Compared to Louise Greenfarb, who lives in Las Vegas, I’m a piker. I have 10 refrigerators magnets, which seems like plenty to me. The Guinness Book of World Records credits her for 29,000 and counting. That’s nuts — but who am I to judge relative nuttiness?I’m sure Louise didn’t spend an hour today making pompoms to top car antenna sleeves.
I don’t remember any magnets on my mother’s Frigidaire when I was growing up. It turns out that I was in college when William Zimmerman from St. Louis took out the first patent in the early seventies. Forty years later 80% of fridges in developed countries sport a magnet or six.
Here is my collection, minus one that hangs on the front door to hold down the postcard from the Purple Hearts reminding me to get that box of old paperbacks and bag of my redundant Dress for Success togs onto the front porch on the right day.
I don’t as a rule keep magnets on the fridge — the fridge sits near the stove and it’s a pain to shuffle them around when I wipe it down. I hang them on the garage door that opens from the dining room. As you can see, my magnets are utilitarian — they either hold something up or provide information : my sister-in-law’s work number, or the dates of the ‘Ville farmer’s Market (tractor.) My faves are the four stainless jobbies, which I pickled up at a housewares shop in Ottawa. Their force fields are so strong that thet leap out of my hand and onto the metal with a thunk. The two clip style magnets could hold a two hundred page manuscript, and I could slip a five pound bag of potatoes over the hook — its brawn is being wasted on that potholder.
The Guido Reni Santa Cecilia and Rembrandt’s portrait of his son Titus are happy memories of a visit to the Norton-Simon Museum in Pasadena. And isn’t that why we buy magnets? We never go out to the hardware store with “Buy refrgerator magnet” on the list between the masking tape and the tomato food. We buy them as souvenirs, to keep or to give away when we get home. They’re cheap, they’re cheerful, and they’re a tiny snapshot of a beloved place or a happy time.
Lloyd and his coworkers have a tradition: at the beginning of the year they start with a blank canvas of a fridge door in the break room. When they go on vacation they must bring back a souvenir magnet, and the collection grows as the year marches on. What fun! Maybe it would be cool if I collected magnets of paintings only by Guido Reni — that could be a lifetime museum pursuit.
How many magnets do you own? What are your favorites? Is your collection carefully curated or all over there thematically? Do you color code them? And are there uses for them that I haven’t thought of?