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Wednesday April 23, 2014
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The Big Chill at the Clements

 

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The advent of the first breakdown-prone electric refrigerators in the early 1920s made the ice industry nervous, as seen in several defensive mottoes: "A block of Ice never gets out of order," "Those who really know prefer Ice," "Of course it's safe - it's an Ice refrigerator."

One engraving depicts an unwieldy contraption for converting an icebox to an electric refrigerator, and Longone notes there were also schemes in this transitional period for deconverting high-maintenance electrics back into no-fuss iceboxes.

For the next few decades, to judge by exhibit artifacts, electrics became almost cult objects of domesticity, as seen in ads showing happy high-heeled housewives and a woman touching a pearly fridge with religious awe. Don't miss the sheet music extolling Frigidaires.

The show answered my long-standing question of why, if cold air falls, freezers are traditionally on the top of refrigerators. Seems like a holdover from icebox days. The realization gave me a twinge of nostalgia.

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