Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Old Farm Stove

To: Mike Williscraft
       Assoc. Publisher NIAGARA  THIS WEEK

`           When I came home today my wife said,” Jim I think you might like to read  Mike Williscraft’s article about his nearly 99 year old grandmother who is still living in the home she was born in and her new stove.”
            I said, “Yes I would” I always like to read the articles he writes about where he grew up in the town of Clinton. Ontario.
            I grew up on a farm on the 12th concession of Elma Township, about 5 miles from Atwood Ontario. His story reminded me of the way things were then. I cannot remember when my grandmother did not live with our family. She was a lovely little woman who probably always weighed less than 100 pounds. She helped out a lot with the housework and raising us kids. She read us stories and always tucked us in bed at night.
            I had an aunt too, she was actually my mom’s aunt but we called her Aunt Min and she lived to be 102.She lived in a little house in Listowel when I first knew her and she was probably over 70 then, but she never seemed to change at all in all the years I knew her. Another lady lived with her. Aunt Min was slightly stooped, white haired, wore thick round wire framed glasses and was hard of hearing. In her front room was an old grandfather’s clock that slowly ticked away the hours. It had been brought over from Scotland by the family. As a young women Aunt Min had lived in British Columbia with her husband but when he died in an accident she came back to the family farm beside us with her young son Basil Jolly.Basil was killed in the First World War at the age of 19. The family farm had been taken out from the Crown in 1854.I remember a solid wooden clapboard house with large fur trees on both sides of the long laneway. The house itself was built around the earlier log cabin and was a solid and cozy building.
            The barn on the farm where mother was born was built in 1898 and the white brick two story, 3 bedroom house without any closets in the rooms was built in 1900.
            The farm where I grew up was just two farms down the road.
            I remember 1950 the year your grandmother got her new stove. I thought we must have become rich. Dad traded our 1935 Chevrolet sedan and bought a new Pontiac, a new refrigerator and a new combination electric and wood stove. It was called a Findlay and replaced our former wood stove which had water tanks on the one side where we dipped all our hot water into a pail and took the hot water to the washroom to wash with. We had just gotten the hydro 6 years earlier and now had running water to replace our hand pump.
            When dad came into the house in the evening after winter chores he would always sit in front of the wood stove with his woollen sock feet up on the open oven door and read his newspaper while smoking his pipe sitting in his favorite wooden rocking chair.
            Grandma had a rocking chair which sat by the window and she would sit  rocking in it for hours while knitting our woollen socks, mitts ,scarfs and making patchwork quilts.
            This combination electric and wood stove worked well for years but it too had some electrical problems. After getting it fixed once mother had to turn the oven to off to get it to come on. One of the top burners would only give half the heat but we didn’t seem to need them all anyway.—the farm women were resourceful.
            Dad died when mother was 78 and she continued living on the farm by herself until moving into a retirement home in Listowel at the age of 85.
            We kept the farm as our summer cottage and didn’t change a thing. The same wallpaper was on the rooms, the old linoleum was on the floors, the same old sink was in the pantry, and our trusty old Findlay stove of 1950 was in the kitchen. It was still working well when we sold the farm in 1998.

            Your article Mike brought back many memories. Thanks for writing it.
            I may send these memories along to my grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

            I have lived in Grimsby with my wife Pamela and family since 1969.


Jim Love
Written Friday January 12, 2007

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