The Real Value of Refrigerator Magnets

We once had a refrigerator in our kitchen. Admittedly it was an older variety, a Hotpoint No Frost. I believe the color was Harvest Gold, a vintage shade of brownish yellow from the 1980s, popular when we first bought our house. Always a reliable machine, that fridge kept our food cold and/or frozen as appropriate. It did all the things a good refrigerator should do.

Sometime last year, however, we finally lost our fridge… Well, not really. It just sort of disappeared behind a veritable wall of refrigerator magnets, family pictures, and other assorted memorabilia so vast, that we could no longer see the front or the side of the ol’ icebox. We just intrinsically know that it’s buried somewhere in that pile of pictures, calendars, school notices and advertisements all firmly attached to the ol’ icebox with a variety of magnets.

Now I really don’t mind that colorful conglomeration. As long as we can see the handles to the fridge and the freezer, I know we won’t starve. The magnets actually make a great conversation piece and save us the hassle of pulling out a dozen picture albums every time someone drops by to visit. We just show ‘em the magnets, grab some cold drinks and sandwiches from the fridge, and reminisce about the pictures – all in one place. Sort of like one-stop shopping…

Of course, these refrigerator collections are nothing new to most households – especially of you have kids. I suspect that most people are pretty good at keeping the pictures current – unfortunately, we were never very good at updating our collection…

Witness the fact that we have thirteen pictures of our nephew Mitch magnetically attached to the fridge. It seems that our collection spans his lifetime which is now approaching his ninth year. By contrast, we have exactly three pictures of our daughter and, well, one picture of our son on the fridge door. And those shots are at least ten years old. It’s not that we haven’t taken any pictures of our kids over the years – it’s just that with digital technology these days, we hardly ever print them. And those that we do print go right into one of the several hundred scrapbooks my wife has been compiling over the years.

We have a few million additional pictures on the door too. Most are of other assorted nieces and nephews, grandchildren of neighbors who moved away years ago, and even a few of people that I don’t even recognize. No one in the family seems to know the identity of one baby picture, maybe it was left over from the last folks who owned the house…24 years ago.

There’s one picture of my wife and I when I still had purely brown hair, with no grey. (My wife, of course, has always had brown hair…all husbands know that.) A guardian angel magnet hangs upside down, firmly holding down the corner of a calendar from 2006. There are magnetic business cards from auto repair shops, real estate agents, car dealers, health care facilities, radios stations, even the chimney sweep who saved the day about four years ago by removing the remains of several unfortunate squirrels from our chimney stack.

We just dumped last year’s magnetic Red Sox schedule, hoping to soon replace that with a fresh one for this season. We’re proud that the current year’s calendar is now hanging up there – three of them, as a matter of fact – right next to the hotline information from a college our daughter has chosen not to attend. The Prayer to St. Francis is proudly displayed, attached to the door by a magnetic button I received from our town’s Sewer Commission that says “Keep the Storm Drains Clean”.

There are a dozen magnetic advertisements from a company I once ran – we sold that business in 2001. The heart-shaped magnets say “We don’t mind if you KISS N’ tell-a-friend about PagodaVision Cable TV”. The band aid-shaped ones simply state “To heal the bumps and bruises of Cable TV, call 921-5555.” Sorry, no one will answer that number these days. Besides, it was in Pennsylvania.

There’s a magnet from Jesus, I guess, telling us that the Sacred Heart of Jesus believes in us. We won’t be removing that magnet anytime soon. But we’ll probably dump those old school calendars, as well as the paper doll-sized magnets of Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa, with creepy smiles on their faces. God only where those even came from…

There’s a neat little list of “Things to take with you when you go on vacation” that we discovered hidden underneath an old Bruins schedule – from 2005. We only began to follow the Bruins again last year, but we sure didn’t in 2005. Go figure.

So, all in all, I suspect that, given the randomness of this stuff stuck to our refrigerator door, we have most likely been trying to, subconsciously, cover our refrigerator because the color is just so outdated. And if that’s the case, we better step up our efforts, because the dish washer – which we haven’t used more than a dozen times in 24 years – and the stove, which we have, are also of the same vintage color. Too bad the magnets won’t adhere to our wood-simulated plastic kitchen cabinets too…

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