COBWEB CORNERS: From ice boxes to refrigerators
By Mel McFarland
There are so many things around us that have brought change. I have my grandfather's old Smith-Corona typewriter, and in school, even in college, I used it to do research papers. If I'd had my computer back then, what a change it would have been!
Way back, I talked about the number of neighborhood grocery stores that used to be around. They were all over town, almost one per block, counting those along Colorado Avenue. I know at 30th and Colorado 60 years ago you could stand and see three within a block. All of those are long gone. There is one building on Kiowa, near Whittier School, and I do not know if the people who live there know it, but it was a grocery store until about 1957.
So why so many?
It was refrigerators. When all we had was ice boxes, nobody kept much fresh eggs, meat and other things. People often had a full pantry with canned goods, even some they canned themselves. Fresh came from the store down the street. When anyone wanted meat they would walk to the store and get what they needed. Foods like bacon were heavily salted to last longer in an ice box. The milkman came around because it was ready and cold. There was not a lot of room in the ice box. Even when people bought refrigerators, they were not all that big.
Every couple of years, I go to England. One of the things you notice is that their houses, especially the kitchens, are smaller. The regular refrigerators are less than half the size of ours because many of them still shop for fresh vegetables, eggs and meat several times a week because of storage problems. The refrigerator has changed our society, slowly, but surely. Even leftovers have crept into our lives, thanks to modern refrigerators, and their cousin, the freezer.
The early refrigerators had a tiny spot for making ice cubes. Thanks to the size of the refrigerator, and opening the door often, they froze up really easily. The housewives' nightmare was defrosting it. Freezers were worse. The self defrosting freezer was a real boon. Years ago I had a gas refrigerator because I lived in an area where the electricity was not that reliable. Years later I went back and almost all the gas ones were gone. The power company had gotten better.