In the Aug. 27, 1930, issue of The Electric Refrigeration News, dealers in the San Francisco area stated their “almost unanimous belief … that the bottom of the depression has passed and that by Spring [1931], trade will be back to normal.”

R.E. Glover, head of the Pacific Refrigerator Co., called his firm “a sort of barometer for general business conditions.” He pointed out that the more well-known refrigerator brands tended to “run away with the market”; when his company’s business picked up, though, business in general must have been improving. The dealer sold O’Keefe & Merritt refrigerators, which were California made.

W.L. Cochran, head of Cochran & St. John Ltd., an Absopure distributor, also reported very good business “not only in household installations, but also for apartments and commercial purposes.”

Sometimes installations had unexpected risks. In Huron, S.D., two installers were mistaken for burglars when trying to install an electric refrigerator - a surprise 25th wedding anniversary gift - for Rev. and Mrs. R.A. Cowling.

One of the two young men taken into custody was Mervyn Cowling, one of the couple’s sons. He and an associate arrived at the home at 1 a.m. and installed the unit. The neighbors, knowing that the Cowlings were away on vacation, alerted the police to the “prowlers.”

“We talked to the two officers, who had guns drawn when they entered the house, for nearly 15 minutes before convincing them we were on a different mission than they expected,” Cowling said. “The officers had a good laugh and went on their way,” after giving them a warning.

What we don’t know is why they had to wait until 1 a.m. if the Cowlings were out of town anyway. Ah, youth.

We’re turning 85 this year, celebrate with us! For more information, contact Publisher John Conrad at

Publication date:01/17/2011