Requiem for a dishwasher

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Edith, at home, showing off her WPS School Committee chair, a gift presented to her by her colleagues after her stint on the Worcester School Committee. All departing school committee members get this handsome chair with the WPS insignia on the back – a thank you gift for their service to the community.💮🌸🐱 pic: R.T.

By Edith Morgan

After nearly 40 years of faithful, trouble-free service, it finally gave up the ghost. My automatic dishwasher. It was a birthday gift from my friends. I had resisted getting one, as it seemed unnecessary for one person, and wasteful … But over the years, what with foster children, parties and meetings, it proved equal to the task of cleaning and sterilizing all those dishes, and we could avoid paper and plastic – and be a bit more classy.

Recently, the dishwasher would not go on – just stood there, mute and unmoving. And replacing it was not so easy, as it was a portable and apparently nowadays dishwashers are all housed under the counter, where the kitchen sink is housed. But my home is vintage 1890, and the kitchen is still basically like one of the old farm kitchens. We located two of the old portable models at a warehouse – one black and one white.

In the old days, the seller also delivered and installed, and serviced their products. Now all is farmed out to subcontractors, each of whom seems to be able to do just one task.

When my machine was installed, I did not want it rolling about in the kitchen and emptying into the sink, so a friend worked out a system which hooked it up permanently to a hot water line from the basement, close to the water heater, and ran a hose into the basement laundry room to empty out into the old stone set-tubs in the laundry room. It was a great arrangement: no flooded sink in the kitchen , no tying up the water supplying the kitchen sink – and 40 years of worry-free use.

My old dishwasher also had a wonderful butcher board top, almost two inches thick, REAL wood!!! And I tried what I could to save it – even had an electrician come out (expensive!!) to diagnose the trouble, a last ditch attempt to save it. It seems the main switch had worn out or broken, and the age of the model was so great that no parts were available. Years ago, of course, I would have asked one of the members of our independent Inventors’ Group to come and create a new part – but nowadays we do not bother.

So, I have my new dishwasher – looks similar, but the top is a simulated, thin plastic, and it seem lighter. I doubt it will last a worry-free 40 years, but at age 88, I will probably be gone before it gives out! But I will miss my old washer, and feel bad that it will be dismantled for parts in some trash heap or landfill.