OLD WOOD COOKSTOVE
I had been searching antique malls and flea markets for several years for an old wood cookstove when I found this beautiful gem completely by accident. We had hired a local Amish man to mill and lay oak flooring for us and while he was working he and I got to talking. I told him I had been looking for an antique wood burning cookstove and he told me he knew of a woman in a small town about ten miles away who had one in her garage covered up with blankets. He didn’t know if she would be willing to sell but he gave me directions to her home.
The next day I drove over and knocked on the door. I explained to her that I had been told she had an old stove in her garage and asked if she would be interested in selling it. She took me out and showed it to me and I was excited beyond belief. It was in mint condition, still had all the fire utensils with it and most importantly, the cast iron top was not bubbled up from coal fires.
She and I talked for a long time. She vetted me pretty hard! She wanted to know where I would put it. How I would care for it, if I planned to re-sell it to make a profit and so on. I assured her that I would cherish the piece and that it would be placed in my home as a focal point. I had no intentions of re-selling it or putting it out in the yard to use as a flower pot.
She had shared with me the story of the old stove. It had been a wedding gift to her parents many, many years ago. As a child she had watched as her mother had cooked and baked on it, preparing meals for her family of nine. Later she and her sisters had learned to cook on it. She told me of the cold, snowy nights when her mother would make a pallet on the floor next to it and the whole family would snuggled close together until dawn. She smiled as she had recalled how they had heated water in the side reservoir for bathing and washing dishes and how her mother had kept her father’s dinner in the warming section at the top on evenings when he worked the fields until well after dark.
I loved hearing her tell me these stories, connections to her past that now connected us. I spent the better part of the day with her. We talked of family and faith and food and before I left she agreed to sell me the stove. We agreed on the sum of five hundred dollars and I went home to round up several guys to help my husband move the heavy beast. Three days later it was sitting in my home.
Some years later I was saddened to read of her passing in the newspaper. She was ninety three years old. I had only met her one time. I had spent but three hours with her but we had formed a friendship in those hours, through those stories, through our laughter and shared memories.
It has been several years now since I bought the stove from her and I have, to this day, honored my promise to her. The old wood cookstove is not a flower pot in the yard. I did no re-sell it for a profit. It is still a focal point in my home and still very much cherished. The stories she shared and her stove are still very special to me.
I feel truly blessed she entrusted a piece of her family history with me. I hope to one day pass it on to my sweet granddaughter, Maddie, along with the stories that make it so special.