No, not those Ropers (but now I know how old you are); these Ropers were my washer and dryer. They were dubbed “The Ropers” because, well, they were Ropers – Roper brand appliances that is.
Years ago I moved into a new apartment that actually had a small utility room for in-apartment laundry – I was thrilled. Before I even moved in I slotted the next Saturday to purchase a washer and dryer so that I could schedule delivery for move-in day and not go twenty minutes longer with the human beating that is the public Laundromat.
I figured this would be a quick in-and-out trip to my local Sears to make my selection, that is until my then boyfriend / now husband stepped in. “You can’t just go and buy something, you have to comparison shop.” I get comparison-shopping; “should I get the black cashmere cardigan, or the gray? Or both?” These are weighty topics that one should not rush into without retail guidance. But appliances? Really? I have to shop for these? I can’t just buy them?
Six hours later, after criss-crossing town a few times and visiting any store that sold appliances (including Montgomery Ward – that’s how old I am), I was the proud owner of The Ropers. My boyfriend assured me that despite the fact that I’d never heard of a Roper, it was a quality product (manufactured by Whirlpool as a matter of fact – so why don’t they just call it a Whirlpool then?), that were the right size for my little utility room and, as a bonus, were also the lowest priced.
The Ropers were, shall we say, rudimentary. The washing machine had one setting - wash. You could decide how long you wanted to wash something, but that was it. You had to hope your delicates could survive the 10-minute cycle in the Roper. For consistency, the dryer also had one setting (they were a pair after all) – dry. The heat was nuclear, flexibility was provided with a similar timer setting as the washer – do you want 15 minutes of radiation exposure, or 55?
The Ropers went from my apartment to my condo and it was about this time that I thought as a homeowner, I should have a proper washer and dryer – something that offered a bit more “subtlety” than The Ropers could offer me. My then live-in boyfriend / now husband (the same one) said that when The Ropers went to the big washer and dryer corral in the sky, we could get new, more capable units. And then one day the dryer stopped drying. I couldn’t contain my excitement and started plotting a course for my new purchase. Unfortunately my all-too-handy of a partner fixed the issue with a $13 part and 20 minutes labor. Rats!
The Ropers followed us to our first house together, where one day the washer stopped washing. This is it; I knew victory would soon be mine! Another trip to the parts store for a $50 water pump and two hours labor by my now-husband and we were back in business. Foiled again!
Couple years later and we’re now in house #2 with The Ropers. They’d tracked me to my fourth domicile in seven years; I was going to die with these things, I knew it. Shortly after moving to this house an aunt was in town on business and came by for dinner to check out our new place. Over dinner we talked about how our washer and dryer were industrial strength units fit for military service and how I couldn’t get new ones until they died. She was amused by the whole story and said offhandedly (and I’m NOT making this up); “Well they’ll die someday as long as they’re not Ropers.” My eyes got wide as saucers and I squeaked, “They are Ropers”. I’m pretty sure a corn niblet came shooting out of her nostril when she lost it mid-chew. We never found it, but we have dogs so we never find a lot of things.
The Ropers lived with us another year until finally our refrigerator died (wait for it, there is a connection) and my husband was put in charge of buying a new one. Long story short, we ended up with all new kitchen appliances (something about being dazzled by the new stainless steel versions of everything we already had and wasn’t broken – I need to meet that salesman – I could learn from him). The kitchen appliances were then to The Ropers what a 54” flat-screen plasma is to a 19” tube television; my husband wouldn’t have it and I landed new, state-of-the art front-loading units.
About a month later we put The Ropers in a yard sale and they were sold in first 20 minutes to a nice couple who bought them for their college-aged son who just got his first off-campus apartment. The single “wash” and “dry” settings were thought to be a big plus for his limited domestic sensibilities. I have no doubt that The Ropers are still going strong, but I do feel a pang of guilt knowing that when his girlfriend moves in she’ll probably pick up where I left off.