The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tom Lavis

October 16, 2011

Tom Lavis | Shedding light on basement freezers

My wife started work earlier than usual the other day and it wasn’t long after she left that I received a telephone call.

In her haste to get out the door before sunrise, she forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner.

“Go to the basement and take out steaks for supper,” she said.

No problem.

We have a chest freezer tucked into a dark corner of the basement. We placed it there in order to keep it out of the way of more important things such as my woodworking tools.

Saying it is an unfinished basement is an exaggeration, but we started calling it that after the kids graduated from college.

The cellar is a place where things are stored when there is no room in the garage or shed.

Oops, sorry, unfinished basement.

I believe it was my youngest son who scolded me for calling the space a cellar.

I called it a cellar because where I came from, anything with concrete block walls, an uneven concrete floor and a place bats would find to their liking is called a cellar.

That’s what the ground floor looked like when we bought the house 40 years ago.

The home was once heated by a coal-fired furnace, complete with a handy (dirt floor) coal bin.

Through the years, I leveled the concrete floor, coated the walls with waterproof paint and replaced a coal chute door with a small window.

That’s the corner where we put the freezer.

I quickly went to the basement to retrieve two Delmonico steaks before I had to leave for work.

I opened the lid on the freezer and discovered something I had never noticed.

There was no light.

The window, where a coal-chute door was once positioned, remained black because it was still dark outside.

As I rooted around the top layer of frozen food, I pushed around tubes of hamburger until I came to a mound of about a dozen clear freezer bags.

Without a light, I found it difficult to determine what each freezer bag contained.

“Why is there no light in a freezer?” I asked myself.

I think I even said it out loud along with a few other choice words as I held up bags to the dark window.

I had to get to work myself and was getting “flustrated.”

Flustrated was a word my father used when he got flustered and frustrated at the same time.

I was so flustrated that I even held a few bags up to my nose and sniffed them as if I could find the steaks that way.

I grabbed a bag that felt as if it contained steaks and placed it on a table in the cool basement to allow the steaks to thaw until my wife got home.

As I drove to work, I couldn’t get the idea of not having a light in the freezer out of my mind.

I know my brother’s side-by-side refrigerator has a light in the freezer compartment because I once placed a gallon of milk on the wrong side and ended up with a giant milk-sicle.

Our kitchen refrigerator doesn’t have a light in the top freezer.

I know this because when I sneak into the kitchen at night to sample chocolate-chip ice cream, I have to open the fridge to see.

I think each freezer deserves a light.

I suppose companies do not put a light in the freezer because most people don’t grab a leftover frozen chicken leg for a midnight snack.

I know someone is going to tell me that light produces heat and that is counterproductive to a freezer’s job. But what would a few seconds of light hurt?

If your freezer does have a light, you must have bought a high-end model and live in a house with a finished basement.

When I got home that night, I was hankering for a tasty Delmonico steak.

Instead, I found my wife slaving over a hot telephone as she was ordering a pizza for dinner.

I  had thawed out a bag of green beans instead of steaks.

Looks like I’ll be getting a flashlight for Christmas.

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Tom Lavis

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