It's a small seven cubic foot freezer that we bought second hand back when the first Bush was in the White House. It's been sitting there in the laundry room keeping our food frosty for years. I’ve mentioned it before, but we put our TV in the laundry room for inconvenience (so that we wouldn’t watch it all the time).
But I would hear the freezer click and and run for about five seconds before clicking off.
Hmmm, I thought, this just didn't sound right.
When I stepped over to investigate, I immediately knew something was wrong. The hamburger meat, instead of being as hard as a brick, was mushy.
I quickly shut the lid and searched for the words to break the news gently to my wife Jilda. She did not take it well.
The next morning, I began cleaning out the freezer and tossing food into huge garbage bags.
It hurt me deeply to throw away quarts of blackberries I'd picked last year. I shed blood, sweat and tears picking those berries.
Along with the berries were countless containers of apples from our tree, peaches, black-eyed peas, corn and okra that we grew last year.
We had several hundred dollars worth of meat: chicken, hamburger and a rack of ribs.
We’d been planning a backyard fish fry for all of Jilda’s family with the bags of fish that we’d been saving. All of it had to be tossed.
I didn't have the heart to actually tally everything up. Suffice it to say, replacing the freezer was much cheaper than replacing the food.
Tossing food is something that goes against our grain.
Both her parents and mine survived the Great Depression.
Before Franklin Roosevelt helped put the country back to work, most folks in the south knew what it was like to go hungry, and I think they all made silent promises to never go without again.
Our parents had freezers brimming with food.
Back when Jilda and I first married and were as broke as a politician's promise, the food in those freezers helped us make it through.
Whenever we’d visit, they’d always ask: “Do y’all have food?” We’d tell them we were fine, but they knew we were living like paupers.
After a while we got on our feet and started doing the same things as they did. We’d look for good buys on food and squirrel it away in our pantry and freezer.
There’s something comforting about the knowledge that you have enough food saved to get you through the hard times.
I found a new freezer that is more efficient than the old one. The old freezer will be on the way to the recycling place on Monday.
Over the coming months, we'll slowly build up our food reserves.
Some people may call us crazy, and that's probably true, but you can blame it on our parents.