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Frigidaire: 1941

Frigidaire: 1941

July 1941. "Detroit, Michigan. Buying a refrigerator at the Crowley-Milner department store." Here we see Mr. Salesman explaining the ice maker, which employs a "tray." Large-format negative by Arthur S. Siegel. View full size.


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Ice box?

I had a Kelvinator with the same sized 'freezer'. Had to knife my way into it once a month.

"What Can I Do

to put you into this refrigerator?"

Vanilla ice cream

The earliest of my grandmother's refrigerators I can remember had the freezer box this size. Whenever I was visiting, there would always be a half gallon box of vanilla ice cream, and a can of Hershey's syrup in the cupboard. She got upgraded freezing facilities over the years, but no matter how old I got, whenever I was visiting, there would be the vanilla ice cream and can of Hershey's syrup, all the way to the last time I went there before she passed away, when I was 29.

Buttons & Bows

Although the song Buttons & Bows wasn't published until 1947, I couldn't help noticing the woman's dress is a Buttons & Bows pattern. Love it!

A room full of

refrigeration units is cooled by an old-fashioned electric fan!


The ice trays, two pints of ice cream, and next weeks pork chops just about fills that freezer compartment. But this is so much better than the "ice box" of the previous generation. My Great Grandmother had a Norge like the one in the photo, although not until 1947. She had a bad experience with a previous unit which caught fire and she reverted to the old ice box for the duration of WW 2. A neat trick since we lived 5 miles out from the ice house.

Tell Ya What I'm Gonna Do

$127.75 in todays dollars equates to about $1900. Attached photo is a current model Fridge with a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price of $1899. Show em your AARP Card and you can probably get it for around $1600 and if the salesperson is dying to make the deal, he'll waive the delivery charge and take the old one away.

Remember when

My mom made Ice box cakes in that tray,
Mmmmm good

Austere times, tough people

As it was they made do with a single tray of ice cubes at any one time ;-)

And they were the privileged ones, having a power-operated fridge in the first place. I guess others had to chip off their cubes from 50-pound ice blocks.

Six years later...

General Electric came out with a refrigerator similar to the one to the right of the Frigidaire. Somebody bought one, took good care of it for many years, then sold it to a second-hand appliance store. In 1988 I went to that store and bought that 1947 GE fridge. It's still in my kitchen today. It looks great, it works just fine, and it defrosts like a dream. It has four aluminum "fish bone" ice trays and three enameled fruit/veg/meat bins. Yes, I love my refrigerator.

So much to learn

When the Salesman has finished explaining the technicalities of the 'tray', he then will have to move on to expounding on the complexities of the 'bulb' and 'door-switch'. Numbers of comedians here in England worked sketches around the selling of the notion that the 'bulb' really did switch off when the door was shut. Presumably, American comedians also ...

My parents' Frigidaire performed sterling service for decades. It's long gone, but I still have its tray, identical to that in the picture. All aluminium, (as we spell it here ), beautiful mechanically, and solid as a battleship. Who'd retain the ice-cube tray post 'fridge-mortem' today?

Hope it's the Deluxe model

...because in todays dollars that unit would cost you $2000.

My aunt is still using a chest freezer they purchased back in the mid 1950s. Still works like a champ although it would be interesting to put a watt meter on the thing to see how much electricity the thing uses.

Never say Die

We have one in our basement that was there when we moved in in 1982. It is still running perfectly.

How Long Has It Been?

Remember when refrigerator salesmen wore double-breasted suits?

Killing machine

How many children suffocated in these traps?

I confess that I have a functioning 1950s era Westinghouse refrigerator/ice box in my basement but there are no children here.


My parents bought a new Norge refrigerator in the early 1950's that looked very similar to the Norge model pictured. The bottom panel pulled out at an angle and was for "storage" -- not for food. (My mother kept folded up paper bags from the grocery store down there). If you needed to get to the compressor or the motor, it had to be moved out from the wall. On the few occasions we had to call the repairman, that was quite an ordeal as the thing weighed a ton! Another thing I recall was that the freezer had to be "defrosted" every week or two and that was an ordeal.

Refrigerators of that period seemed to never wear out. When we got a new 1960's model (this time a GE), the old Norge went out in the garage for extra food storage. My parents moved when I was in college and they gave the old Norge away because they simply didn't want to move it. It was still running.


127 bucks and change! Grandpa made $42.50 a week at the steel mill and Grandma thought they were rollin' in dough. "We put a dollar a day in the bank," she used to brag.


I don't think the tray or ice making was astounding to them. That's just the freezer compartment; the glass tray under it was for meats.

My parents had one that looked like it that was still going strong 40 years later.

The ideas of what sizes things should be have changed, and today's are not manual defrost (turn off, remove food, leave open and put towels around until the ice falls off the freezer compartment, which otherwise gets smaller and smaller as the ice accumulation gets bigger and bigger).

Better grab it, Ladies.

It might be a few years before you get another chance.

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