The story begins on a cold winter day in 1977. Actually, I have no idea about the actual date or the weather, but I’m thinking 1977 is pretty close.
We had recently visited my Uncle Roy and his family in a suburb of Chicago (Skokie, IL). It was there that we witnessed the miracle of the microwave oven. My Aunt Carol blew us away by microwaving hot dogs in about a minute. It was cool and more than a novelty. The speed was amazing and all you have to do is look in any/every kitchen in America today and you’ll see that the microwave oven was not a gimmick. It was/is a valued kitchen appliance that is here to stay.
At some point after visiting Uncle Roy my Dad decided that we also had to have a microwave oven. We NEEDED hot dogs cooked and served within 60 seconds.It’s actually more likely that we wanted to quickly warm up leftovers, but for the sake of this writing… it was hot dogs!
So we get our microwave oven and life is good. We’re just a happy food nuking family and things couldn’t be better. Fast, hot food with the turn of the timer was awesome! Awesome, until the day the knob broke. Then our happy microwaving life came to a screeching halt.
I don’t actually recall the mood in the house, but I’m sure it wasn’t upbeat. What? The microwave is down? Are we buying a new one? When is the repairman getting here? I’m hungry!
Then came the death blow… A replacement knob was about $5 and my Dad was not paying it. He felt $5 was too expensive and set out to find a suitable replacement. Who knew this would become a lifelong pursuit? Who knew this would lead to multiple containers of knobs stored in a temperature controlled vault? Nobody!
Back on the ranch Dad grabbed a Vise Grip pliers out of the toolbox and we were back to microwaving our food. Well, at least for the foreseeable future. We were using the pliers to turn the timer shaft and it was working! Everything was back normal… well, as normal as life can be in a knob collecting household.
So things are humming along until death blow #2… the mechanical timer craps out. Now the microwave is officially dead. We eventually purchased a new microwave and that was the last of the microwave debacle. Who knew owning a microwave oven would be the catalyst for the rise and fall of the Fjelstad Family?
Today my Dad is still collecting knobs and I have to say he’s bailed me out on quite a few occasions. Who knew the future would be controlled by knobs? My Dad did, that’s who. He saw the future and prepared for the potential of a knobless world. He cannibalized the knobs off of every appliance he ever owned that died. Free stuff at a garage sale? He took it all and added any/all knobs to the collection. A radio for sale for $.25 with several large, cool knobs? SOLD!
His commitment to knobs knows no bounds. About a year ago on a Sunday afternoon I dropped by my parent’s house. I didn’t call ahead, the visit wasn’t planned days ahead of time… I just popped in. While we were watching football I mentioned to my Dad that I needed a knob. I described what I was looking for and you’ll never guess what he did? He pulled three knobs out of his pocket, grabbed a silver one that looked like it came from a stereo receiver and handed it to me. “Try this one” he said. Who the hell carries three knobs in their pocket on a Sunday afternoon? My Dad, that’s who.