Frosty freezer causes melt-down at Bob’s house

Frosty freezer causes melt-down at Bob's house By Bob Karolevitz Phyllis is defrosting the freezer, so I try to be on my good behavior and not make humorous (?) remarks as she goes about one of her least favorite chores.

Maybe we don't always shut the door tight enough, or for some other reason ice builds up on the shelves until it looks like we're starting an igloo.

At any rate, when it gets bad enough, Phyllis attacks it with knife and ice pick, and I don't say a thing when she's got those weapons in her hands. Ice flies everywhere as she chips away like a person possessed.

She also uses two of her electric hair-dryers to help in the melt-down. She wears rubber boots, too.

Of course everything has to come out of the freezer during the process. There's meat enough for a platoon. Bags of rhubarb and apples await their turn to become pies. Tomatoes from our garden are frozen in jars to be used ultimately in spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup and chili. There's store-bought pizza, ice cream and I think a box of Polish pierogis.

It makes my mouth water to see it all, but at defrosting time, Phyllis isn't thinking about food for the table. Preservation is top priority, and she's in a hurry to get the job done before any thawing occurs.

All of this got me to thinking about how things were without freezers. Preserving food was always as important as clothes to wear and a roof overhead. Meats were smoked, dried and pickled. Housewives canned endless jars of fruit and vegetables. Onions were braided and hung up to dry.

Eggs were packed away in sawdust. So were carrots. Farms all had root cellars for storing potatoes � and having a place to go when tornadoes threatened. Even youngsters of my generation can remember picking sprouts off of spuds. I was a town kid, and I did it, too.

We were fortunate. We had an ice box to keep things from spoiling. Mother put a sign in the window when we needed another 25-pound block; and the ice man in his leather apron delivered it with his trusty tongs. The drip pan under the box had to be emptied periodically, and that's as close as we came to defrosting at our house.

Poor Phyllis. They didn't have an ice box at their farm. Instead her mother put butter and milk in the artesian well tank to keep it cool. They finally got a kerosene-operated Electrolux refrigerator with a big superstructure on top. She remembered that it smelled bad, but she doesn't think it needed defrosting either.

I'm glad Phyllis doesn't involve me in her freezer ferocity. It's really a one-person job, like column-writing. Only my hands don't get as cold.

I suppose we could get along without a freezer, but they are nice to have around when the garden is producing and there's a good price on half a hog. If they'd have been available then, pioneers probably would have had them crammed full of prairie chickens, buffalo tongues and catfish, but I'm day-dreaming now.

On the other hand, what's going through Phyllis's mind as she chips way might not be printable. No doubt she's thinking that Monsignor Reilly didn't say "love, honor, obey and defrost the freezer" when he tied our marital knot many years ago.

I have a feeling that a new self defrosting freezer has moved up on her priority list of things to buy. I offered to get her an ice box, but the ice wagon quit running a long time ago, and I'm not about to go down to the river to saw out our own supply.

Most likely our freezer has about seen its day. I'll hate to see it go, and no doubt Phyllis has developed a sentimental attachment to it. But with no defrosting to do, she'll have time on her hands.

Maybe then she'll help me de-sprout a few potatoes. It'll be a lot easier on her arthritis.

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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