The purchase of our first home included with it a vintage refrigerator nearly original to the 70-year-old residence. We lovingly referred to it as the DeSoto for its curved top and liberal use of chrome deco-styled trim. It reminded us of the state-of-the-art vehicles built to satisfy the pent-up demand immediately following the merciful end of World War II. And much like the auto we imagined it to emulate, the door was comprised of an abundance of steel and the sound, if closed with great vigor, quite satisfactorily replicated that of a slamming car door.
My parents, concerned for our newlywed well-being, surprised us with the gift of a current model not long after we moved-in. Even as our hopes for the place were boundless, our budget was not. As I recall, Mom and Dad even threw in some food – just to get us started. But, I couldn’t bring myself to retire the DeSoto. With a much stronger (and younger) back then than now, I moved the displaced behemoth to the basement to fill with tasty beverages and the occasional overflow from our proud new appliance in the kitchen.
Some years later, our fortunes had improved but the DeSoto was still doing yeoman’s work. In the frequent power outages that often accompany older homes with even older infrastructure, we could count on the thick walls and insulation to keep contents cool for hours – if not days – on end. I was proud of the DeSoto (and maybe a little smug about my self-proclaimed thrift). Then a particularly environmentally-minded friend chastised me pointing out that a new device would pay for itself with electricity savings in a single year. When is it best to let go of the past – and how do we determine the worth of our sentimentality?