I BOUGHTa fridge last weekend. Woop-de-do, you might think, but it came with something very special. A story.
It’s a 1955 Pope fridge, a big, round-shouldered beast with chrome handles and hinges which could have come straight from the car industry of the same period.
It has a bit of a ding on one corner, a bit of rust in one foot and the lid on the crisper box has been mended with two bits of wood and some screws.
The bloke I bought it from said it was his grand-dad’s, and he’d intended to use it as a beer fridge, but since then, he’d moved and it had to go.
We got it home and cleaned it (just some dust from being in storage for a while), turned it on and away it went. Chilly in a matter of minutes.
I’ve never felt “chuffed” by a fridge before. I started to wonder: why do people like old things?
It may well be a function of my age, but I find myself drawn more and more to things from other times: Kevin the old Bongo van, the clapped out Ural Russian motorcycle, the French tandem bike from the 70s, a dining room table which had served another family for four generations, a bit of concrete from the Berlin wall.
While in some cases, such as the table, the older things are still more solid and practical than new stuff, you can’t say that about other items in my house and shed …such as the fridge. I’m sure new fridges are more efficient, cheaper. But new fridges will not be around in 60 or 70 years.
I suspect the urge to hold and cherish old things is a sort of time travel.
While we can’t move forward in time – yet – we can absolutely go backwards.
Sitting at a table covered with the dings and marks of generations, including furtively scratched initials underneath, puts you in their time stream. You sense how they sat, ate, chatted, argued and celebrated.
It’s the same with the fridge. We had one of these things when I was a child. And even those two bits of wood holding the crisper lid on show the human contact. The seller’s grand-dad had loved this thing and patched it in a way you’d expect a grand-dad to mend it.
These things are relics from earlier times, connecting us with our histories, markers to the path which led us to who and what we are now.
A Pope fridge, to me, is as potent a relic of human history as a pyramid or any other ancient monument.
Perhaps it’s really a reverse search for immortality. We can’t be immortal into the future, but we can be to some extent through the past.
On the other hand, it might just be a beaut beer fridge.
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