My Refrigerator Door

My Refrigerator Door
James Leiner, July 2016

I was visiting a friend recently and sitting at her kitchen table while she prepared coffee in one of those new single cup makers. Lisa and I spent at least ten minutes going through the assortment of coffee and tea selections in those little plastic cups and making small talk about the kids and the weather. I listened as best I could until my attention was drawn to her refrigerator door; it was bristling with magnets. Dozens and dozens of little multi-covered magnets from all the stores in town or hawking the candidacy of every political wanna-be in the last decade. Her fridge had enough magnetic insulation to keep the cold inside.
She noticed where my eyes had strayed. Smiling, she told me when her mom died recently the children picked out what they wanted from her possessions, she chose the refrigerator magnets. On days when the memories of her mother bring tears to her eyes looking at her mother’s fridge-art magnets gives her comfort. I understood how magnets and fridge art could be mementos of someone’s life as they certainly have been in mine. I remember some of the things magnets held to my mom’s refrigerator door. She would post little quotes making me contemplate life’s events. There were also comics from the daily newspaper that made me laugh. Her refrigerator door was an art show and her kitchen’s bumper sticker. It was a scrapbook before scrapbooking was popular. Mom obtained her fridge long before there were colors like harvest gold or avocado green. Her appliance was an exotic hue called “White,” and had three climate zones. The first, closest to the door kept things at room temperature; we put little there. The second zone was in the middle and maintained a temperature close to the expected level. The third area, at the rear, froze things. It was only used when we had to chill something in a hurry. Mom’s fridge needed to be defrosted several times a year, but the outside of door on her “ice-box” got an annual spring cleaning.
My refrigerator door is no different than my mom’s or my friends. It’s full of memories and it’s out family encyclopedia. It is a form of Journaling; it serves as a communications center. In the early years of our marriage, my wife and I had more on the outside of the fridge than we did inside. The front door gave me something to read and took my mind off the day’s troubles. Over the years magnets with funny slogans and intriguing shapes turned our refrigerator door into a nostalgic family photo album of fridge-art. Our magnets also held crayon drawings, report card, bills, menus, quotes, obituaries, business cards, phone numbers, recipes, greeting cards, letters, cartoons, newspaper clippings, coupons, notes, grocery lists; a lifetime of fridge art and nostalgic memories. I often thought it would take a hardened soul to look over s stranger’s refrigerator door and remain emotionally uninvolved.
The current library of fridge-art at my smaller condominium has been downsized for the sake of expediency. No reams of paper stick to it. Various electronic instruments of communications have usurped its information-exchange duties. Our door however is still and important daily organizer. There is a magnetic, dry erasable calendar board, scores of magnets hold messages, a notepad for grocery lists, emergency phone numbers, photos of the grandchildren, postcards, cartoon, and other necessities.
Last week my wife Judy and I were driving across the Newburgh/Beacon Bridge to see a Renegades ballgame. I said to her, “Wish I had brought the refrigerator with me.” She gave me that look she has become good at giving me. “Why on earth would you want to bring the refrigerator with you?” she asked. It was a reasonable question.
I replied, “Because our tickets to the game are under a magnet on the door!”

-Jim Leiner was born and raised in Nyack with family roots going back generations. Leiner was a columnist for Nyack Villiager “Remember the Days?” since 2003.
Leiner graduated Nyack High School in 1963 and graduated Rockland Community College, and Saint Thomas Aquinas before attaining his MBA from University of Michigan. Leiner had a 30 year + career as New Business representative and manager with Orange and Rockland Utilities. Leiner was very active in Nyack Fire Depts., served in the US Navy, and is married to his High School sweetheart, Judy Polhemus, for more than 50 years.