When I stayed with my mum's parents as a kid I have memories of my grandfather sharpening his cut-throat razor on a leather strop, of playing cards on the lounge room carpet, and of Des, the ice delivery man, arriving each week with big dripping blocks that he would lug through the house to the kitchen and lower into the ice-chest.
I'm not really sure what that ice-chest was meant to be keeping 'cold' - my grandmother was into salting, spicing, smoking, pickling and drying.
Who needs fresh meat, fish, milk, fruits, and vegetables? Turns out this grandson did, and finally a new-fangled refrigerator was acquired.
It may well have run on gas, and 50 years later when dear wife and I went bush, with no grid electricity to call on, we were donated just such a device. From the look of it, it could well have been my grandparent's.
Our solar power man, G. (ex-RAAF technician, Cambodian hotel owner, man of the cloth, adviser on all technical issues, great bloke) explained patiently how a gas refrigerator works.
What I think he said was that the gas flame heats up an ammonia/water solution, the resulting ammonia gas flows into a condenser, dissipates heat, converts back into a liquid, is mixed with hydrogen gas and evaporates, producing cold temperatures. I think.
He also said there are no moving parts, and the really important thing to remember was, bizarrely, to turn the fridge upside down every 12 months or so.
Apparently the ammonia liquid in the generator settles over time, and turning the whole shebang on its head helps it circulate.
This we did annually, with a sort of Heimlich manoeuvre and much grunting and swearing.
Handy tip: empty the refrigerator and freezer first.
Last month, after some 16 years of sterling performance for us, and who knows how many years for its previous owner, it died.
The pilot flame would not stay alight, there was a strange burnt smell, and evidence of overheating.
We turned it upside down, which we had actually done only a few months previously, cleaned everything, reconnected it, and started pushing the starter switch.
Obviously no spark was reaching the pilot light - it needed to be lit manually. Whoomp!
The positives to come out of the day were that no one died, and the house didn't burn down.
We might give the old fridge to an early settlers museum.
The plumber, who noticed my singed hair and eyebrows when he came to connect our brand new refrigerator, reckoned we should buy a lottery ticket.