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A Texas Two Step

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I recently came across a catalog with an entire section devoted to "retro" appliances and other items.

I mentioned this to a friend and she said she has an old Sunbeam Mixmaster in her kitchen. It's still in use and she believes it was purchased in the late 1950s. She said it is avocado green. I have an old double-slice toaster in the rounded style of the early 60s. It still works. I recall that my mother used an old toaster, probably dating back to the 20s or 30s. It opened on both sides and you slipped the bread on and closed it up. As I recall, you had to watch it – there was no automatic turnoff.

When my husband and I first moved to Dallas, we rented an old duplex for a year. It was a beautiful architect-built structure in the Mediterranean style. However, the kitchen had not been updated since the late 50s. Both the range and the refrigerator were in the ubiquitous avocado green. As I recall, the other popular color from the 50s was a deep golden yellow. Both the stove and fridge still worked perfectly. In fact, the survival of all these old machines stands as a testimonial to the quality of American manufacturing during the era. I wonder if we still have many of these factories left.

My own mixer in my kitchen is a Kitchen Aid which I believe is an American company and still in operation. I purchased the mixer in the early 90s. The style hasn't changed since its inception decades ago basically because Kitchen Aid allows function to dictate design. The only change over the past few years is that it is available now in a wide choice of colors beyond the original white.

I also have an old Osterizer Galaxie blender. It still works perfectly well although I seldom use it. These old appliances also bring back memories of the advertising of the times. I recall seeing, as a youngster, magazine ads and, later, television ads featuring a pretty housewife in a pretty dress, wearing a pretty apron, speaking about pleasing her husband and family with confections from her kitchen. The woman, the setting and the dialog would probably be considered politically incorrect today.

I don't delude myself that the 50s and early 60s produced uniformly caring parents, all with polite, well-behaved offspring. But I find great irony in the fact that, following the rise of the sexual revolution and feminism, we are a lot less civil to each other than we were back then and we seem, on the whole, less happy as a nation with a lessening of belief in ourselves. My father occasionally would say, "It's always darkest before it gets really dark."

What the 'retro' catalog really brought back was memories of the optimistic tenor that prevailed in the 1950s and early 60s, the Cold War notwithstanding.

Perhaps, like everyone else, I'm just looking for better days.



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