A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


William Carlos Williams, Ice Boxes & Refrigerators
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

If I were to tell my Rebecca that I flew in a DC-3 she would not know what I was talking about. If I told her that in Buenos Aires we had our ice delivered every four days by the hielero (the ice man) and that a cloaquero or drain man came to my house to clear our drains once a month (the stench!), she would not understand. She is from a generation that has no reason to look up into the sky when it hears the noise of an airplane.

But she is not all that far gone. A few years ago I took her to the Abbotsford Air Show and I asked her which airplane was her favourite. Her replay was instant, "I like the F-15 because it is the loudest."

When Rebecca comes over on Saturdays the first thing she does is raid our refrigerator. I would never tell her not to. I remember the first time I opened a refrigerator door. It was exciting. After all it was in 1952 and I was ten. Until that year that hielero had delivered a block of ice (I am not sure) about once a week. But since my mother, who taught at the Buenos Aires American School, had friends and connections with the US Embassy she brought home stuff like poppy seed bagels, Erector sets, Bazooka and Double Bubble gum, and that wonderful used Kelvinator which made me king of the block. A neighbour had a spanking new Ford V-8 but that was nothing compared to our heladera. In the heladera I made my first package of lime Jell-O. Royal, the Argentine brand, wasn't good enough and lemon Royal was simply not green at all! I remember concocting what I called a refrigerio. I would slice sweet Scraping at them with a spoon was a delight. The most beautiful aspect of our heladera is that it had the compressor motor sitting on the top. Looking back I think it resembled a Russian space station.

The heladera became a refrigerador in Mexico City but my mother insisted it be a Kelvinator. When she moved to Veracruz in the late 50s she bought a Kelvinator there. We brought that Kelvinator back to Mexico City when Rosemary and I installed ourselves in the outskirts of Mexico City. We quickly outgrew it. We needed a bigger one. I sold the the Kelvinator to one of my English students. A day later I received an irate call from her. She was sending it back. It was disgusting she protested. I had not checked the back of the fridge and it had traveled from Veracruz with nests of cockroaches. The insect was impossible to erradicate in Veracruz and we had learned to live with them. In the end we scrapped it and bought a Kenmore at Sears Roebuck the Mexico.

Every once in a while when Rebecca raids our present Kenmore (the Richmond store) she asks me to read her a poem that is one of our favourites. And when I do so she repeats the words at the same time as she knows it by heart.

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

To further complicate matters, Spaniards call the Argentine heladera and the Mexican refrigerador a frigorífico. My Spanish grandmother made it much more simple. She always called it la Kelvinator. Because of fluctuating voltage in Latin America, fridges never last more than a couple of years before their compressor motors burn out. The rewiring of the motor cores is a thriving business. The mechanic shops advertise as rebobinado (re-coring). Since the freon or the freon substitute coolant gas escapes during this operation there is another business....


Previous Posts
Deep Throat - Chuck Traynor & My New London Fog

The Pointe Of It All - Max Wyman - A Dancing Shoe ...

A Brief Encounter With A Cellist & The Hairdresser...

Doctor Death Checks Out Prematurely- Posthumous Th...

Sudden Death (Records) - Band of Rebels

It's A Wonderful Life, Dean Paul Gibson's Touch & ...

Norval Morrisseau The Grand Shaman & His Hungarian...

Noël Coward, Hycroft & The Mystery Bassoonist

Grasshoppers, Butterflies & Snow

James Barber, 1923 - 2007 & French Onion Soup

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010