Fascinating True Stories From the Flip Side of History

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A Woman Had Some Run-Ins With Modern Appliances (1957)

On February 15, 1957, 34-year-old Virginia Schoen had just finished washing the dishes in her home at 13680 Osborne Street in the Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Suddenly, a spoon fell into the sink’s garbage disposal. “I reached for it and looked up at the window. I don’t know what happened.”

Luckily, the power was off, and she was uninjured. Yet, Virginia had a bigger problem: both of her hands were now stuck inside of the disposal.

Her 15-year-old daughter Karlene called the fire department to help get mom’s hands out of the trap.  Men from Rescue Unit 81 showed up and they first took the disposal apart, but her hands were still entrapped in an iron ring.  They drilled holes and finally sawed through the ring to release her hands.  Total time: an hour and a half.

Yet, that is not the end of the story.   Mrs. Schoen would have another run-in with modern appliances on September 4th

This time, she had been playing a game of dominoes with a friend as she ran her toes up and down the cool surface of the refrigerator door. For some unexplained reason, she had removed the handle from the door of the refrigerator several weeks prior and…

It’s best that we let Virginia Schoen explain what happened next: “I just found this hole with one toe and then I rested my other foot on top of the one hanging by the toe in the hole.” She continued, “Well, that toe went to sleep, the one in the hole, and I couldn’t get it out.”

Once again, the fire department was contacted. They knew exactly where to go this time, since it was the same Rescue Unit 81 that was sent to the scene.

The firemen removed the door, took it apart, and her big toe was freed after 40 minutes of appliance surgery.

Firemen work to free Virginia Schoen's toe from her refrigerator.
Firemen work to free Virginia Schoen’s big toe from her refrigerator. Image originally appeared on page 1 of the September 5, 1957 publication of the Citizen-News.
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