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Tuesday
Mar272007

Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)


In the September 13, 1959 edition of the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine Evelyn Zemke wrote an amusing piece about her vision for housewives of the future. Below is an excerpt from the first part of her story.

"Call a service man," my husband always says when one of our appliances refuses to function.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Well, it is. At the very worst, probably only the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and TV would give up one day. But what about the housewife of the future - say of the year 2000, when the electronic era will be at its peak?

I can just picture myself in her place - ready to start another care-free day sitting around reading a science fiction thriller while the gadgets do all the work. Already the electronic brain in my kitchen is busy preparing and serving breakfast.

My husband, arriving at the table exclaims, "Pizza? For breakfast?"

"I pushed the button labeled BACON AND EGGS, but-"

"There's a wire crossed somewhere. Call a service man."

After doing so, I dispose of the garbage in the electronic disposal unit and pile the dishes in the ultra-sonic dishwasher. Then, After pushing the button which starts the electronic vacuum cleaner, I go out to the garage to set the timer for our radar controled lawnmower.

"Ki-yi-yi!" Sounds like Fifi, our pet poodle.

My daughter, standing in the doorway, calls, "Mom! The cleaner is vacuuming Fifi!"

See also:
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)

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Reader Comments (7)

We don't have a button marked "Bacon and Eggs" in the kitchen, but it is possible that a "Roomba" automatic vacuum cleaner might attack the dog.

http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=122" REL="nofollow"> Roomba

http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=757" REL="nofollow"> Roomba Cartoon

March 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterScott Haley

But if I had a wife who served me pizza for breakfast, you wouldn't hear me complaining. I might rewire the button myself.

March 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterScott Haley

One interesting aspect of the C21st is that appliances are so reliable. When I was a child in the 1970s, the TV broke down every few months. When was the last time that happened. And if the microwave breaks, it's probably easier to get a bew one. Unfortunately, for some reason, washing machines seem exempt from this law of nature...

March 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaul M. Cray

this article actually shows some pragmatic prescience. i know that as i surround myself with electronic devices i get a crash course in exactly how many new things can go wrong around me on a daily basis.

April 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpolecat_bastard

Scott, lol on your rewiring for the pizza comment. And Paul, that is so true about the TV's back then and now. When I was a kid in the 60's to mid 70's our sets would have problems in one way or another quite often.Now I have owned only two television sets since 1989 and never had a problem with either of them. As for washing machines, I know a guy who repairs them. Good business. That work helped him purchase a nice Jaguar XJS.

May 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

And suddenly, Skynet became self-aware....
-------

Hmm, we had the same RCA tv from the time I was 3 until I was into my teens. It rocked!

Thank goodness I know enough electronics to be dangerous. Most of the repairs here are to the plumbing, our municipal water (LA) sucks!

February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrandy

Any chance of posting the full article someplace? That'd be awesome!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

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