02 October 2009

A Touching Story

Apparently in 1963, turning the handles of a faucet was a labor most terrible and unbecoming to the forward-thinking homemaker. To eradicate this scourge, Tappan created the Ultraflo plumbing system. Citing Popular Mechanics magazine, its panel of push-buttons delivered water without the tedious 'waiting...to reach the desired temperature [or] trial-and-error manipulation of the faucets.'

Thank goodness.


  1. In World Without End returning astronauts encounter a time warp — you know… time warp — landing on a future earth ravaged by atomic war. A de­cay­ing race of men, forced to live underground while monsters roam the surface, is unable to produce normal offspring. I saw this movie in 1956 (first run) for 25¢ matinee price at a time in my life when offspring didn't interest me all that much. What I really found interesting was that all their metal had fatigued to such an extent that pistols made from it exploded in test chambers — sus­pi­ciously like someone had plugged them up before firing. Also, their showers had no handles. That's right, in 1956 they had already bettered the push button sink. This was probably the cheapest special effect in movie history, but one I never forgot. Their showers, i.e. the shower of the future, knew what temperature you wanted, knew when to turn on and off, and gave you exactly how much water you wanted. No handles, no buttons, no nothing. Take that, Tappan.

  2. while these pushbuttons may have been pure contrivance in '63, their offspring—due to the advent of computer technology, of course—could reduce US water usage by 50%, with very little difficultly. farfetched, you may say? think for a minute: how often do you turn your bathroom sink's water on, and let the water run while you wash your hands? or more to the point, when was the last time you stepped in the shower, turned on the water for say 45 seconds—enough time to get yourself soaked—then turned the water off, and left it off, until the end of your shower?
    Yes, our culture doesn't truly care that much about conservation, but if some new fangled devise did the labor to pull it off…

  3. Or you could have computerized brain implants that make people care. On the other hand, I think Leslie established at the outset that turning sink handles on and off is not labor. Myself, I prefer the shower of the future, but rather than tricking people into using less water by means of games involving buttons, maybe we should concentrate on just making showers unpleasant. How difficult would an electrical current be? Computer controlled, of course.

  4. Consider the possibility that this kitchen plumbing advancement was designed to accommodate the latest dance steps of 1963[see "Shall We Dance?"]. With Ultra-Flo plumbing, two people could Do the Twist and wash the dishes without risk of (serious) injury.

  5. @wendywinn: Hee! Quite a mental image...


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