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Take My Electric Range--Please

July 18, 1994|JACK SMITH

It is disheartening to find that something you have used and valued for nearly half a century is unwanted by anyone else.

My wife can't give away her old electric range. She bought it 45 years ago when we lived in Venice, on the canal. It has served her faithfully all those years. She didn't need a new one, but she wanted a new one because she likes new things.

I pointed out to her that our marriage was 55 years old, and it was still working. Wasn't it? She didn't answer.

The new range came the other day and the old one was dumped on the patio, where it remains, a bulky impediment to any social life.

First my wife called the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army said it did not take electrical appliances. My wife called Goodwill. They said they did not take large appliances. She called St. Vincent de Paul. They said fine, they would pick up the range late Friday.

We arranged to be home Friday afternoon, but they didn't come. The next day my wife called them. They said, sorry, we had been at the bottom of the list and they had run out of time. They promised to pick up the range first thing the following Friday. No show.

Meanwhile, she has tried to give it to others. She called two recent brides, but neither wanted it. Who wants to start a marriage with leftovers?

Meanwhile, there's my Belmont lantern. It's the large, ornate lantern that used to hang in the Romanesque campanile at Belmont High School, my alma mater. When that structure was foolishly torn down several years ago, toward making the school look more like a prison, the principal called and asked me if I wanted it. I said yes and it has lain hidden among the debris in our garage ever since.

My wife dragged it out into the light the other day and we hope to have it mounted before my class reunion on July 30. By the way, that will be my 60th high school graduation reunion. My wife recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of her graduation from Washington grammar school in East Bakersfield. Many readers assumed it was her high school reunion, thus making her older than she is.

A reader with a long memory has questioned my recollection of seeing my wife for the first time in the porch light of her house in East Bakersfield. She was a blind date. That reader recalls a column of long ago in which I wrote that I first saw my wife-to-be in the Kern County High School Library.

He is right. I was skeptical of a blind date, so I had gone around to the library, where she worked, to have a preview. I saw her working at the desk through an open bookshelf. She looked OK. I next saw her in the porch light.

Meanwhile, we have received good news, sort of. Recently I wrote that my wife was angry 23 years ago when I gave away two old Army surplus oak and glass bookcases she had painstakingly restored after they had been damaged in an earthquake.

I have received a letter from Ralph L. Walter, restoration architect, the then-young man who picked them up at our door. He writes: "Please tell Mrs. Smith that there is good news. The bookcases have remained in my mother's garage in Culver City since I went away to college in the fall of 1971. They have sat there ever since, awaiting refinishing, gathering dust, but without further earthquake damage, and you are most certainly welcome to have them back."

And therein lies a moral dilemma. Are we obliged to take the bookcases back? I'm sure they would no longer fit into our household scheme. We have managed all these years without them. In fact, I have an idea they would soon be packed away in our garage, to gather more dust.

If the Salvation Army, Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul don't want perfectly good electric ranges, I'm sure they wouldn't take old Army surplus bookcases.

Meanwhile, I wonder how many other objects we have in our house that we don't need. The other day when I pulled a piece of paper from the roll in my bathroom, I was astonished to hear "As Time Goes By."

It sounded like a little music box. On investigation, I found out that when my wife and our grandson, Trevor, went shopping, he discovered this little music box that you affix to your toilet paper roll and it plays "As Time Goes By" when you turn the roll. Trevor insisted they buy it for me.

Before long I may have the only garage that plays "As Time Goes By."

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