September 1, 2007
Hopedale History
No. 90
Ahead of His Time

  I’ve been thinking for months that the time was very near when I could say that the Hopedale Historical Commission had signed with a contractor to renovate the Little Red Shop. It now looks like that will happen next week. I’ll keep you informed as the work progresses, and I expect to be putting pictures of the job on my Hopedale website.

  I’ve added several new pictures to the Hopedale in August page during the past week. The high school cupola has been removed. Click here to see pictures of it on the ground. I have a few photos on the Hopedale in September page and expect to add more during the month.

  Some of you may have taken a look at the “mystery device” made by the Dutcher Temple Company that I have on the Hopedale history website. If so, and you’d like to see what it is, click here.  If you haven’t looked at it yet and want to try to figure it out before looking at the answer, click here. (Hint: it has nothing to do with the textile items produced by Dutcher. Modern versions of the machine can be found in almost all homes and offices today.)                           

  There’s nothing unusual about having a home intercom system, a cooler you can take along in your car, or a battery-operated car that your kids can ride in. These and several other items, however, were almost unknown in the 1940s, but they could be found at the Sanderson home on Hopedale Street, at the corner of Freedom. You can read the story below, or click here for a version of the story that includes pictures.  

                                                                Hopedale’s Traveling Icebox
                                                                       By Lillian D. Archibald

  An automobile refrigerator of his own design is the latest home invention of Kenneth E. Sanderson, an electronic technician, of 13 Hopedale Street, Hopedale.

  It’s another small triumph for Sanderson, who is well known in Hopedale for novel ideas which work.

  A few years ago he built a home intercommunications system. People ringing his doorbell were startled by a voice and no presence. “This is Kenneth Sanderson. Who is it, please?”

  His backyard pool, complete with fountain and red mill, isn’t working at the moment, but in previous summers has delighted passers-by. A half-size jeep he built for a six year old has drawn crowds of envious playmates.  

  Like most of Sanderson’s gadgets, the refrigerator was the product of necessity. The family auto lacks a trunk or baggage compartment. When Sanderson, his wife, and three children, Kaye, 10, Wayne, 6, and Arthur, 2, went on a picnic there was no space left in the car for lunches, bathing suits and other equipment.

  Then too, Mrs. Sanderson pointed out, “We couldn’t keep baby’s milk without refrigeration.”

   The novel refrigerator was made from an old icebox and a metal utility closet, which Sanderson transformed into its present form in three evenings. Standing five feet high, the cabinet is 14 inches wide and 10 inches deep.

  Maximum capacity is three quarts of milk, three small bottles of tonic, a pint jar of sandwich filling, celery and butter. In the hottest weather, a 10-cent piece of ice will keep for two days. For short trips, the Sandersons fill it with two or three trays of ice cubes.

  “You should see our old ice box,” Mrs. Sanderson says. “There’s nothing left but the shell.”

  An old-fashioned bacon tin was installed as a tray to hold ice in the insulated second compartment. The tray conducts cold from the ice into the lower section where milk and other perishables are kept. Tubing, salvaged from an old oil burner, runs from the ice compartment to the running board, providing drainage.

  The cabinet fits tightly to the outside of the car, secured at the top by an arrangement of turnbuckles and hooks. The hooks are parts of a discarded tire chain.

  “The cabinet is really rattleproof,” says Sanderson. “It projects six inches above the roof and five inches over the running board. We have to allow for this in driving.

  “Anyway, we never have to be afraid of hitting pedestrians on the road,” Sanderson laughs. “They all stop to look as we go by. Often, when we pass by a gang of workmen on a road, one will nudge another and they’ll all stop and stare at the cabinet.”

  The house intercommunications system, connecting to the outer cellar, kitchen, front door and upstairs hall, operates from the radio room. This room was extended out from the cellar as a radio repair workshop. Mrs.
Sanderson also knits there.

  “The system was really a necessity for us down here,” explained Sanderson. “Before I built it, my wife either had to stay on the first floor or continuously run up and downstairs to see if the children were all right. Now we simply turn on the switch to see if the baby is crying or the children are in trouble.”

  The house has thermostatically controlled oil heat from three range size furnaces installed in the coal furnace by Sanderson. The oil drums feed a small thermostatically controlled oil burner which keeps the radio room at an even temperature.

  “With Kenneth being handy like that, we have a number of extra conveniences,” Mrs. Sanderson commented.

  Take her portable electric sewing machine for example. “My old foot treadle machine was very temperamental, and one day while I was stitching something that simply had to be finished that day, it acted up. I was so annoyed that I just shoved my feet right through the treadle, and said to Kenneth, “There, now I haven’t any sewing machine. He took it apart and made a portable electric machine for me.”

   Starting with an ancient radio console, which he cut down, Sanderson built a record changing phonograph from parts of an old spring wound Victrola, an automobile heater, and an electric train transformer. “It has a better tone
than one of the expensive models that Kenneth had here to repair,” Mrs. Sanderson declared proudly.

  Wayne’s jeep, now nearly demolished, was once the wonder of the neighborhood. Except for the wheels, which came from a cart found in a junk yard, Sanderson built the whole thing in perfect half scale. Other than a motor, the jeep has all the features of the Army model, including electric lights, painted stars, and brakes.

  Sanderson’s newest project is a fire truck to run on batteries. However, the children can’t wait for it to be finished and are already playing with it the backyard. No newspaper name or date on clipping, but probably Worcester Sunday Telegram in 1947. I’m basing that year on the age of Wayne Sanderson being given as six. He was a classmate of mine and we were born in 1941.

  PS  –  Jim Woolhiser told me recently that Sanderson also had a tv remote control that he had made in the fifties.    

Recent deaths:

Richard C. Gabrielson, 51, Milford. August 10, 2007.Barbara A. (Rawson) Hoglund, 83, West Boylston, August 10, 2007.Paula Stone-Hensel, 53, Hernando, Florida, August 14, 2007.Dana L. Usher, 57, Milford, August 25, 2007. HHS 1970.Frank F. Care, Jr., 79, Hyannis, August 29, 2007.Robert W. “Bud” Elliott, 83, August 29 2007.

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