Kitchen Remodel, part 5B: the Flair story: the Riveting Denouement!

Samantha, from Bewitched, uses her Frigidaire Flair to make her dinner the "honest" way (sans nose-wiggling).

Samantha, from Bewitched, uses her Frigidaire Flair to make her dinner the “honest” way (sans nose-wiggling).

A brief recap: Amalia and I made a discovery at the junk store in the city: we stumbled upon a vintage Frigidaire Flair stove, in good condition, and after only a few moments’ study, bought it and lugged it home, with intentions to install it into our new kitchen. You can read the entire Part 1 here.

On the way home, I began to wonder how hubby Bryan and contractor Reuben would react . . . πŸ™

Well. You will not be surprised to hear, Gentle Reader, that the guys were not even a little bit delighted to see our well-packed and treasurous* (yes, it’s a word, to wit “worthy of being treasured, prized, or regarded as a treasure”) trailer load. I’ll not paint a complete picture here, but you longsuffering husbands can certainly imagine it, and you sweet and well-intentioned wives can feel gentle pity for my plight.

Picture it: the guys bounded out of the house to help us unload the two windows and door that they had sent us to the city to buy, full of happy energy and verve (“Finally! ‘She’ is back and now we can go to work on that door—“ and then they both came to a dismaying halt: “What on eaaaaartth?”)

Then–to make matters worse–they had to scout around to find the dolly (which is never where it’s easy to find) to help us unload my new treasure: a 350+-pound vintage stove. And two antique walnut cabinets. Oh, and an igloo-shaped doghouse, that I tossed on at the last minute, just for good measure.

Just because there was still a tiny bit of room in the trailer.

πŸ™ Yikes.

Uh-huh. They weren’t pleased. Furthermore, they weren’t shy at all about sharing with us how unpleased they were.

But I won’t elaborate on all that. I am the soul of discretion, now and then. There are things that are meant to be private between a wife and her husband, not to mention between a wife and her contractor, and so all the sarcastic comments and the looks of dismay and the hasty insults will not be written about here, no sirree. We know how to keep things to ourselves, here at the headquarters of vomitingchicken.com. This is something you might not see often—Discretion In Blogging Savvy, otherwise known (out here in the blogosphere) as DIBS. πŸ™‚

DIBS: it’s time.

flair6

(Also? I have one hand duct-taped behind my back; that is how I’m able to do this so well.)

Suffice it to say: one of the guys had a hundred and one reasons why the Flair was a really bad idea, and the other one had a hundred and one more reasons why the Flair was a really bad idea. The reasons, indeed, were worth thinking about. They were.

I took it on the chin, Gentle Readers. I took it on the chin. And the thing was–the more the guys debated my miserable decision between them, the more, shall we say, that they hammered the nails into the coffin of my hopes and dreams of having this Flair installed into my new kitchen . . .Β  the more I wanted this Flair stove installed into my new kitchen.

And so . . . my poor new unwitting Flair (the innocent party in this entire saga) sat out in the garage for weeks–actually a couple of months, I think–lonesome, dirty, and bereft. One of the cats vomited on it. The guys weren’t building cabinetry yet, and I’m pretty sure that they were hoping (against hope!) that they could wear me down and convince me to buy something different before they started building.

My new darling collected a thick layer of dust. I felt sad about it, every time I passed it or thought about it. The word “ignominious” became a word that the Flair and I shared, often, in our many conferences, huddled together on the dirty floor of the garage.

Also “humiliation,” not to mention “rejected” and “forlorn.” “Downcast” was another one. Funny thing: the Flair turned out to be just as much of a word-lover as I am! We bonded.

My Flair: genius bargain buy or utter stoopidness?

My Frigidaire Flair: genius bargain buy, or utter stoopidness?

Meanwhile, I had to wonder what it was, exactly (besides the obvious, which was that it is so different from the norm, and that the guys hated it so–just kidding about that last one) that made me so fond of my new/old vintage stove? In order to actually get my new/old stove installed into my new/old kitchen, I was going to have to (clearly) come up with a few decent reasons for why I wanted it so badly.

“Just because” certainly didn’t cut it. “My sister Mollie loves hers, and she makes gorgeous breads!” probably wasn’t good enough, either. Also in this category of reasons that were sweet, yet not convincing enough to do the job: “Turquoise is my favorite color.”

Oh. Well. I had a startling thought, at least once. To wit:

Could the guys be right? Was I, after all, just being stubborn (I’ll admit that I have been guilty on this point once) and impulsive, or was this stove, after all, a good thing to put into my new kitchen? These are things I pondered.

flair5

The pluses:

  • I got it for a song, for just a tad over $200.00. Price a double wall oven, next time you’re out. They cost around ten times that much.
  • I’ve lost a lot of faith in newer-built appliances (at least the ones that I can afford!), as in recent years the appliance repairman is on my speed-dial. I’m tired of shabby workmanship, and appliances that seem to be designed to break as soon as possible. Also: how long it takes to get a repairman to come to my house, and then, and then: the disturbing report: “I don’t think they make parts for this thing any longer; after all, it’s ten years old!” Gaaaaaah.
  • I love the idea of the ovens being up at waist level, where I don’t have to stoop waaaay over, to look inside them. The safety issue of that hothothot oven door swinging down: how many permanent burn tattoos do I sport on the inside of my forearms? Enough.
  • Two ovens! Two sizes! Two different temperatures! Need I say more?
  • Design, design, design. When these stoves were built, there was . . . (please permit me) flair in the design of appliances. It was the 60s, folks! The design people actually seemed to have a fondness for the folks who were going to use them. The modern stove that I am using now is not ugly, but it’s certainly not beautiful. It’s utilitarian. It works fine. But it gives me no joy, from any aesthetic standpoint. Personally I think appliance designers could do a much better job–for example, it is always a bit of a puzzle which knob controls which burner. I know that’s a quibble, but–hey! How long have they been designing stoves, anyway? Why haven’t they figured out how to make the controls more intuitive and logical? Is cooking not important enough for a bit more thought and effort here? *stepping stiffly off soapbox now* I walked around a home store this week and looked at the design of stoves today. Sorry. Nothing there with flair. (I know that may sound lame. But hey. I’m an artist. We artist-types seek out flair.)
  • Unique, dandy details in design: for example, the oven door suspension! The Flair doors are attached to parallelogram hinges with counterbalancing springs that swing the doors straight upward and out of the way for safe, easy access. It makes me happy just to open the doors and swing them up. So smooth! So . . . . full of flair. I know. I need to get out more.
  • The stovetop drawer is handy in the way it slides out when in use, but then slides back in with a click when you don’t need it. It’s just cool.

flair

On the con side of the equation:

  • The index card (that was taped to the front, with the cheery claim “works!” written on it) notwithstanding, I had no idea if it worked or not, and who I could get to fix it if it didn’t work (the guys had said: “it ain’t gonna be us!”).
  • It lacks a few modern features: high-temperature oven cleaning is one.
  • It’s electric, and I was wanting to install a gas stovetop at least, into this remodel.*
  • It’s huge and blocky and a bit dominating. Fitting it into my kitchen design was going to take some real thought and effort.
  • It’s a nontraditional size and shape, which means that there’s no sliding it into a space that is not custom-made.

Bryan and Reubsy took their time to build the cabinets, and as they built them, they groused about that oven. (Yes, I heard you, guys!) To be fair, they did, after all, make some decent points:

  • What if the Flair didn’t work?
  • What if it did work, they built a cabinet to fit it, and then it stopped working?
  • Who could ever fix it, in the event that that would happen?
  • Why was Pluto no longer considered a planet, what was all that about?
  • Why was the Cowboy Coffee Cake all gone? And when would there be fresh Cowboy Coffee Cake?
  • Why didn’t I just go buy a new stove at the new-stoves store, and donate the Flair back to the once-lauded, now-despised Ecostore--after I made more Cowboy Coffee Cake?
  • Why was I ever born? Why did they ever let me out of the house?
  • Whose Big Idea was it to remodel this blasted kitchen, anyway?
  • Why was the Ecostore ever born? Why didn’t they boycott that horrid business model, years ago??
  • Why weren’t the landfills bigger, so all the Flair stoves in the world could be dumped into them, en masse, and forgotten forever and ever and ever?

I heard all of it. It stung, Gentle Readers, it stung.

potrack

This what happens at our house when a new pot rack is hung above the new kitchen island (my Flair in the background).

Meanwhile, one day when I got home from running errands, I found the guys had gallantly muscled that beast out of the dirty garage, into our temporary kitchen on the sunporch. So, I purred to my Flair, when nobody was around: you’re inside now. That is a good sign, indeedy it is. I happily topped it with a piece of plywood and we used it for the time being as our coffee-making and salad prep area.

We still had no clue if it worked or not. That question stuck in my heart like a burr under the proverbial saddle atop a skitterish race horse: did it work?

Did–it–work? I woke up in the night, in a cold sweat, worrying about it. I knew what shame and ignominious defeat I would be privy to, if it didn’t work. I’d be open to even more insults, laughter, pointing, rude and tiresome guffaws, the whole she-bang. Also, even worse yet: I’d have to go shopping for a new stove. Ugh.

So I had an island in my temp kitchen, and my Flair was it.

So I had an island in my temp kitchen, and my Flair was it. My Flair made a nice island. It’s turquoise, did I tell you? I–love—turquoise.

For the record: I know that many remodelers and homeowners today fancy themselves wanting a commercial kitchen the likes of which they see on those cooking shows on the telly. I’ve heard my own friends and family hankering after big professional stoves made by Aga or Viking and, after all, I can see the appeal: they are massive, shiny, new, eminently useful. Also pricey, well out of the budgets of mere mortals like myself.

(Please humor me with one more note in this vein, while we’re on the subject: The designers of these fancy stoves, obviously, are not thinking about toddlers in the kitchen, or young children learning how to cook on those stove tops! All those blessed knobs, within reach of chubby little hands, and placed right there for your nine-year-old to spill pancake batter all over them! Oiy! Do stove designers just hate families, or what?)

For the record. In fairness. And so forth. I did go shopping at the big stores and I looked at a lot of conventional stoves, and I studied the double wall ovens (this was what the fellas thought I should have). They were nice and shiny and all, but pricey ($2K!) and the result: I wanted the Flair even more.

I did some Flair-related homework, so I didn’t appear an uncomprehending nit-wit who can’t see more than her side of any issue (whistling):

  • I grilled my sister Mollie about her Flair, quite thoroughly. She continued to hold her previously- mentioned support for her Flair, and for mine. I drank in her enthusiasm, since it was, after all, the only positive words I was hearing in support of my position.
  • I posted a picture of my Flair stove on my vomitingchicken.com Facebook page (by the way, you oughta “like” it; we have a lot of fun over there) and asked for input. At least one savvy reader suggested that in the day of the making of the Flair (from 1960 to 1970) that things were built out of “real metal” and that I should hang onto it. A couple others (kindred spirits, obviously) expressed amazement and frank envy. I reflected.
  • I did as much reading online as I could. I was impressed with the little club of “crazy for my Flair!” folks out there. Actually several clubs, that I ran across in a very short time.
  • I sent a request to a Google group* to join a Frigidaire Flair forum.
  • I checked out a couple of Facebook Flair groups.

Then one day I came home from another of the never-ending trips to the hardware store (*sigh* you need more lumber? Again?) and the grocery store (ran out of butter for--you guessed it–Cowboy Coffee Cake) to find that Bryan and Reuben had moved the Flair across the room to a 210 outlet and had plugged it in. My dad was there, also. They were standing around it, in frank amazement.

Gentle Readers . . . it worked. My Flair stove did operate like it was supposed to.

I didn’t have egg on my face, after all! Bryan wasn’t going to throw me indecorously out into a snow bank for bringing home The Wrong Thing. Not this time, anyway. My life was spared. My Flair worked. Reuben and Bryan and Dad stood around my stove (which was still sitting on the floor) and contemplated it.

I don’t know how long they stood there with their mouths hanging open, because for my part–I was out doing cartwheels in the yard.

Therefore, the cabinet-building went on as planned, and the guys built this for my Flair:

flair2

We were So Happy.

Which is why it was such a crushing disappointment when it didn’t work the first time I tried to bake bread in it.

flairbraed

It was Christmas week, and I was baking something special for the kids. It was so much fun to turn the lights on in the oven, and to preheat it for the first time, and to slide the loaves of bread in to my new Flair! Such a triumph, after all!!

But for some reason . . . after the baking time was complete, they didn’t look quite right. They were still doughy inside . . . the oven didn’t seem very hot . . . well, it was warm but certainly not the 450Β° that I had it set on. Oh . . . noooo . . .

Quietly, with my back to the houseful of people (waiting for hot bread in the next room) I fiddled with the knobs. Wait a minute. I had turned on the big oven, and it was barely warm. The smaller oven didn’t work at all. Oh . . . nooooo . . . .Β What on earth had happened? Why didn’t it work?

I kept this bit of disappointing intel to myself, Gentle Readers. After all. If I was going to be brutally murdered by an enraged husband and contractor duo, it wasn’t going to be during Christmas week, for pete’s sake. It could wait. No harm in waiting until the kids had left, anyway.

I quietly slid the unfinished bread into my other oven and finished the baking, and I didn’t try to use the Flair again that week. I didn’t talk about it. I tried not to worry about it. But I knew I had a big problem on my hands.

But then. You know, of course it was heavy on my head and heart, and I was praying about my Flair all this time. I can only attribute a divine, merciful, loving power with the next series of events, to wit:

Remember that *Google group that I reached out to, a couple of months earlier? I had sent the group forum a message about the couple of things on the stove that I had discovered that didn’t work–this was before the ignominious fail of the entire thing at Christmastime.

Well, I finally heard from somebody in that group. His name was Tom, he was an angel sent from God a car mechanic from California, and he had (get. this.) a hobby of collecting and repairing old Frigidaire Flair stoves. Yes. I am totally not making this up, Gentle Reader.

This was his first email to me: (edited for brevity, although it’s a bit late for that, eh?)

Amy, whenever you have an old Frigidaire Flair, replace the plug, no matter how good it looks, they get old and rot. You can get new plugs that are an exact match at Home Depot, for about $15.00, most of the time that helps, is it the speed heat burner (that isn’t working)? . . . the switch, they go out over time, I can send you another one. Test the small oven, if the element does not come on and the broiler won’t come on, then it’s a switch, if the element does not come on but the broiler does, it’s the element, I can send you both, let me know! –Tom

This was too good to be true. I could barely believe my good fortune. This guy seemed to know a thing or two about Frigidaire Flairs! I excitedly emailed him back, and over the next few days we conversed at length about Flairs in general, and my Flair in particular. I learned a lot about my old/new stove. For example:

“They built the Frigidaire Flair range from 1960 to 1970, built by General Motors, that’s why the panel looks like a car dashboard, and they’re built like an old Buick! They weigh over 350 lbs, but I’m sure you found that out . . .”

flair4

Tom described what I needed to do first to fix my stove: replace the plug, and also put in a new fuse, and also where that fuse happened to be located. Also, he told me this:

“I have about six of these stoves in my garage, I have used working parts, when people try to sell their Flairs, I get the people to donate them to me, then I send parts off to people who need them, just pay postage, it keeps these stoves running, let me know what’s happening after you replace the plug, thanks, Tom”

Tom asked for a picture of mine, and he figured out from the picture which model it was, and more.

“Ok . . . Your model is from 1964, just a little different, I will see what parts I have for yours, no worries, I had a few of these that I gutted last year, the 1964 model is a little harder to find, but had a lot of chrome, and when it’s cleaned up and you have it all lit up at night it really does looks incredible! It’s really practical art, craftsmanship from another time…”

No worries, said my new best friend Tom.

Once I had this wondrous and practical information from Tom, from California, I broached the subject to Bryan: my Flair doesn’t seem to work, but here’s how we can fix it. Bryan–bless him–was so tired and numb from working hard all week, and then coming home to work hard on the remodeling, that he didn’t argue with me. We stopped at Home Depot and bought the cord and plug, and a fuse. Then we got busy on other stuff, and I forgot about it (kind of) for a couple of weeks.

Then the day came.

Amalia and I were out running errands (honestly, writing all about this story helps me realize where all my time has gone in the past few months: running errands!) and my cell phone buzzed from my purse pocket. Startled (usually Amalia has my ‘phone in her pocket), I fumbled in my purse and found it and answered it. It was Bryan.

“Your stove works,” he said. “All of it, except for one knob that seems to be broken. We replaced the plug, two fuses, and fixed a couple of broken wires in the back. It’s all in working order.”

He sounded just as shocked as I felt.

So that’s the story, Gentle Reader. Bryan and Reuben were both quite amazed, too, at how easy it was to fix the Flair stove. They bought wires from the auto store in town, to fix the couple of busted wires. To make things even better, our appliance repairman (his name is Josh, and you know that we are on first-name basis of course) was visiting the other day, repairing my clothes washer, and he saw the Flair and mentioned that he services a few of “those weird stoves” and that he has parts for them.

Oh, and by the way, Tom mailed me a new switch for the knob that was broken, and a little glass plate that was missing from inside my Flair.

Affirming that it all, after all, is good.

flair5

finis and huzzah! and *hugs*]

Thanks for sticking with me, Gentlest of Readers. You’ll be hearing more about my Flair stove and my kitchen remodel–which, believe it or not–is actually beginning to get closer and closer to being finished.

Huzzah, indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Kitchen Remodel, part 5B: the Flair story: the Riveting Denouement!

  1. Wendy

    I think it’s awesome that you found such a treasure. When I moved into the house that we are in now I had a double oven that I absolutely adored it was crica late 60’s and made by White Westinghouse.. You couldn’t see in the doors as the interior was all chrome.. What made this my very most favorite oven in the whole world was the fact that the doors opened from one side to another not top to bottom.. We moved in here in “93” and they worked till about 3 years ago.. Unlike you I didn’t seek out groups for my beloved oven.. Right now I’m hitting myself in the head for not thinking about it.. Well as it goes it broke again and this time nary a part to be had not even a universal one my hubby could rig.. Needing my ovens we made the decision to change it out.. Now the new one is the bane of my existence. If it’s the same hole that the other one came out of but it is not as wide inside so a lot of my cookie sheets don’t fit in it.. Not just that but it does not keep an accurate temperature and it takes forever to preheat wishing I had my old one back!!!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Ohhhhh Wendy, I do feel your pain! I’m so sorry for your regrets. Hopeful that you’ll figure out how to get your new stove to work better.

    2. dramamamafive Post author

      Wendy, I read your comment to my daught Amalia and she said “she used the phrases ‘nary a part’ and ‘bane of my existence.’ I like her, Mom.” For the record. πŸ™‚

  2. Samnjoeysgrama

    My 1950s O’Keefe and Merritt ($250 fifteen years ago in Denver antique store) is the best stove I’ve ever used and I’m 67. They now sell for thousands. It was a great buy!

  3. Alana

    I read this on my lunch break on my phone- and, although the reading took up a lot of the break it was well worth it. I will answer your question “why were you ever born?” You were born to save this masterpiece from the dump and make this Flair famous, that’s why. I am going to include this post in my weekly blog roundup because…well, because I love recycling, I love the way appliances were made to last back when, and because…well, because I love chrome. And because that stove would take up about 1/2 of my small home. If I didn’t have a small home, I would envy….you……so………much. So anyway, I showed it to my husband, the family cook and it was instant love for him too. “Waist high ovens!” he exclaimed. I know my son, who is in his mid 20’s and loves to fix things, and loves old things, would have loved to help you fix this.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Alana, if your son is ever out here in “flyover country” make sure that he stops by. I’d love to show off my Flair to him! And thank you for your kind words. And for the mention in your weekly blog roundup, too. You know that you’ve always been my favorite. πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: Kitchen Remodel, part 5: the much-ballyhooed Flair story (part 1) - vomitingchicken.com

  5. Sharon H

    I love the way you think and speak and write…..hahaha, you sound like ME….and I also love words.
    I must tell you that many years ago, in the mid to late 60’s in fact, I had a new stove that was very similar to your Flair. It had the slide out range surface, and double ovens. But my ovens were more traditionally placed: one on the bottom and one on the top. The very best thing about that?

    T. I. M. E. B. A. K. E. and S. E. L. F. C. L. E. A. N.

    Oh how I adored that brand-spanking-bright-and-shiny-new-object-of-my-affections! Sigh….I rather wish I still had it, but it stayed with the house. I am so happy for YOU, though. Look forward to more of your stories.

  6. Joyce

    Oh my goodness, Amy, what a wonderful read this morning! Never a dull moment at your casa! Of course, your gift of telling the story through words is what makes it the wonderfully entertaining read that our is (with a few LOL’s, of course!). Ahh, you make us feel a bit more human to know we’re not the only ones who do (what some others perceive to be) crazy things!

    I do hope you post a picture of her lit up at night when you have her chrome all shiny!

    Wishing the two of you many wonderful conversations in the years to come!

  7. Judy Simpson

    Amy I was going to tell you that when my parents built the house in Burwell in 1964 that this is the same stove my mom picked out!!!
    As I remember it always worked well.

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