søndag, juli 23, 2017

Besatt av det selvrensende hjemmet

Housework is a thankless, unending job. It’s a nerve-twangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody!

Kvinnen som arbeidet med å lage et selvrensende hjem døde 26. desember i fjor 101 år gammel. Det kom en knapp melding i lokalavisa The Newberg Graphic. Men Frances Gabe hadde noen år i mediene for noen få tiår siden. Denne uka skrev New York Times nekrologen.

Figs and fury

Born of of figs and fury, begynte Frances Gabe det møysommelige arbeidet å utvikle hjemmet sitt til en svær oppvaskmaskin. Barnas fikensyltetøy på veggen: I thought, darn it, this is more than I can handle. Hun grep tak i hageslangen, spylte vekk syltetøyet og kom på tanken om hjemmet som skulle rense seg selv.

Klikk på bildet for å se detaljene.

In each room, Ms. Gabe, tucked safely under an umbrella, could press a button that activated a sprinkler in the ceiling. The first spray sent a mist of sudsy water over walls and floor. A second spray rinsed everything. Jets of warm air blew it all dry. The full cycle took less than an hour.

Et slikt system krever sin tilpasninger, som gulv med mange lag av båtlakk, bilder og pynt dekket av plast og glass and so on. Upholstery was made from a waterproof fabric of Ms. Gabe’s invention, which looked, The Boston Globe said in 1985, “like heavily textured Naugahyde.”

Runoff escaped through drains in Ms. Gabe’s almost imperceptibly sloping floors. It was channeled outside and straight through her doghouse, where the dog was washed in the bargain.

To deal with laundry — in many ways her masterstroke — Ms. Gabe designed a tightly sealed cabinet. Soiled clothing was placed inside on hangers, washed and dried there with jets of water and air, and then, still on hangers, pulled neatly by a chain into the clothes closet.

“You can talk all you like about women’s liberation, but houses are still designed so women have to spend half their time on their knees or hanging their head in a hole,” Ms. Gabe told The Baltimore Sun in 1981.

Nå mener jo jeg at det finnes andre løsninger, først og fremst å gjøre adskillig mindre husarbeide. Dernest å dele arbeidet med alle i husholdningen. Men, tanken er interessant nok den. I 2008 var jeg inne på tanken om en transittsone mellom dusj og påkledning. Når jeg leser dette nå ser jeg at jeg med tiden fant en enklere løsning, jeg legger meg under dyna og ferdigtørker der i fem minutter, mens jeg ser litt på Facebook og sånt.

In a 1982 column about Ms. Gabe’s work, the humorist Erma Bombeck proposed her as “a new face for Mount Rushmore.”


For years, Ms. Gabe toured the country with a working scale model of her house — the model alone took her a year to build — lecturing at museums, universities and women’s clubs.

In 2002 and 2003, the model was exhibited at the Women’s Museum in Dallas. It is now in the collection of the Hagley Museum and Library.

She was very difficult to get along with

Frances Gabe levde et tilbaketrukket liv utenfor Newberg, eller man kunne si at hun hadde et dårlig forhold til naboene. Perhaps it was the series of snarling Great Danes she kept. Perhaps it was her penchant, at least in her younger days, for doing her yard work in the nude.

Den tidligere advokaten hennes, Allyn Brown, var også en venn.

“She was very difficult to get along with,” Mr. Brown said, warmly. “She had an adversarial relationship with all her neighbors and she didn’t do anything to discourage it.”

Though she dreamed of entire villages awash in self-cleaning houses, along with self-cleaning office buildings and hospitals, her vision was not to be. Maintaining a patent takes money, and Ms. Gabe had none.

For the most part, she paid me in Pepsi-Cola, sa advokaten. By 2002, The Times reported, her patent had lapsed. It was never renewed.

I didn’t like my husband anymore

Frances Grace Arnholz vokste opp i en familie der far var arkitekt and builder, and the family moved wherever his job took him: Frances wound up attending 18 elementary schools.

I was born a most unusual person, so I had a heck of a time in school. Everything moved much too slowly. My last day, I stood up in class and screamed at my teacher, ‘You told us that last week!’

She graduated from Girls Polytechnic High School in Portland at 16 and at 17 married Herbert Grant Bateson. The couple ran a repair business in Portland for years. Hun skilte seg på 70-tallet og mannen fortsatte å bo på eiendommen i en bobil. I didn’t like my husband anymore, so I kicked him out to the backyard. Det var etter skilsmissen at hun fant på sitt eget etternavn.

As Ms. Gabe aged, and as natural shocks like floods and earthquakes took their toll on her home, the self-cleaning house became prohibitive to maintain. She earned a modest living charging visitors for tours, but that could not cover the cost of keeping it running.

Bit by bit, the house began to outlive its usefulness, og det fylte seg med ting og rot som i andre hjem. Hun døde i et hospice i Newberg. Barna Grant Bateson og Lourene Bateson Selander døde før henne, og hun etterlot seg 11 barnebarn and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.


Her property was sold some years ago, though the house still stands. “There’s kind of a hippie guy living there and he likes the place,” sier et av barnebarna til New York Times.

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