Letters to the Editor from the Fall 2017 Issue

Readers talk about old-fashioned stoves, and using Capper's Farmer magazine as a teaching tool for the classroom.

| Fall 2017

  • Cover illustration from the Capper's Farmer Winter 2017 issue.
    Illustration by Wayne Stroot

Cover Illustration Evokes Memories

The cover illustration (Winter 2017) of the farm cookstove with the water kettle on the top sending welcome steam into the kitchen and house brings back memories for those of us who used this type of heating and cooking appliance. The coffee grinder and bag of coffee beans on the shelf were staples in those days, and instills the importance that the kitchen was the main room of households before digital refrigerators, robot vacuum cleaners, and electric washers and dryers.

The cookstove provided warmth in the winter for calves that were born in a snowstorm and were suffering from the effects of frostbite. The farmer would bring those babies into the kitchen, and the wife would wrap them in an old blanket and lay them behind the stove to keep warm and slowly thaw out before returning them to their mamas. The cookstove was the rapid dryer of bygone era for drying wet outer clothing from chore time, and for drying the weekly laundry on the fold-up laundry rack. Sometimes the sheets, made from unbleached muslin, were hung outdoors in the wintertime to freeze dry and then brought indoors to finishing drying on the laundry rack.

The cookstove was connected to the chimney by a set of stove pipes with an elegant bend in the top pipe to connect the opening in the chimney, and the delightful smell of burning wood would perfume the outdoors. These old cookstoves were the baking oven of the household, as well as the water-heating reservoir for washing dishes and for bathing in the galvanized wash tub. This hot water was soothing to the body in the depths of blizzards, similar to the popular spas of today.

The cookstove oven was the custodian of the most delicious meals and desserts. The meats were moist, and the skillet-fried or baked chicken has no rivals of today.

Favorite desserts made in the baking oven were angel food cakes, burnt sugar cakes, white layered cakes, pies of many flavors, and homemade bread and rolls. Cinnamon rolls sent many a happy farmer out into the cold weather to gather in the autumn crops and root vegetables to be used as staples during the cold winter months.

Cookstoves tell a bygone era of rural American history like no other household appliance of today.

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