Saturday, June 19, 2010

Heritage: Household Appliances

KENNEWICK, WASHINGTON - When someone has lived in a house for more than sixty years, they are bound to have retained some items that have since become historically significant. My grandmother has been living in the same house here basically since World War II. In the past, this blog has featured her toaster, which remains in daily use. On this trip, I encountered some additional items of similar vintage.

A pot in continuous use for at least sixty years sat on my grandmother's stove in Kennewick, Washington on 19-June-2010

The pot above certainly looks its age, no longer smooth in finish. Not long after my grandmother had moved into her present home in the 1940's, her parents-in-law visited. She made a roast, and the pot she used was so large--big enough for a turkey--that her mother-in-law noted that she needed a smaller one. The next time they visited, they brought the pot, which was not new at the time, meaning that it is entirely possible that it pre-dates World War II. It hasn't left the house since, and remains my grandmother's moderate-size workhorse pot to present day. Probably hundreds of meals have been cooked in it, the most recent chicken and dumplings.

An electric hair dryer from the immediate post-World War II era was noted with its original box in Kennewick, Washington on 19-June-2010

While I had certainly seen that pot before, I don't think I had ever seen a gem I
stumbled upon in the basement while looking for light bulbs. Sitting in what was apparently its original box, it was a Kenmore electric hair dryer. Purchased by my grandfather as a gift for my grandmother at Sears Roebeck, it was silver in color, streamline moderne in shape, and rested on its own silver base plate. While used for its intended purpose for many years, it had survived as a tool to help defrost the basement freezer periodically, stored between uses where I found it. While it still worked, it seemed unlikely to ever be used again, with so many more modern devices around to do the same tasks. I returned it to its place on the shelf.

I suspect the toaster and the pot will remain in the family indefinitely. The hair dryer might be in the East Benton County Historical Museum someday.

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