Gadgets on display in Dayton hearken to earlier age

Flapper toasters at Dayton Depot.jpg

Roughly 100 years after their original use, approximately 200 household gadgets are now on display at The Dayton Historic Depot Museum.

After a call was put out on Facebook and local newspapers in December, the gadgets started arriving for the new exhibit called Make a Better Home: Domestic Gadgetry and Rural Electrification.

About half the items on display are hand powered, foot powered or designed to be heated over wood stoves

As for the remaining items, they were created at the dawn of the age of the electric appliance, explained Depot Museum Director Tamara Fritze.

At that time, manufacturers were hoping to get rich off items like an electric egg beater that never quite took off.

Toasters, however, were a staple then as they are today for the modern kitchen.

Only the first electric toasters didn’t pop up the toast but let it flap down on a swinging panel — hence they are called flapper toasters, Fritze said.

The collection also sports a number of electric irons very similar to the ones used today, except that they are shiny and lack plastic parts.

What has also survived from that time is the idea of financing your purchase.

In 1934, the federally backed Electric Home and Farm Authority was created to allow consumers to buy electric appliances on payments. The goal was to get more households to use more electricity, thus lowering electric cost overall. And Fritze is sure many of the appliances would have been bought over time through the agency.

While most of the items on exhibit are no longer used, a few are still plugged in.

“These vacuum cleaners I know for a fact that they work,” Fritze said about two uprights. “I have heard them both and they are ear numbing.”

A favorite of Fritze that is still around today — just for a different use — is the Everhot. The device looks and functions like a crockpot, only it was used to keep metal food containers warm. It seems the concept of actually cooking in an Everhot wasn’t popular in the 1930s and ’40s.

“They didn’t think in those terms,” Fritze said. “It was just to keep dinner warm.”

The collection also includes several pre-electric typewriters that people can try out. And there are various infrastructure items on display, too.

Make a Better Home: Domestic Gadgetry and Rural Electrification officially opened in March and will run through Nov. 15.

The museum is located at 222 E. Commercial Ave. in Dayton.

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