Category Archives: domestic appliance

Aluminum Dinosaurs From Another Ice Age

Up to the late 1970s, refrigerators came with aluminium ice trays that were designed for easy removal of frozen ice pieces (we called these “ice cubes”).  The trays had multiple aluminium partitions which were loosely connected to each other in a detachable assembly.

One yank of the handle was all it took to dislodge the frozen cubes from their hibernation comfort zones.  The clever built-in levers system was not readily apparent to most users (except for the engineering nerds).  But never mind, job done, with ease.

Interestingly, these trays were patented by one E.H. Roberts of General Electric in 1952.

In more modern times, these trays have been replaced by simple and cheaper plastic ones, which require running under a tap to ease out the ice cubes, or one risks twisting the wrist joints in trying to get the cubes out.

A Chop Off The Whole Log

Hope am not putting my head on the chopping block by travestying the old saying. **

In the old days, every home used a round wooden chopping “board” that was made from a cross-cut section of a good-size log.  Thickness varied from about 1” to 3”, depending on the diameter of the board.

On these boards, we cut everything in the kitchen, from vegetables to meat. One could deliver heavy blows with a chopper or cleaver, to cut through thick animal bones that were laid on the them – no problem.

These “old school” style chopping blocks (as I call them) are still much favoured by professional butchers in markets, as they are tough and hardy.

But for home use, they are getting scarce – replaced mostly by those made from plastics, or from pieces of wood, laminated together.

** “a chip off the old block”

Morphy’s Lore Of Ironing

An electric iron  that my aunty (then staying with us) received as a wedding gift, circa 1965, probably whetted our appetite for electrical gadgets over the years that followed.  It bore the label “Morphy-Richards”.

Ah, what a breeze and delight it was to set this red baby gliding over our clothes, taking out the creases with literally no sweat! 

Temperature control allowed us to set “different heat for different pleats” and, stopped Murphy* from making an occasional inopportune triangular-shaped ventilation hole in someone’s prized shirt or skirt. 

Of course, we, the children also loved to play with this new toy as little “kaypohs” helping mummy with the ironing.

Today, Morphy-Richards has vanished from the domestic appliance scene – nobody younger than 40 years would know this name.

*note : reference to Murphy’s Law  

Wind Out Of The Box

Since time immemorial, a table-top electric fan had always been one with a 2- or more- bladed propellor-like element spinning inside some kind of circular cage (for user protection).

Then in 1968, one Australian company began to think out of the box, and launched the first-ever (so it claims) Box Fan, allowing users to be fanned with wind out of a novel boxy enclosure.

When I first encountered it, I was blown away like Donald Trump’s hair on a windy day.  The auto-gyrating front louvre was a refreshing feature, with its ability to swirl air around (360 degrees) over a much larger area, without the need for the fan head to oscillate.

Today, regrettably, Mistral has ceased making box fans.  On the other hand, hordes of other manufacturers  have sprung up to take the wind out of Mistral — box, louvre and all.

Dip & Heat

During my college days, I discovered that many of my fellow students had a vital tool in their survival kits – namely a portable Immersion Heater.

Day and night, the rat race never ceased.  A hard evening’s study, pouring over the day’s lecture notes, and flipping through numerous reference texts exerted a huge drain on energy resources.  The tummy often needed a top-up to prevent flame-out as midnight oil was burned.

Ah hah!  The trusty immersion heater came in handy.  A koleh was filled with water, and the heater dipped in.  Within minutes, there was boiling water, to make instant mee, boil an egg or brew a cuppa to get much needed oomph going.

I have not seen nor used one for at least 3 decades now.  Not sure what happened!

Fire In Their Bellies

Remember that 5kg mass of brass with which our mothers used to iron our clothes ?  The charcoal iron, of course.

These heavy implements required frequent fanning (by hand mostly) to blow away the ashes on the embers, and also topping up of the charcoal pieces in order to maintain the heat.

In those days, married women were a very hardy lot; besides painstakingly taking out the creases and putting a glistening shine on the clothes of their hubbies and children, they were expected to do the same for all other unmarried male members of the extended family staying in the same house.  

Heat, Sweat and Tears — as they toiled day in day out, with no complaints.  The Fire In Their Bellies impassioned these Iron Ladies of our times to serve their families.  Kudos !