One of the many chores of young children in the olden days was to keep a plentiful supply of fuel for the wood-burning, Cook Stove; in the “wood box” that was located near the stove.
Bear in mind that this chore was necessary winter and summer. Since the firebox in the Cook Stove was quite a bit smaller, (it was hard work to ‘whittle the fuel down’). Stove wood was split from pine logs into thin strips to approximate 3 X 12 inches.
One reason for use of the stove during the summer months was for heating water. The water reservoir was attached to the stove on the extreme right side and warmed only when the stove was fired.
The center door of this monster, was where all the baking was done and the two doors at the top were ‘the warming closets.’. Leftovers from the noon meal, “dinner”, was placed inside to be warmed by the built-up heat from the flue, (vent pipe) if desired.
Ashes were removed from a small door underneath the firebox and was usually done by an adult. There were generally two round lids, called, (eyes); above the firebox and two above the oven. Removing or replacing these eyes could regulate the heat if needed. Note: A Cast iron pan was placed over an open “eye” to prevent smoking when this unit was used.
If there was a supplemental heater in the huge kitchen, it required larger logs, therefore, this job was meted out to older family members. These logs were usually stacked on the porch just outside the doorway for convenience; as well as to prevent loss of heat from the open door; while stoking the heater.
During the summer months when the fireplace was not used, “flatirons” were heated on the cook stove for use after wash day. They could be heated while a meal was cooking or water was heating.
Most farm families enjoyed a hot breakfast; and a hot dinner; (at the noon hour); but supper was generally cold leftovers; or could be, warmed in the warming closets if the stove was in use.
Eating a cold supper, was chosen by many families because it allowed the house to cool at night during the hot summer months. “”No Air-Conditioning; remember?”)
I can still recall the afternoon admonishment to “Be sure to tote in enough Stove Wood and don’t forget the ‘Kindling;” (Corn-cobs, soaked in kerosene).
Also: “The memory that still causes my mouth to water; that even ‘thinking about’ ‘sopping’ molasses with hot Biscuits; baked in the Wood – Stove early every morning.
It just couldn’t get any better than this; could it?