“Is your refrigerator running?”
Harry and Jean Roberts have kept
their Westinghouse refrigerator
running throughout their 63-year
marriage. (Press photo by Ken
Back in the day, it was great fun for telephone pranksters to ask unsuspecting friends or even strangers on the other end of the line with the query. (The answer – It is? Well, you’d better catch it!)
A prankster calling Harry and Jean Roberts Oregon home might get the answer that their refrigerator is indeed running – and has been since they got it – in 1946.
The Westinghouse refrigerator, was offered to Jean at a deep discount as an engagement present from her employer, Westinghouse Supply, where she was an office worker.
“It was a beautiful 1946 model, being replaced by a new model coming out,” she said. “They knew I was getting married the following year, so they offered the refrigerator to me at a good price.
“Harry was in the Navy, so I took the refrigerator to my parents’ house and plugged it in in the spare bedroom,” she said.
When the couple was married Oct. 11, 1947, they took it to their home and used it for many years. “As our family grew, we needed a bigger model, so we bought an Amana,” Jean said, adding that the trusty Westinghouse model was moved to the summer kitchen.
It now sits in the couple’s garage, adorned with a small picture of Jesus. An American flag hangs behind it – a
testament that the long-running appliance was made in America, Harry points out.
Over the years, it held a bounty of vegetables from the family garden; countless fish caught on Harry’s many fishing trips, and a six-pack of beer or two.
A small plug in the side of the appliance caps the hole that once accommodated a beer tap. “We went away for our anniversary, and when we came back, our son had drilled a hole in it,” Jean said.
Though it has received a fresh coat of paint, the refrigerator still boasts all its original parts, except for the light bulb. “We’ve never had a service call for it,” Harry said. “It still has the original door gasket.
“And listen to how quiet it runs,” he said.
As the couple approaches their 63rd wedding anniversary on Oct. 11, Jean reflects on the key to longevity – perhaps both for their marriage and for the refrigerator that predates their vows.
“You have to tend to it very carefully, with lots of tender loving care,” she said.