The Future That Never Happened; Part 3

Precisely 50 years ago, the folks at Frigidaire looked forward to our time and envisioned the typical housewife in a space like this:

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Very shiny. Very chrome-y. Very devoid-of-anything-remotely-organic-y. But oh, the vivid colors.

I’m not sure I’d want to cook a meal here, but I’d probably be comfortable having my spleen operated on. Looks very… sterile.

This is a common element of almost all futuristic glimpses envisioned in the 1940s and 50s. I guess it was due in part to the fact that to that generation, living amidst natural materials was “primitive.” After all, it is what people had been forced to use for thousands of years. “Surely in this dawning golden age of acrylics and synthetic fibers, those old materials will be replaced by space-age ones,” they must have surmised. After all, wasn’t the sage career advice of the tipster in the movie The Graduate the single word: “Plastics.”

In the ’50s, faith in science’s ability to improve everything was still very much alive.

Well, as I look around me here in my 21st Century home study, I see a wool rug, a leather chair, wooden floor and bookshelves, granite, marble and…what is that…oh yes, dog hair. (Can you imagine a dog being allowed into the space pictured above? Maybe a robot dog.)

What the futurists of the past didn’t factor in is how deeply the human soul seems to need and want natural materials around. A couple of days trapped in an environment of acrylic, vinyl and plastic and we start to get an itch in the medulla oblongata. We crave the sight and feel of wood and leather, the warp and woof of fabrics shorn from living animals and plants.

I would wager that 1,000 years from now, if God hasn’t brought the curtain down on this act and begun the next one, people will still fill their environments with the same materials Abraham used in his tent.

As for some of the details in the picture above. . .

Just what is R2D2 cooking up here?

An elephant heart? A meat accordion? Jabba the Hutt’s fist?

As for our homemaker, it’s comforting to know that in this future of ours, tea-length dresses, wasp waists, and heels are still standard-issue for housework. As for her friend, the last time Betty showed her what she was cooking, something leaped out of the pot and attached itself to her face, so she’s wary.

No surprises this time. It’s just polymer gravy for the buckminster fullerene synthetic rump roast.

Then there is the crude-but-sweet knife rack her son made the other day in Carbon Fiber Composites Shop class.

Finally, it’s comforting to know that even in the atomic era, we still find a place in the space-age kitchen for the Crock Pot.

Or is it a Wok Pot? A Crock Wok? A Wokky Crocky?

{image courtesy of}