When I was young, old-timers called a refrigerator an icebox. In their day they had wooden iceboxes. When the electric refrigerator came along, old-timers continued to call them iceboxes. The refrigerator that I grew up with was an electric Kelvinator. It was about five feet tall with rounded corners at the top.
When you opened the door, there was a tiny freezer box at top center. It might have been 12 or so inches wide, made of aluminum with a flimsy aluminum door. Open the little aluminum door and the freezing coil was visible in the top. This was our freezer space. The rest of the space inside was reserved for refrigerated goods.
This freezer left a lot to be desired. My parents bought cheaper ice cream, usually Neapolitan, which was chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. The flavors were in sections in the carton. In my house chocolate and vanilla were quickly consumed, but not the strawberry.
If you put the unused strawberry back in the freezer, it would refreeze. If the ice cream was left in the freezer very long, large ice crystals would form. As if strawberry wasn’t bad enough, the ice crystals didn’t do a thing to improve the flavor. Hard pressed, it would do in a pinch.
Our refrigerator had to be defrosted several times a year. Ice over an inch thick would build up on the inside and outside of the little freezer box. Defrosting took several hours. To expedite the process, we would take a butter knife and try to pry the ice away as it weakened. You had to be careful not to puncture the freezer coil. Water dripped everywhere as the ice melted.
Do you remember having a TV antenna? On High Street we had an antenna for television reception. About 20 feet from the house was the antenna. There was a two-inch diameter metal pole that went into the ground. The antenna pole was attached to the metal pole with two or more u-shaped clamps that resembled muffler clamps. Our antenna was probably 18 feet or more off the ground.
We got three channels in those days – WMTW Channel 8 out of Poland Spring, Maine. Next was WMUR Channel 9 out of New Hampshire. Both of these channels came in well although in black and white. Do you remember Marty atop Mt. Washington giving the days weather? If you remember him, you’ll remember his goofy grin when he signed off. It was a big deal in my house to see Marty on TV. WCAX Channel 3 out of Burlington never came in well, being snowy much of the time.
If it became windy, the antenna could move and you’d lose the picture. It was usually me, because I was the youngest, who had to go outdoors and turn the antenna. Sometimes I used a pipe wrench to turn the frozen pole.
Someone inside would rap on the window to let me know when the picture was clear. Sometimes I’d turn a bit too far and the picture became snowy. There they were in comfort inside the house while I shivered in the knee-deep snow. They were waving their arms and yelling at me. Ok, I would turn the antenna back some.
I remember when the Parkers got a Motorola antenna system. There was a box on top of their TV that had a dial about four inches in diameter. Whether you turned the dial clockwise or counter clockwise, the antenna would follow. It was magic.
Kim Kendall’s antenna was on the peak of the gable end of the house. They only got Channel 8. The roof is slate so how to get up to the antenna had to be solved. Kim’s father, Nelson found a tall slim spruce tree, maybe five inches diameter at the butt. Nelson cut it to about 30 feet long and split it lengthwise down the middle creating the sides of a 30-foot ladder. Next Nelson nailed narrow boards between the sides for steps. When the antenna had to be turned, they got out this homemade ladder. Picture the base of the ladder well away from the house, so much so that the ladder incline matched the pitch of the roof.
The photo with this article is a metal icebox in Chester Historical Society collection. It dates to 1915 and was the Cadillac of iceboxes. Do you remember the test patterns?
This week’s old saying: “The older the tree, the sweeter the sap.”