Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Heirloom design

Last week as I feverishly prepared for my 4 day weekend of bowhunting bliss at camp, our electric range 'took the dirt nap' as they say. Repair costs were prohibitive and it was getting a bit cold for the Coleman stove on the patio while repairs were scheduled and completed, so we headed to the appliance store and purchased a new range. About the same time I read Sharon Bloyd Peshkin's article,"Built to Trash", and the very next morning the enamel coffee pot was simmering on the 1924 Detroit Jewel stove at deer camp as we prepared to head out to the blind. It really drove home the point of her article.

Many of you might know Sharon as an accomplished sea kayaker from the Chicago area. Others may know her as SecuriteSharon from her timely radio call that kept the Raspberry Island tour at this years Inland Sea Kayak Symposium from being run over by the Island Queen. The events of the prior week really made her article resonate with me, especially when I was cooking supper on the Jewel up at camp.

That stove has been in operation since my dad was born in 1924. Some repairs have been needed but they have been simple things like welding or cleaning out a gas jet rather than replacing an overpriced computer clock/timer/temperature module. Propane flows in, goes through the gas jets, and burns. Very simple and it still looks pretty damn elegant. The cookware at Reefer Creek has a pedigree as well. I have a couple pieces of my grandmothers Griswold cast iron cookware that has been used pretty regularly since the depression. The GurneyGranny donated her grandmothers cast aluminum pots, which grandma received a wedding gift in 1934, items that also have been in regular use for decades. There is nothing hanging from the ceiling storage area that ends in the suffix -lon. No Calphalon, Teflon, or any other trendy -lon is present. I don't think anyone that has dined up there would say that the quality of food has suffered much from using this 'antique' apparatus. We make soup with no crock pot, bread with no bread maker, salad without a salad shooter, and deep fry stuff with no Presto Fry Daddy.

Sharon's article pretty much has it covered and President Obama's comment to the Chinese that we can't continue to be the worlds consumer dumping ground of last resort is a great riff on the theme that she explains so well. If our economy continues to be dependent on the holiday shopping season with its Calphalon pans, salad shooters, Tickle Me Elmo dolls, and (my favorite) the singing fish mount, we are in some deep shit. Not everyone can afford to buy the good stuff, but my Filson hat, Pendleton shirts, and Irish Setter boots have lasted me literally for decades and are a huge bargain in the long run. Some of my friendly fashionista friends say that it all should be sent to the Goodwill or burned, but its all functional, in excellent repair, and still very stylish after some fairly abusive usage. Kind of like our beloved Detroit Jewel stove. Do what you need to do over the holiday season but keep the idea of heirloom design in the back of your mind. Everyone will be better off for it in the long run. No1 son heisted the Venn diagram, below, from CETMA in Portland and I heisted it from him. Heirloom design in a simple and elegant nutshell.

1 comment:

bpfamily said...

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Dave. Camping, expeditioning and other outdoor pursuits drive home the benefits of heirloom design. Your post was a great illustration of that.