Hard-pressed to find a Sixties housewife/stay-at-home mom portrayed by June Cleaver, coiffed and ready to tackle housework in a shirtwaist dress, heels, and pearls—I’m not the least bit surprised! Running a household in the Sixties entailed more than waltzing Hoover in a dress—interpret that as you will—or, swishing a dustcloth. Take into consideration the appliances which passed muster as modern conveniences for that era.
Let’s turn the dial to zero and get ready to fight the Cold War on the home front. We’re about to defrost the fridge!
Before my family owned a self-defrost fridge, my mother initiated “global warming” inside the freezer compartment of our non-self-defrosting model. Before reusable, resealable plastic Ziploc storage bags were developed for consumers in 1968, you could store meat in the freezer the way it came packaged from the market. You could also parcel it out and repackage it in plastic wrap, and add on insulation by shrouding in aluminum wrap.
Meanwhile, frost had the potential to build up inside the freezer until the walls closed in as the ice continent of Antarctica. My mother never let the threat of “burial” escalate too far in the Cold War, having developed an offensive strategy which essentially amounted to a preemptive strike to break the ice.
1. Every two weeks, she initiated “defrosting” by turning the freezer dial to zero. She emptied the freezer and placed its contents on the kitchen counters.
2. Strategically placing a pan of hot water in the freezer speeded up the process of melting the frost. I’m told this took about an hour, so none of the meat on the counter had a chance to thaw. I remember the perk of her doling out popsicles to my sister and me along with any of our friends who happened to be in the yard during the Cold War front.
3. Soon, the catch basin beneath the freezer filled with water during this transformation from solid to liquid. My mother gingerly lifted this cumbersome rectangular tub and slowly walked it to the sink to pour the dregs down the drain.
4. During the process of fighting the Cold War, my mother wiped down the interiors of the fridge and freezer before replacing the frozen booty. My mother not only won this Cold War, but knew how to defrost other situations before they escalated.
As in life, it’s best to anticipate and be prepared by assuming an offensive stance. Since my mother taught by example, my sister and I followed her lead—those pearls of wisdom frozen in time.
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