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From the Backstory Collection - 002 - The New Villa French fried potato cutter.


Today I added yet another item to my growing collection of mid-century kitchen appliances. Among the myriad other antique store distractions, the New Villa french fried potato cutter stood out, like a forlorn dog-pound pooch, crying out ‘look at me! Take me home!’ The graphic design elements surely ticked all right boxes: phenomenal typographic elements of varying weights and thickness framed a deftly rendered illustration of a debutante housewife - very much in the Grace Kelly mold - sensuously caressing a metal implement as if it was an object of the utmost resplendence. Her downcast gaze conveys the look of an expectant fiancée receiving a small box from a jewelry store. On first inspection, the overall look of the piece, the ‘pinafore chic,’ the Deco-hangover typefaces, seemed to place it in the realm of the early 1950s. However, on the Woodward’s price tag, it was dated as 1963. It seemed like a steal for ‘only’ $2.25, but then I calculated this would be the equivalent of $21 dollars in today’s money. I paid fifteen for it, quite contentedly, and headed back to my car. Driving home, I decided that I was going to put it to the test. A buddy had given me a bag of robust-looking spuds from his backyard last week, so I already had the prime material for French fries. The bag was right there on the kitchen island; no need for a trip to the grocery store. The implement looked pristine. Possibly unused. All the more reason, I figured, to put it to the test. You see, if an implement has never been employed to fulfill that function for which it was created, then it is never fully the thing that it purports to be. It is an essential Heideggerian phenomenological aspect of a tool that it should come into being by doing.

Tip-top, uniformly cut chips were a most satisfying outcome to this particular endeavor. Both my kids were happy with the end result and I could rest assured that the New Villa french fried potato cutter, in my mind at least, had come (maybe back?) into being.

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