“The kitchen is the heart of every home, for the most part. It evokes memories of your family history.”
For generations the kitchen was the heart of the home, the place families gathered, and our house was no exception. When I found this picture from the seventies it flooded all my senses.Take a good look at it and I will try to add the details, so you will feel you are sitting on the cot or at the table. Have you noticed that Mom liked green paint…a lot?
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Let’s begin with the electrical meter located on the back wall of the kitchen. The meter man had to come inside to read the meter which cramped Mom’s style a bit because she liked to stay in her nightgown as long as possible. The house had a 20-amp service suitable for running light bulbs — not appliances, especially those with elements. If we plugged in the toaster and kettle at the same time, it would blow the fuse. Mom and Dad put in bigger and bigger fuses that could have caused an electrical fire…but it didn’t.
The kitchen had two outlets located side by side behind the stove. You can imagine how annoying that was. For all intents and purposes, the house was wired with extension cords running everywhere that could have caused an electrical fire…but they didn’t.
FAWCETT, ENTERPRISE, McCLARY, or ELMIRA COOKSTOVE
Mom adored her Enterprise wood stove with a Kemac oil burner. On the left you can see the copper oil line that brought fuel from the barrel outside and up through the floor to the stove’s carburetor. Watching Dad clearing the oil line and adjusting the carburetor was quite an adventure. Every hair on his head pointed in a different direction and the expression on his face suggested…run for your life. While Dad didn’t swear, he used his strongest words: lousy stove, cursed stove, good-for-nothing stove, starve gutted stove. The atmosphere was rather tense. Mom took great pride in her shiny stove top which she cleaned and polished with emery paper every day. I must admit I never mastered the skill.
Emery paper is a type of abrasive paper or sandpaper, that can be used to abrade (remove material from) surfaces or mechanically finish a surface. Operations include deburring, polishing, paint removal, corrosion removal, sizing, etc.
A large, shiny, fingerprint free kettle for heating water adorned the stove.The stove top would be filled with pots cooking potatoes and vegetables and the meat would be in the oven. For reasons unknown to man, Mom only wanted two or three pots on the stove. If there were more, the stovetop looked cluttered and Mom always remarked, “There now, it looks like Mrs. Gaetz’s stove, pots everywhere.” The drawer below the oven held blackened pans, muffin tins and cookie sheets and the emery paper.
CAN YOU FIND THE HOT WATER TANK?
It is behind the stove with doeskin shirts drying on it. It was no ordinary hot water tank — not electric and had no element. Instead, pipes ran from the tank into the stove to heat the water which was great in the winter when we were burning wood. Summer, however, was a different story. We only had hot water if the stove was hot.
A little green shelf on the wall was a fixture for as long as I can remember. It held a bown bean jar stuffed with receipts, matches, box of church tithe envelopes along with a few other things.
A metal shelf sat behind the right hand side of the stove. An old drop side toaster, not pop-up, sat on the top and, yes, we ate a great deal of burnt toast. The middle shelf held the Eaton’s and Sears catalogues and a Rand McNally atlas and Dad’s socks filled the bottom shelf.
OH, NO, IT’S WINTER…AGAIN
Winter brought big changes. The television was moved from the living room to the kitchen. Why? Because it was the only warm room in the house. It sat where Edsel is sitting. Hockey Night in Canada was the big event as we watched the game and raided the cupboard and fridge during the commercials.
Mom’s beloved stove stood in the kitchen until we began renovating in 2014. By that time, the wall between the fire box and the oven had burned through and could no longer be used. Electric and gas ranges sit in most Lockeport area kitchens today, but I have a sneaking suspicion a few women have not parted with their Kemacs. If only, those Kemacs could talk.
“In the childhood memories of every good cook, there’s a large kitchen, a warm stove,
a simmering pot and a mom.”