They sure don’t make them like they used to. Based on the flood of responses the Peoria Journal Star got to its call for “workhorses” — appliances that have taken a licking and kept on ticking for 30, 40 up to 60 years and more — there is some truth to the cliche. Dozens wrote in about their old appliances — everything from refrigerators built in the 40s to washers and dryers handed down so many times who knows how old they are to a 30-year-old hair dryer still good as new.
They sure don’t make them like they used to.
Based on the flood of responses the Peoria Journal Star got to its call for “workhorses” — appliances that have taken a licking and kept on ticking for 30, 40 up to 60 years and more — there is some truth to the cliche.
Dozens wrote in about their old appliances — everything from refrigerators built in the 40s to washers and dryers handed down so many times who knows how old they are to a 30-year-old hair dryer still good as new. We were, no pun intended, blown away.
While we couldn’t share every story on these pages, we’ve picked a few that stood out. Please enjoy, but our “green” conscience compels us to tell you that you could be saving money and the environment by buying a new energy-efficient model. Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use half as much energy as refrigerators manufactured before 1993, and if your washer is more than 10 years old, you’re paying about $145 more each year to operate it versus an Energy Star-qualified washer.
Still, some things can’t be replaced, like the stories and memories tied to some of these “workhorse” appliances.
Gary Black of Bradford
Wringer washing machine — 1955
Copper-clad cookstove — 1926
Black, a retired English and vocal music teacher, uses his wringer washer regularly and his coal-burning cookstove a little less so.
“It does a great job at washing. It’s kind of fun to use, actually,” says Black, who notes that he might not feel that way if he had to wash clothes for a big family. The washer was made in Peoria by the Altorfer Bros. Company.
The copper-clad cookstove, made in St. Louis, was had in a trade with a friend. “You can turn out a pretty good meal on it. You just have to be attentive.”
Black recently put it to use the Sunday before Christmas when the power went out.
“I was asked by a friend if I would cook dinner for her family who had arrived from out-of-town. I cooked for nine people on the stove, not only using coal as the fuel but candles and kerosene to see by. My house was built in 1897 so it seemed like cooking on the stove was truly a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ moment.”
Black says he was lucky to have a great aunt who helped him learn the art of firing up and using the stove, which can be somewhat tricky.
Still, Black wouldn’t trade it. “I made a good trade. I did.”
Emily Jean Johnson of Peoria
The Juice King — 1950s
“The Juice King was given to me as a wedding gift in April of 1951. It was put to work soon after returning home from our Florida/Cuba honeymoon. Bringing with us a huge bag of Valencia oranges to share with family/friends and to squeeze the juice for our breakfasts.
“Starting with our first born, we purchased oranges for juice since frozen juice was not readily accessible. As the three children grew older, we had an abundance of assistance in using the Juice King, as it was such fun for them in pulling up the handle and checking how much juice it produced.
“We’ve been told that the Juice King is even on display in the Missouri Historical Museum in St. Louis, a section featuring items from the 50s!”
Ella Maxwell of Washington
Gillette Promax compact hair dryer — 1970s
Maxwell got her Gillette Promax compact hair dryer “as a going away to college gift from my friends. I can’t believe it has lasted through college, single life and now a family of four.”
Nancy Saville of Lacon
Hardwick double oven gas stove — 1960s
“This is my Hardwick avocado green double oven gas stove circa 1960s. We purchased it after the ‘I won’t go through this again’ storm that left us without power for several days in mid-winter with two pre-schoolers. We lived on a farm and no power meant not only no heat, but no water because the pump needed electricity. We could go to town (seven miles) to get jugs filled, but couldn’t transport electricity.
“I called around for a stove that needed NO electricity to operate and drove into Peoria to Kitchen Trends and brought it home in the pickup truck. It has seen my family through many cold days by heating us, our food and a few piglets who were foolish enough to pick the coldest days and nights to be born.
“I now live in town, but still wouldn’t part with it. The top oven is great. We use it every day. My husband loves it for curing his concrete ornament molds, melting candle wax — and cooking. Our stove and the fact that our home is a mini museum of old appliances and cooking items means we are not left cold or hungry as many are because of a dependence on electricity.”
Shirley Adams of Metamora
International Harvester refrigerator — 1940s
“This International Harvester refrigerator has been purring like a kitten for nearly 60 years. In 1949, I married my late husband and we purchased this refrigerator from the IH dealership in our hometown of Metamora. I was the bookkeeper for Metamora Implement Company who was the dealer. Today, the refrigerator is running in the basement, where I keep a supply of cold beverages. In the summer, extra vegetables and fruits like watermelon also can be found in the two crispers.
“This refrigerator features foldaway shelves, still bright, a frozen food stowaway and a super storage pantry-bin at the bottom. The only time it has been unplugged was when we moved across town to a different residence.
"The only wear is around the rubber door seal that causes more frequent defrosting especially in the summertime."
Jennifer Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.