Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A List of Items in the kitchen of our Penrose home 1944-1949

As best as I can remember, here are the items that were in the kitchen of our Penrose home during the years I was there between 1944 and 1949:

  • Starting on the east side of the room to the right of the door to the living room: the clock shelf, with a succession of alarm clocks, some of which worked, some of which were cussed.  The clock on the clock shelf was the monitor of our lives, time for school, time for church, time for bed.

  • Below the clock shelf was the woodbox (blue?) with kindling and paper to start fires in the kitchen and in the living room.
  • In front of the woodbox was the coal bucket.
  • Somewhere in the vicinity was the shovel, alternatively called the coal shovel or the fire shovel, used for adding small lumps of coal to the stove fires or for scooping ashes out of the ash pits of the stoves to haul outside.
  • Next, moving to the right, the coal stove for both cooking and heating.  That meant trying not to cook much during the summer heat. As I remember, four removable lids were to the left on the top of the stove.  To the far right was the hot water reservoir.  Under the stove top was the oven.  A shelf was two or three feet above the stove top where the matches were kept.

  • On the south wall were two cupboards, one with doors (to the left of Liz who is drying dishes) and one open cupboard (to the right of Louise who is washing dishes).  Mother's meager collection of pots and pans were kept in the lower cupboard on the left.  Louise and Liz are using the two battered white enamel dishpans, used for bread making and everything else, but one for washing and one for rinsing at dish time.  To Louise's immediate right is the flour bin.  And then, in retrospect, the incredibly tiny fridge that served a family of eight people.  This is the only known photo of the south side of the kitchen.
  • On the west wall just around the corner from the fridge was the wash stand on which were kept two water buckets carried in from the pump 20 yards away from the kitchen.  Also on the wash stand was an enamel wash basin.  To the immediate left on the floor was the "slop" bucket, in which leftovers and waste were dumped.  I taught Steve the principles of centrifugal force in showing him how to twirl a full slop bucket (outside, of course), over one's head without spilling a drop. Mostly, we threw waste water out the west door a little way out in the yard.  A single dipper for drinking was in the water buckets.  And, yes, we all drank out of it.
  • Above the wash stand was the medicine cabinet.   Dad kept his HIS brand shaving soap and Gillette razor and blue blades there, which we replenished each Christmas for 25 cents a package from Fryer's Pharmacy in Powell.  Also, we had aspirin, but very little else.
  • To the right of the washstand, between the washstand and the west door, was the cream separator.  The buckets of milk were carried in from the cowbarn after milking and the milk was separated from the cream after saving out enough milk in bottles in the fridge for drinking.  The cream was dumped in the cream can which reposed behind the slop bucket, where it soured and got hauled to town once a week to sell to the creamery there, and often provided the only meager ready cash for buying the week's necessities.  The skim milk was carried back out to the barn and fed to the calves.  Dad always said the skim milk gave the calves pot bellies, so I was always reluctant to drink skim milk for many years because I thought the same fate awaited me.
  • To the right of the west door out to the yard and along the north wall was the table where eight people gathered to eat.  The clock shelf is on the wall in the background and you can see the stove back and shelf.


  • This concludes my inventory of the items in the very tiny kitchen in the Penrose home in which I spent my final five years at home before leaving for college.  A few years later, Dad added an electric stove and replaced the coal stoves with gas heat.  
  • Additions and corrections and stories about what went on in this kitchen are welcome.

11 comments:

Ann said...

Great memory. And, what was in the closet? Wringer washer, etc.. If I close my eyes the things that come to my memory are the smells, the warmth from the coal stove in the winter, the magic of the separator (remember I was little enough it seemed like magic), the smell of homemade bread, and the busy-ness of a very small space.
I also remember when Mother would dump a new bag of flour into the flour bin and how she worked so hard to keep the flour from flying everywhere.
What was stored on top of the cabinet on the left side where the dishes were stored?

Elizabeth said...

A few things - There was a poker along with the coal shovel - I think they were kept in the woodbox along with the wood. Also, on the stove, under the first two lids of the stove and the firebox was the ash container, which it was my job to keep emptied. Hate the smell of ashes!
The cupboard to the right did have a door - it just wasn't closed when you took that picture. Above the cupboard of the left, the cold cereal was stored (Sh-wheat, etc.), and the copper tray that Dad won in the Church contest with his marquetry picture of the handcart.
For more accurate setting of the kitchen, refer to Louise's book, page 105 for the schematic that she and I worked up. Remember, the mirror for Dad to shave by, and the rest of us to see our reflection hung on the east wall between the stove and the cabinet.
Didn't Mother have some little figurines that she kept on the carved shelf that one of the children (Ann or Judy?) gave her ?
Glad you are keeping on, jogging our memories when we have been in such a slump. Thank you for the reminders.
(Remember when summer was so hot and we put the door behind Dad's chair for a little ventilation? When the rain came, there was a big rush to get everything moved and the door closed.)

Elizabeth said...

And, P.S. The electric stove was added in the spring of 1953. I have a letter from Ann telling me all about how Grandma and Grandpa gave some money for the stove - and new linoleum. Who knew or knows?

Dwight said...

Hello? We're not finished here yet.

Steve Blood said...

I think that my life centered around the wash stand on the west wall and wood box on the east. I can remember being told that if I would fill the water buckets up more I wouldn't have to make so many trips. I remember that the wood box was always empty. It was really nice when Dad built the new coal shed though because then I didn't have to dig through snow to fill the bucket.

Judy said...

Well, well. I do believe it is my turn to add my two cents. The door between the kitchen and the living room was crucial.
1. It gave privacy to whoever was in the bath tub.
2. In the winter when the clothes froze on the clothesline, the long handled underwear got slung over the top of the door to get dry.
Other items:
3. Before we got an ironing board that stood alone, a single board was laid over the end of the table and ironing was done there. But where was it stored????

4. The red trimmed enamel pans used for dish washing, were scrubbed and used to mix bread. Yes, Mother's batch of bread required a very big bowl.
5. And this is gruesome but remember when Mother would take a piece of cardboard and scrap the goo off the sides of the slop bucket. I don't care about the laws of physics, I would NEVER twirl that full slop bucket. I would not risk it.

Elizabeth said...

We'll keep this dribbling along - wonder if we can nudge Louise? The ironing board was stored in the closet with the washing machine, and the coats, including the green parka. I remember putting the green parka on once and a mouse came jumping out. I probably screamed and jumped every which way. Mother was handy with the broom, which also was stored in that closet along with the dust mop, etc. Judy, are you going to put the bit about cleaning out the slop bucket in your story?

Judy said...

Probably not. Here was sufficient.

Louise Blood said...

Ok, I'm nudged. This little kitchen served as bathroom and laundry room also, so it was a busy place and served our family well. I have fond memories of cleaning out the cupboard above the frig because of the goblets that were safely stored on a top shelf. As to the slop bucket, I guess we didn't have a better name for it, it was also used for spitting into when brushing teeth in the winter. I had an unfortunate accident when I was draining a kettle of cooked macaroni and the macaroni slipped out with the water, and there went supper. I was upset, but Mother quietly put on another kettle of water to boil.

Ann said...

Wouldn't it have been grand if we had known the term "compost bucket". It would have been much more palatable!
Dwight's post also suggests we talk about what went on in the kitchen/multipurpose room. Here are some of my imperfect memories. Since this is how I remember it, then this is how it must have been for me.
Saturdays were the most amazing. After breakfast was cleaned up, Mother would pull out the wringer washing machine from the closet, bring in the bench stand from outside, along with the tub that hung on the coal shed. It was used for rinsing the clothes in, once they were done agitating in the tub of the wringer washer.

I was considered "too little" to be of much help, but I can remember going out to "help" hang the wet clothes on the clothes line. My job was to hand the wet clothes to the official hanger-upper.

When the laundry was washed and all hung out to dry, the washer went back into the closet and the tub went temporarily back outside. Then there was bread to make and sometimes something special to bake for Sunday.

Cleaning supplies were kept in the kitchen closet and so we would drag (that is how I felt about that job) out the broom, dustpan, dust clothes and dust mop and clean the house. In my memory that was an every Saturday occurrence.

Then, when the day was winding down, the tub that had been previously used for rinsing the clean clothes was brought back into the kitchen. The fire in the coal stove was stoked which made the room toasty warm (most of the time), doors were closed, water was heated in both the water reservoir in the stove, as well as the tea kettle and we would start the round of Saturday night baths. The water got kind of thick as we got towards the end of 8 people, but I remember the water getting changed midway through, which probably meant either the tub was taken outside and dumped and then brought back in for round 2, or some of the water was scooped out using a bucket and then fresh, clean water was added to the tub. When the last bath was taken, Mother, who by then must have been absolutely exhausted, would get down on her hands and knees and, using the bath water, scrub the old linoleum kitchen floor. Regardless of our circumstances, she worked really hard to keep our home clean, as well as our family.

As to Elizabeth's comment about the electric stove, in my memory that was a magical time. I hadn't heard any discussion about what was going on until it happened. The stove was from the Home Ec. building at the high school. They were replacing the "old stoves" with a newer model and were selling the old ones for what must have been a good deal. And moving out of the coal stove meant the well worn linoleum would have to be replaced. I can remember the smell of the glue Dad used to lay down the new flooring, as well as the magic that happened when the wiring was done for the electric stove and it was plugged in. There were buttons on the stove that you pushed for the specific heat you needed on each burner. The buttons lite up in colors, which was "awesome". The clock had a timer on it that worked beautifully until it was struck by lightening. I can't remember who it was, but someone was standing washing dishes when the lightening struck, coming through the kitchen window and hitting the clock. It had a burned mark on it which served as a constant reminder of that event.

Dwight said...

Then there was the grocery shopping list which, as I remember was on the wall between the stove and the cabinets. Forever after, I have written "sh wheat" for shredded wheat, "c flakes" for corn flakes, and "br sug" for brown sugar. We bought few groceries. When the frozen food locker plant opened in Powell, that changed our meat availability significantly, since we never had a freezer at home, only a very small fridge while I was still there.