Tag Archives: gaffers and sattler

Rack to the Future

I was standing in the kitchen this morning loading my dishwasher when it came to me. Like a bolt of lightning. A visitation from cherubim. An Annunciation.

“You have the oldest working dishwasher in the world.”

Just like that. The voice resounded and shook, a subterranean train pulling into the crumbling, elevated station of my brain. As I thought it, moreover, I knew that–unlike so many other of my fantastical and hyperbolic thoughts–it was true. The voice was speaking the Gospel. Of appliances, at any rate. I had finally, finally excelled at something.

We have the oldest working dishwasher. In. The. World.


I know. I’ve remarked upon our old appliances before. But I don’t think I really stopped to acknowledge the utterly antediluvian state  of this one in particular.

It’s made by Gaffers and Sattler. Notice there’s no link to their website. That’s because they don’t exist anymore. And they didn’t go out of business a year ago, folks. Try forty-three. Forty-three years ago. Or that’s when, according to this quite interesting and totally random website, they were subsumed by Magic Chef. (Who was acquired by Maytag in 1986). So this dishwasher is at least 43 years old. But it could be more. Much more. I’m guessing, by the graphics in its owners manual, (which, thanks to the OCD of the previous owner of this house, we still have), that it came out in the fifties.


At which point, of course, it represented the apex of domestic accomplishment. Or so it seems:


And look at these fingernails. They scream fifties!


The G&S uses — wait for it — sixteen gallons of water per wash. If, that is, you’re using the “Hygienic Super Wash,” (otherwise known as “the only one that has any effect.”) My dad recently bought a Bosch dishwasher. I think it was $1500. It uses four gallons of water per wash. It “likes” food to be encrusted on the plates. This makes it work better. It holds the silverware in gentle plastic fingers, caressing each fork and spoon individually with filtered, temperature-controlled, ultrasonic jets. It hums at a decibel level so low it is indiscernible to the dog. Who, to be fair, died several years back. My dad’s dog, that is. Still.

Our dog is not dead. And she hears our dishwasher just fine. As does the dog fourteen houses down. And his owners. And the dog fourteen houses down from them. The G&S is so loud it can be heard back in the fifties, by the man who first designed it. Who is also dead. Even so…

All I know is, I want a Bosch. I want to “put my home in the modern picture.” Hell, I want fingernails like the lady’s in the manual. But I don’t have any of it. Certainly not the nails. And with the amount of time I spend scraping ossified, super-hygienically heated food from my “clean” dinner plates, I’m not gonna have them any time soon.

R.I.P. Methusala

We went through a phase a couple of years ago where we were against buying new things. Aside from groceries, of course. And gasoline. And toothbrushes. OK, there were many exceptions. But for the most part, when used would do, used was what we bought. It was partly a green thing, partly a money (the “other green”) thing, and partly a genuine belief that old is (often) better.

Then our vacuum cleaner broke, and Mike said he would look for a second-hand replacement.

“Uh, OK,” I said, hesitantly.

“OK” was shorthand, of course, for “OK, if you can find a 2008 Miele, or the barely used Oreck of a documentary filmmaker moving to Toronto.” I said that last part telepathically.

Later that day he showed up with this:

“Goodness!” I sang, shrilly. “What’s thi-is?” I didn’t know what else to say. An Electrolux cannister vacuum? Circa 1910? (OK, maybe later, but come on, look at that plug!) What the — !

My husband looked at me quizzically. “What’s the problem?”

“Um, did you buy this in an antique store?”

“Craig’s List. I found an old man –”


“– who sells vacuum cleaners,” he continued, giving me the fisheye. “They’re refurbished. You said you wanted to reduce your footprint.”

Refurbished? Rescusciated, was more like it. If there was an old age home for appliances somewhere, this thing was its original tenant.

“But honey –”

My husband raised one eyebrow at me. “It works great.”

I knew I was beaten. Thoroughly. Even if I had been able to change his mind, old men on Craig’s List have a fairly unforgiving return policy.

In the end, it worked pretty well. Yes, there were issues. It vented air out of its back end — at gale force. A door on it popped open — randomly and often — causing the entire thing to shut off and me to use language more colorful than appropriate. The plug fell out of outlets at the gentlest tug, so that nearly any time you moved from one spot to anther you lost power.

I’ll be frank. I had a love/hate relationship with the thing. Still, it worked well enough for long enough that my husband was proven right. I even came to be somewhat fond of its quirks.

So it is with (little or) no joy that I say: it finally died. Today. Its little compartment door flapped open and shut — as if in gasps — and it quit.

It had a long life. I shouldn’t grieve. I’m not. It’s just, the irony of it is, we finally live in a house where that vacuum really fit in. A home dedicated entirely to appliances of its ilk. A Museum of Jurassic Appliances, as it were, where it could have lived long, happily, and totteringly in the estimable company of its century-old peers. Like:

Our Gaffers and Sattler dishwasher, and:

Our Caloric (complete with attempted-graffiti-paint-over on side) Range.

How beautiful they all would have looked, clustered together of an evening, their 50’s-era tones glinting in the fluorescent light, clumsy frames momentarily relaxed, laughing together as they compared energy inefficiency, outdated fonts and infuriatingly cryptic buttons.

Alas it is not to be. The two survivors will have to struggle on alone.

R.I.P Methusala. Oh, and if you need me? I’ll be at Best Buy.