Vintage Dishwasher Crazy - The Man With the Largest Collection of Antique Dishwashers in the US
The Largest Collection in the US (possibly the world)
In the world of antique dishwashers, Mike Haller is a god! He owns the largest collection of antique dishwashers in the United States, possibly the world.
Haller rolled into my driveway one evening like a museum curator on wheels driving his truck from his home in Peoria, Illinois. His mission was to pick up two antique dishwashers for his collection and one happened to be close to where I live and that’s how I had the privilege of meeting the man who calls himself “dishwashercrazy” on YouTube.
This story starts when I leased an old rental house. “This doesn't work,” the landlord said tapping his hand on the lid of the old kitchen sink top, “in fact I wouldn't even open it.” But I’m the curious type that’s how Haller ended up inspecting the old appliance in my kitchen.
Haller was able to confirm that I had a Youngstown Electric Sink on my hands. “They were called Electric Sinks because the cabinet included the electric dishwasher and could also have been equipped with a garbage disposal . . . it is from around 1952 or a little after.”
It’s hard to believe that Haller has only been collecting since 2008. As of his visit, he had 47 dishwashers in his collection, 37 date from between 1937 and 1960. Haller said he used old magazine advertisements to help him date some of the machines. “The month/year of the manufacturer is probably stenciled on the machine on the dishwasher tank,” but warned Haller, “was probably only visible from somewhere in back.”
I could see how Haller knew these details because the night of his visit he removed the front panel from the old dishwasher with ease and proceeded to inspect it. He showed us where a separate heating unit once sat before the age of large hot water tanks. Haller took us back in time as he explained all the details and inner workings of the old monstrosity. Finally, he gifted us with a rack in case we ever did get it working.
Haller himself has a 1949 General Electric sink in his modern kitchen. He found the treasure in Massachusetts. “It was brand new, never used, never installed, still had the shipping block under the motor and decals on the sink and dishwasher. It even had the 1949 GE Garbage Disposal, which made it a true electric sink.” And yes, Haller still uses this machine on a daily basis.
Dishwashers were Rare in the Early Days
It was quite rare to have an electric sink in the early days of dishwashers and they were expensive. Holler said originally these work horses could cost between $400 - $500. As I look around at the shabby chic little Cape Cod I live in, I can not visualize it once being a home of privilege.
But according to Retrorenovation.com, “Youngstown Kitchens were the #1 brand of steel kitchen cabinets across America in the postwar period.” Ironically, in a Life magazine Youngstown Kitchen ad from 1947, the reader is asked, “Why dream at these prices?”
Embracing the Past
But dream was all we could do. It would have been great to get the old electric sink working if only for nostalgia sake because the old appliance certainly would not clean like today’s modern technology, but the electric was not hooked up, the seal was rotted and there a hole in the bottom that would need patched. Haller estimated that it had not been functional in over 30 years. This was an imposition that even an enthusiastic family member would not want to tackle.
Still for Haller, dishwashers are a labor of love and memories. He recalled when he was 6 or 7 years old spending time with relatives who owned an electric sink and believes his fascination started back then. He claims the best thing about collecting antique dishwashers is the people he meets with the same interest. So what are Haller’s future plans - definitely more space and possibly a museum someday to house his beloved collection. I always find it amusing and curious to meet someone who is passionate about what they love in life. Being with Haller was no different.
Despite my complaining about doing dishes by hand, I have grown attached to my retro cooking environment and somehow it has actually made me more domestic as I imagine former occupants cramming the old top loading electric sink with dishes fresh from a delicious family dinner. And with Haller’s blessing, I embrace my retro kitchen as a part of history – a part of history that makes some people dishwasher crazy.
Videos from Dishwasher Crazy
Dishwasher Crazy YouTube channel is found here: