Monday, November 30, 2009

Old Kitchen

This week we will explore old kitchens from days gone by. Today's picture was taken in 1917. I see a stove back there, but no refrigerator. I wonder when electric refrigerators gained widespread use? I know that earlier there were "ice boxes" which kept things cold, but you had to keep adding blocks of ice to them.

16 comments:

  1. I have to say that this promises to be my favorite week ever! Kitchens... and old ones at that.. what could be more interesting? To me.

    You know I once visited a home- actually we were in the market for a new home and it was one of the listings the realtor showed us. Anyway, it had an entire "ice room." All along one wall were metal lined cupboards, which had openings to the outside. Apparently the ice man would come and put blocks of ice into these openings, which would then cool the items placed in the cupboards. It was ingenious... actually that house was filled with all sorts of similar "conveniences" that had miraculously survived through the years. The attic had a huge water tank, which could be heated I believe. Having the water come from the attic provided added water pressure... or at least I think that was the idea behind it. Beautiful home, but totally unsuited to our young and growing family. Anyhoo...looking forward to the pics this week!

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  2. Great topic! I've seen other ice rooms that were dug under ground, like a mini-basement; the ice plus being underground would keep things cold.

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  3. 'I know that earlier there were "ice boxes" which kept things cold, but you had to keep adding blocks of ice to them'

    ... So where did those blocks of ice come from then?

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  4. Must have been a gas stove. There appears to be a gas pipe next to the door. What is that box next to the stove with the Acorn label? It appears to have an upper and lower compartment. Ice box perhaps?

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  5. I have a lot house plans from the 1920s, and they all include space for an "ice box". Many were placed against an outer wall, with a door so they could be "iced" from the outside, without the iceman coming into the house. An electric refrigerator cost $250 in 1932 - an absolutely astounding amount of money for the time. (My grandfather worked as a night watchman during the Depression and made $17 *every other week*!)

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  6. We got our first refrigerator in 1947. We lived in a rural community and a GE salesman came around with a load of small refrigerators. My parents made monthly payments on it.
    The stove in the pic could have used oil. The box on the end is the oven. The oil tank is on the other end.

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  7. We had an elderly neighbor who used an ice box up until she passed away around 1960. The ice man said she was the last person in town to have an ice box. They delivered to her as a courtesy to a longtime customer and to an elder.

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  8. The first job my father had was delivering ice to people's homes. That would have been around '39.

    Dan

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  9. The kitchen in this photo is very similar the kitchen in my house, which I am in the process of replacing.

    This week’s topic is especially timely for me as we are currently in the middle of a major kitchen remodel. My house was built in 1932, and I purchased it with the original kitchen (believe it or not). It was in good condition, but very outdated (obviously). There was almost no counter space; the counters were low and narrow; there’s no dishwasher (nor is there room for one); and the stove was just standing against one wall with no cabinets or counters around it. Also, the refrigerator was in an alcove in the back hall that could be shut off with doors so the iceman could come in and deliver ice, as the house originally had an ice box.

    Old houses have a lot of charm, and I lived with that old kitchen it for years; but now it has to come out as we plan to sell the house. We had to take down walls and move and redo all the plumbing and electrical. It’s a huge, huge job, and it’s been going on for about a month with no end in sight. It will be beautiful when it’s done, but in some ways I’ll miss that old 1930s kitchen.

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  10. To LogicalError:
    Ice was sawed in blocks from frozen lakes in the winter & stored in sawdust for the rest of the year. There were natural ice caves along the Oregon Trail.

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  11. We had an Iceman until 1945, As a youngster we would follow the Ice truck down the street and pick up the chips of Ice in the Summer...A 50# block of Ice cost 15cents, delivery was 6 days a week, The Ice wagon was drawn by a Horse until 1938.

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  12. There is a great B movie from the early 30's where the victim was murdered with poisoned gin. The victim kept gin in the ice box, which had an opening to the outside for the ice man. The murderer used ice man's access door to switch the gin for a poisoned bottle of gin.
    I enjoy the topic this week - I was actually hoping PJM would do something on old family kitchens. I was recently thinking of my grandmother's houses when I was a kid. She lived at a winery and a vineyard in large farmhouses. One had a large pantry and it seemed luxurious and spacious to me. There was also a stone dairy next to the house for storing the milk products. It was full of spiders but it was cool on the hottest days - so pleasant! In their heyday, these three places were working ranches, dairies, vineyards and wineries. Some of the family still operates vineyards, but the wineries were sold and no one ranches anymore. I have always lived in old houses with old kitchens and no dishwashers. I guess I don't know what I am missing with the nice modern touches. (I figured with an good fridge and a microwave, I was modern enough ;-)
    I have an old blue enamel wood stove and oven with a hot water well - I'm not using it, but want to set it up some day.

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  13. I lived in a 1919 home for several years. The kitchen pantry had a concrete floor with a hole in the middle, and the ceiling also had a hole. While they had been boarded up by the point that I lived there, they were used as a natural cooling system. Air flowed from under the house up through the floor and then out the top. One of many clever ways to keep food chilled in the pre-fridge days.

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  14. Until 1947 when my parents built a house, we lived in a converted trailer that had an icebox and a kerosene stove for cooking. The stove had a glass bottle for the fuel much like the old water dispensers that held the upside down bottles. it was always a hold your breath time when the bottles were changed. Also, the icebox kept the ice in the lower compartment and the food in the top compartment. Both compartments had only front opening doors. I now think that the compartments should have been reversed as the cold air would have sunk down to the lower compartment. Oh well, too late now.

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  15. Behind my parent's house a short ways are a couple of ice ponds that were constructed for the purpose of creating ice. It was sawn up and stored in ice houses whose primary insulation was sawdust. As a kid in the 60's I remembered a couple of the buildings were still barely standing but have since burned down.

    For a brief time in the 1850-1870's and 1880's Maine and parts of New England shipped ice around the world.

    This all reminds me I have an old oak icebox from my grandmother's in the basement that I have to restore one of these days...

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  16. The Acorn unit is a gas stove,the oven was on the right, (this one looks like it has two stacked on on top of the other). The gas burners for the stove are on the left.

    The stove was quite popular in the 20's, and was even mentioned in an old World Book Encylopedia from 1970 which we had.

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