Friday, January 1, 2010

They Just Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

In the sad news department, my wife just announced that our toaster of over 34 years is being retired from the front lines on our kitchen counter. Philosophically, it could take me a while to get over it. Although after somehow managing to deal with the initial shock, I'm trying my best to push past the denial, anger and depression and move into acceptance as quickly as possible.

Experiencing all the stages of grief is important when it comes to toasters. But at times like these, the faster you can do it, the better. After all, it's breakfast time and there's a new toaster to break in. With any luck, the new one could take me to my 90th birthday….

Mind you, it's not that the old model-a Sunbeam-is broken. That is, unless using the plug dangling on the end of its slightly cracked electrical cord as an "On-Off" switch, translates as being broken. And then there is the mandatory recalibration of the darkness/lightness dial for each piece of toast. But, hey. Isn't that how all toasters operate?

My wife and I received our little toaster unit back in 1970 as a slightly delayed wedding gift from my wife's aunt and uncle. It was our first major appliance. Anyone in the middle class who got married back then will know just what I mean. If it cost more than $25.00 and had an electric cord, it was major. And this one was a beauty. I had never seen chrome like that. You could shave using the shiny side of that little Sunbeam. And, given the size of our first apartment, me shaving at the kitchen sink was not an infrequent occurrence.

Actually, I think the toaster and I have reached an understanding over the years. The toaster works great-it's just that any new operators unfamiliar with the nuances of its quirky behavior must first receive the standard operations briefing if they are to have any chance of success with bread products. Heed the advice and you get toast worthy of breakfast at The Ritz. "Dis" the toaster and risk electric shock, toxic smoke and a deeply penetrating burnt toast smell that will linger for days. I don't want to brag but, based on the toxic toaster smoke alone, our kitchen has been designated an official Hazardous Materials training facility by the federal government.

Our married life began uneventfully, just like every other average couple right out of college. I mean, didn't everyone back then leave home in a VW bug packed to the roof line with all their earthly possessions? Just because we only had the afore-mentioned toaster, a blender and a black and white TV, were we so very different? For good measure, we squeezed in a 9'X12' braid rug before we hit the road in Fargo, ND bound for Miami. The rug, TV and blender passed away long ago but for some reason the toaster remained a timeless treasure over the years. And together our family adventures haven't stopped-well, except for that one time in 1985 when I brought home a Dodge Merry Miler camper van.

Hard to say why. But maybe it was my casual declaration that our new land boat would be our transportation and temporary housing during the two-week cross-country trip to our new home in California from Washington, DC. Imagine my shock when my wife announced without a moment's hesitation that I would be traveling in my new rolling stock aquisition alone. Correction: It would be me and the cat in the Merry Miler, left to enjoy my library of Eagles 8-track tapes for 3,000 miles. She said it was a difficult decision but it was a concession the rest of the family was willing to make. Reluctantly, she and the kids would ride in the "other car."

Sad but true.

Needless to say, I was touched by their generosity. After all, they had to know there would be untold van adventures and memories they would miss. OK. So, the cat trying to escape at a rest stop near Denver was a surprise for me, too. How could anyone have predicted a single dose of sleep meds and Dramamine at 5:00 a.m. wouldn't be enough to keep kitty sedated all day?

After that episode, the cat was relocated to the safe haven of the "other car"--along with the toaster....


  1. Yes, the whole thing brough a tear to my eye as well....


  2. Oh sad. My kids still haven't forgiven me for retiring our toaster oven, so I understand your pain.


  3. This makes me wish the appliances today could stack up to your toaster. I'm pretty sure that nothing I currently own will last thirty years.

    If I were you, I'd go toaster-less. Any replacement at this point will likely make you feel the loss even more!

  4. I'm one who grows attached to appliances a lot like I grow attached to my cars. Giving them up is wrenching. I even have some of my grandmother's old kitchen tools that I remember as a kid. Can't give those up! Besides the new and glossing touch pad machines don't have that tactile appeal.