Until I was ten years old, everything we ate was cooked on a wood stove like the one above. We had a monster of a cookstove in our kitchen. It had a reservoir on the side for hot water, and closed compartments on top for keeping food warm. My mother cooked everything… from breads, biscuits, pies and meat… on that old stove.
With twelve foot ceilings in that old house it also helped keep us warm in winter. Of course it was hot as hell in the summer. But that’s all we had. The smell of bread baking when you got up at the crack of dawn, or a New England pot roast in the oven along with the smell of wood heat, is something I can clearly remember to this day. The food seemed to taste so much better. And it probably did.
I can still see my sisters dipping into the reservoir for hot water to do the dishes. We lacked most of the modern conveniences growing up. We were very poor and there were a lot of us.
We had a cast iron sink in the kitchen with only cold running water. If we wanted to do the laundry or – perish the thought – take a bath, we heated water on the stove.
My mother and sisters washed clothes in an old copper washer with a hand cranked wringer, and the clothes were hung outside to dry.
We ironed all of our clothes with old flat-irons that were set on the stove to get hot. I remember the different sized irons. There was no such thing as permanent press clothing in those days.
Daily living was lots of hard work, but it was a good life. It makes me apprecate what we have today, even as I regret what we’ve lost.