“I guess I’m a creature of saving,” Pullen said. “When I was born, we’d just come off the Great Depression. We learned to save.”
The same respect she had for saving when she was younger followed the Cleveland native into her adult years when she got married. She eventually settled into a job as a dental assistant, and her husband sold used cars. They built a home in town and had three children. Now, as a widow with three grown children who work in fields like automotive sales and photography, she still calls the house she built with her husband 56 years ago home.
The contents of that home are full of memories, but many of her possessions also sit in her home as evidence of her thriftiness over the years. The appliances in her kitchen are 40 years old.
Pullen keeps all her receipts organized in a book in her kitchen in case she ever needs to replace the Whirlpool refrigerator, oven, ventilation hood or cooktop. She has not needed to replace them since she bought them in 1972 from a now-closed store on South Lee Highway called Lloyd’s TV and Appliance.
Around the time they bought the appliances, the Pullens had their second of three children and were having to make room for baby formula bottles in a refrigerator that was proving to be much too small for the family. They didn’t know much about appliances then, so they trusted the opinion of a friend who owned Lloyd’s to help them pick a brand to try.
“Back then, they didn’t have as many brands,” Pullen said. “It was easier to choose.”
Pullen said she has had to have the appliances repaired from time to time but that the repairman always told her not to buy new appliances because the old ones were holding up so well. She said he claimed the newer appliances were just not of the same quality.
In 1972, $1,812.20 bought six appliances — an oven, a cooktop, a ventilation hood, a refrigerator, a washer and a dryer — and covered the cost of their installations.
Much has changed since the Pullens built their home on Old 25th Street in 1956. As Cleveland has grown, so has the area surrounding Pullen’s yard.
When the couple moved there, they were “in the country,” Pullen said, referring to her neighborhood.
Old 25th Street got the title of “old” when 25th Street was built to accommodate more traffic. More and more homes and businesses started cropping up nearby, which brought more and more people to that side of town.
Some of Cleveland’s busiest streets, including Ocoee and Keith Streets, intersect 25th Street.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Pullen has watched the world change around her. What once was a quiet neighborhood is now near the edge of one of Cleveland’s busiest roads.
Sometimes, she said, it seems like her neighborhood and the homes in it are the only things that have not changed as drastically as the rest of the area.
Mrs. Pullen, who has been retired for several years, enjoys being on bowling league teams in Cleveland and Chattanooga, crafting jewelry and working in her backyard garden, where the traffic of 25th Street can be heard every day. In her home, the pace is slower than that of the cars speeding outside the partition that separates Old 25th Street from its newer namesake. Her home and appliances have proven reliable, even though many other changes have had to be made in the area.
“I’ve gotten good service out of it,” Pullen said, speaking of her refrigerator as she pulled its door open. “If I bought another, it’d be a Whirlpool,” she said.
After all the changes that have grown up around her neighborhood, she said she appreciates the fact that at least her home and appliances have remained reliable.