lead to think about the time I had a conversation with my son about leaving the hot food out to cool before putting it in the fridge. Until recently, as recently as a couple of years ago, I thought it was because the food had to be cool to put it away safely. When my son asked why we left the food to cool I told him that, so he, of course, asked mom who said “so it doesn’t warm the refrigerator up.” We got a good laugh from that and still chuckle when we leave food out to cool before putting it in the fridge.

Mom grew up with very little refrigeration. What they did have was an icebox which was good until there was no more ice to be gotten. Vegetables were canned or pickled, eggs were fresh daily from the chickens and no one cared if they sat out for days. They raised chickens and they had pigs for pork to salt and trade with the farmers that had cows. I remember going to the cellar, which had a dirt floor, shelves of canned vegetables and a huge potato bin when it was time to get meals ready. There was refrigeration in the house by the time I came along but aside from the pigs everything was still the same.

The fridge. Eventually my grandparents did get a refrigerator. I remember dad telling me the story of grampa always having paid cash, remember this was the forties and he was a farmer, so when store credit came along he thought it was nonsense. Until gramma wanted a new, fancy, plug it into the wall refrigerator. Mom must have been in her early twenties if dad was in the picture and she had Sears credit. Really that’s only place anyone shopped if they wanted appliances, Sears and Roebuck. Dad said grampa very sheepishly asked mom if she could get the fridge and he’d pay her back. Dad said gramma was thrilled to be able to have cold milk and butter.

This morning I was thinking back to our old Frigidaire. When it was manufactured in forties or early fifties it was a sweet little unit with the tiny little freezer that really didn’t keep things frozen and had to be defrosted every few months. I was thinking that when we built the house we have now and mom got her new refrigerator with a real freezer unit, more space and the ability to keep things cold she must have felt much like gramma did when she got her first one.

Gramma also had a ringer washer which was basically a wash tub that moved around a little then the clothes were squished through these two rollers, turned by hand, to get some of the water out. There was no dryer, clothes were hung on the line. Rain, snow, sun, the clothes went out to the clothes line.

As time goes on these types of things mom can’t replace because she’s on a fixed income. When we needed a new dryer I had to be a grown up, do some research and use my own Sears charge and get one for her.

I do worry now as things in the house are getting older. The dryer is now getting old and it is overused. We really could use a new washer, I try to use it sparingly but it also gets overused. I also got her a new oven a few years back but honestly I think appliances are made to “expire” so we have to buy more. A new Fridge would be great but it’ll have to wait.

If I take the time to think about the process and evolution of things from mom’s perspective I can easily see why she still worries about running out of water, they used a hand pump from dug wells, even the house I grew up in had a dug well and we had to be careful. She got this crazy generator because she no longer has the ability to even carry the wood for a stove if the power goes out. A washer and a dryer are still luxuries for her.

She still won’t put food away warm even though there’s a good chance the fridge will be fine.




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