Finding relics after the storm

Not long ago, I was explaining to my northerner son-in-law all about “deep freezes,” and some of the problems that we southerners occasionally have with them.  “Deep freeze” was not a term he was familiar with. I think I could’ve saved my breath and simply dug out this essay from 2012.  I’m dedicating this website posting to him to further his southern education.


About six weeks ago after Hurricane Isaac came through in 2012, I was able to put my hands on some real artifacts, some history, some family history, some relics of the past. 

That hurricane knocked out our power for about two and a half days.  We had a generator running under the carport with two power cords going into the house.  (It’s an open air carport; don’t ever forget that generators put out dangerous carbon monoxide.)  We don’t ever try to stretch out the generator’s output; all we really want is a couple of fans, a television, and a little power to charge up cell phones.  That’s about it.   Of course, there is one other thing you must do with your generator:  you’ve got to plug it up to your cold units, your refrigerator and your freezer or freezers.


That’s a bit of a problem for us.  Our refrigerator and our two freezers are off in a different direction than where we wanted those two fans and where our TV is.  So we didn’t keep the refrigerator and the freezers constantly on the generator.  We kept the doors closed so the cold air couldn’t escape, and occasionally, especially when we were away from the house, I would lug the generator to a different spot and reposition those extension cords so that one could go toward the refrigerator and the other could go in the opposite direction toward one of the freezers.  When they had time to be charged back up with cold, I would then have to carry the heavy and cumbersome generator (no wheels) and move the cords back to the carport to go back on the fans and TV and, at some point, onto the other freezer.  This was not a hassle-free operation; it was a big hassle!

This got me to thinking about those two freezers and what it was exactly that I was saving in them.  What’s usually on the bottom 50 to 75 percent of a freezer, or as we around here commonly call it, a “deep freeze”?  Most everyone knows the answer to this:  it’s frozen food that you haven’t seen in a decade or more that has become bottom packing so that the food you really want to get to sits on top where you can get to it.  How many of you put a date on your food so that you know the difference between the 2012 food and the food that you didn’t date back in the 1990s?  Be honest now.

I did a good job of keeping our two freezers cold, but I have been complaining about bottom packing our “deep freezes” for as long as some of that food has been in there.  And let me be completely honest about one of those freezers:  the only reason I remember even opening the thing in the last ten years was to see if it was still working!

After all my recent complaining, and after the hurricane cleared out and we got power back, my wife got on this mission to clean them both out.  I should’ve kept my mouth shut because I had to participate—a  lot—in the clean out.  Oh yeah:  those artifacts , those relics that I mentioned up top—they were in the bottom of those two deep freezes.  I found frozen blueberries labeled 1994 (no, I’m not kidding) and boiled peanuts from ????, and cookies that my daughters sold when they were in elementary school.  All that and a whole lot more went into a big deep hole in the ground and was covered o’er with dirt.  It was painful to watch all that food and all the work that went into gathering and preparing the food for freezing go into that hole in the ground.

There were a couple of other relics that I put my hands on that day:  the two deep freezes themselves.  I have never bought a freezer in my life.  Daddy bought an old house back in the 1970s and rented it for a while before deciding he didn’t need to be a landlord.  One of my deep freezers was from that old house; it looks to be a 1960s or 70s model “Kelvinator.”  The other freezer, a smaller one, was given to us by a relative who didn’t have a place for it when she moved once.  I figure it’s from the mid-1980s.

In the previous paragraph I said that I “have never bought” a freezer.  Well, actually, that has changed.  I bought the freezer that I have always wanted:  an upright freezer.  And friends and family tell me, “But you can’t get as much in it!”  And I say, “Exactly!”  And every time I open it, all the food that’s in it is right in front of me.  I can see every bag, every container.  No more bottom packing for me.  We got to use what’s in there before more can go in.  That’s the new rule.  And there’ll be only one freezer to hook a generator to the next time the lights go out.

Oh, and by the way:  Are you in the market for a couple of fine freezers that have never, I mean never, failed to work?  Hey, they’re not shiny and beautiful, but they’ve been doing the job for a long, long, long time.  Plugged in and runnin’ right now.  Sellin’ cheap.  They’ve been keeping food frozen for decades—literally.


2 thoughts on “Finding relics after the storm

  1. Sometimes you learn some interesting facts when you read the news on Facebook. Today, I learned from your post that you have this website that stems from your Lawrence Co press columns days, of which I was an avid reader. So, what a pleasant surprise to find I can read more of your wonderful writings.
    This article in particular hit home a subject that was just discussed at home recently. I thought I would share. My Mommas deep freeze is the same age as me, 47, soon to be 48. It still works as good today as it did brand new. (Knock on wood, as I don’t want to get home today to a dead freezer)
    Last week I was having a discussion with my step sister, who is the same age as my son, 21. She is an animal lover but not the “normal” animal lover. She is an aficionado of the odd animals. Animals like hedgehogs, snakes, poisonous frogs, tortoises. Well, she recently had a tortoise pass. Yes, it died. Died of a respiratory infection. Who knew!! He was a baby tortoise, so he was only about the size of a very small apple. How would you know that was the illness or how it got such a thing, who knows. But that was the vets diagnosis. Yes, you are probably thinking the same thing I was. She took a tortoise to the vet?!?!? I’m not even going to guess at the cost of that visit. But I digress…
    One evening, after a hard day at work, I opened the freezer portion of the refrigerator, and there staring right back at me was the tortoise…the dead tortoise. Well, my first thought was, “oh my lord my momma, in her “lost” state of mind, has put Taelor’s tortoise in the freezer”. This was before I knew of its demise. I soon learned that Taelor had decided that she wanted to keep the shell. I quickly explained to her that 1) the dead tortoise did not belong in the freezer and 2) if she wanted to keep the shell she needed to get the dead animal out of it. I explained to her The best way to do that was put it outside in the woods to let animals eat it thereby only thing remaining would be the shell. Or to boil it out like you would a deer head.
    Thinking she would actually listen to me, I expected the tortoise to no longer be in the freezer. Well, I was partially right, it wasn’t in the refrigerator freezer but instead moved to the deep freeze. Yes, the deep freeze that is as old as I am. So, in my next conversation with her, I explained how things in the “deep freeze” go through levels of aging. The top layer being “fresh”, less than a month old and the bottom, well, it could be 10 years old or 40 yrs old. And, I explained that a year from now when I was searching for blackberries or ice cream, I didn’t want to come upon the dead tortoise!!
    Fast forward a week, the tortoise remains in the deep freeze!!!!

    Hope you enjoyed the story!!
    Signed your former English student
    Amanda Reeves

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