Friday, February 20, 2015

Good Country Kitchen

How can one enter the Andalusia kitchen and not picture Mrs. Freeman standing there, leaning, one elbow on top of the refrigerator?

The refrigerator is to your right as you enter the “Good Country” kitchen, and is partially obscured by the door. An ol’ timey fridge it is, with odd and large handles, and a flashback of a silver martini set placed on top.

We all know the story of how that Hotpoint appliance was purchased with General Electric (Playhouse) money. A bright and humming gift for Regina, it must have had been defrosted at least once by the time “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” aired, corrupted ending and all.

At that point, only 80% of Americans owned a fridge, so the Hotpoint was quite the gift, especially during what Look Magazine deemed The Protein Age. In 1956, a refrigerator represented the American Dream of abundance and plenty.

But there’s more to life than raw steaks and hamburger meat. I wonder if Flannery kept medicine in that Hotpoint. If Regina placed tomato aspic next to the jar of Sanka. If Sanford House leftovers were stored in bright Pyrex containers.

When I step into that kitchen, I can’t help but feel transported in time to a warm and ordinary midweek morning. Opalesque bubbles dissolve in the sink. The edges of a church bulletin that is pinned to the fridge door lift every few seconds, courtesy of a rickety oscillating fan. That the fan blades whir, and radio voices crackle, and distant peacock shrieks pierce through the everyday tedium are but daylife details Flannery either considers or ignores as she places a cup in the sink and walks, slowly, back to her room.

-- Katheryn Krotzer Laborde is the author of Do Not Open: The Discarded Refrigerators of Post-Katrina New Orleans (McFarland, 2010) and other works of prose. She will read her creative nonfiction pieces “Mourning Flannery” and “Hazel Motes is Not Black” at the final installment of Andalusia Farm’s 2015 February Four series, February 22.

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