An old past October/November issue of Reminisce Magazine yielded a plethora of stuff for this post. The caption on the picture, as I recall, was Grandma’s Kitchen. As I studied that magazine cover, I was transported back in time to Mama (Grandma) Titus’ kitchen. Standing before me next to the wall, was her old coal fired kitchen range with a teapot simmering, and a couple of flatt-irons heating for the day’s ironing. Also sitting atop that stove were a couple loaves of bread fresh out of the oven and a pot of something—soup, or maybe stew, simmering for her and PaPa Titus’ evening supper.
In my imaginary journey back to Mama Titus’ kitchen I saw her old ironing board with a stack of freshly ironed towels and tablecloths, and the sprinkler bottle she used for sprinkling the clothes. My mind’s eye then moved to the kitchen table where I saw a flour sifter and a blender for cutting shortening into pie crusts; I saw a rolling pin laying atop a thinly rolled crust that reminded me of one of her delicious melt in your mouth pies. Pictured on that table, also, were baskets loaded with a colorful array of fresh fruits that would go into those pies. Mama Titus was a fabulous baker. I have never tasted pies to quite equal hers, nor her homemade bread; it was scrumptious—I especially savored her bread crusts. Then to fulfill my journey back to Grandma’s kitchen, I saw the old water bucket on the cabinet with the dipper hanging on the wall.
Moving on through my perusal of the Reminisce Magazine, I came across a page advertising an assortment of kitchen items in 1943. A breadbox that sat on the cabinet—remember those? The price was $2.89. Flour sifters ranging in price from 24 cents up to 89 cents. There were three models of refrigerators from $24.95 to $47.85. Egg beaters—two different models—23 cents and 49 cents. There was a free standing broom closet priced at $6.69. It would appear from looking at those prices, that prices today are a bit high; but surprisingly enough, given the fact that the 1943 dollar was worth about twenty or more of today’s dollars, maybe things weren’t all that much cheaper in perspective. Let’s take the $48.00 refrigerator, for instance. Multiply that by 20, and we come up with a price equivalent to 960 of today’s dollars. If a refrigerator with the exact same features as the one offered in 1943 was available today, maybe it still could be bought for $960.00.
Those refrigerators put me in mind of the days when Dad first broke out the land on his dry farm about twenty miles north of Soda Springs. We were virtually pioneers of sorts. The year was 1945. I was ten years old. Roads in those days out in that part of the county were somewhat primitive. In many instances they were not much more than a single lane carved out of the terrain by a road grader. No barrow pits or fill; just a lane to let you know where you were supposed to drive. In some instances, we drove down through the swales and over the top of rocks buried in the road.
Travel on those roads barely allowed speeds in excess of twenty miles per hour, so a commute to town from the farm every night was out of the question. Dad had a small cabin built at a lumberyard in town, and a hired man and I pulled it on skids the twenty miles from town to the farm with a TD14 crawler tractor. Dad’s youngest brother had just bought this tractor new, and they thought pulling this cabin to the farm would be a good way to put a few hours on it to help break the engine in before putting it to work on the heavy load of pulling a breaking plow. They bought the land together with plans to run it separately, but decided to pool their resources while breaking it out of sagebrush. An International TD-14 Crawler was the counter-part competitor to a Caterpillar D-6. If memory serves me, the price was under 4,000, 1945 dollars. Keeping things in perspective, that would figure to be about 80,000 of today’s dollars for an equivalent crawler tractor, if one were available.
There were no utilities out in that part of the world at that time—still aren’t as a matter of fact(but the roads are much improved). We used kerosene lamps or Coleman gas lanterns for light, and a coal range for cooking. Dad did manage to locate a kerosene refrigerator, however, so we did have that one modern convenience. He was not an engineer, nor am I, and we both marveled at how you could build a fire in the bottom of this refrigerator and freeze ice cubes in the top. I still marvel at that to this day.
Now I’d like to talk a little bit about by new book coming out next month entitled LouIsa—Iron Dove Of the Frontier. Move on up to the “In the Works.” page, or the “Books” page and read more about her. It’s a Western novel loosely based on the life of Louisa Houston Earp, Sam Houston’s quarter Cherokee granddaughter. She is an interesting character. I think you’ll like her. You can also read a few excerpts from the book while you’re there. Enjoy.