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Grammy’s Wood Stove

Submitted by: brookdale on January 18, 2012
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Grammy's Wood Stove

My maternal grandmother, Elzoda, cooked on a big black cast iron wood-burning kitchen stove all of her life on a farm in rural Maine. The stove was called Modern Clarion, with the name right on the oven door. It was purchased around 1915 when they were first married.


The …




My maternal grandmother, Elzoda, cooked on a big black cast iron wood-burning kitchen stove all of her life on a farm in rural Maine. The stove was called Modern Clarion, with the name right on the oven door. It was purchased around 1915 when they were first married.

The stove in 1941.


The stove in 1961.


Grandpa would bring in armloads of split hardwood and kindling for her every morning and evening and pile it in the woodbox beside the stove. When my sister and I were children, one of our jobs was to bring in the wood from the woodshed.

The stove had a big water reservoir on the right side to keep water hot. In later years they had a separate hot water heater with a coil that went around inside the wood stove and back to the water heater, and then was piped to the cast iron sink on a nearby wall.

There were little shelves on either side at the top where we dried our mittens, and a big oven with a temperature dial on the door. The stove had a little door on the left side so you could put in more wood without disturbing what was cooking on top. There were six round covers on top where the wood was put in, and you could take one off if you needed a really hot place to put the frypan. It would fit right inside the biggest hole.

Grammy would cook the most wonderful meals–Saturday night baked beans, little “graham gems” (muffins), johnnycake and brown bread, doughnuts and the best molasses cookies, lots of roasts and stews, and of course her famous buttermilk biscuits. Not to mention delicious cakes, pies and cookies of all kinds.


I have her cream tartar biscuit recipe that she wrote out for me.


My sister and I learned to cook on this stove, as did our mother and uncle before us. My repertoire was simply scrambled eggs in the cast iron spider (frypan), or muffins from the 4-H cookbook.

Sometimes Grandpa would make popcorn after supper, shaking the wire popcorn popper on top of the stove until it was popped full and bursting out the top. He would melt a chunk of Grammy’s homemade butter in a pan and pour it over the popcorn in a big bowl, shake a little salt on it, and have a treat “fit for a king” as he would say.

There was always a cat or two sleeping under the stove or on top of the woodbox. One was named “Cocktail” because he had a crook in his tail caused by not jumping down off the woodbox fast enough and getting his tail caught when the cover came down! Sometimes the cats would just narrowly miss being stepped on when Grammy was busy cooking a meal.

On cold winter evenings Grandpa would sit in front of the stove in the rocking chair, open the oven door and put his wool-stockinged feet inside to get them warm. I can just hear Grammy now, saying, “Clarence! You’ll burn your feet!” But he would just smile his slow Maine smile and go right ahead.

Oh, how I wish I had that big old black cookstove in my kitchen now, with my grandparents standing beside it!

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21 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 1-18

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories and the pictures!


  2. 1-18

    Thanks for the beautiful story! I am sure we all would love to have the old stove

  3. 1-18

    What a wonderful memory and tribute. Thank you for sharing.

  4. 1-18

    This stirred up a lot of memories for me too. My grandma had a wood stove similar to this one. The woodhouse was off the side porch and was almost as big as the house.

  5. 1-18

    Awww Brookdale, what a tribute to your grandmother . I also remember a black cookstove in our family kitchen as I grew up. Water resorvoir and all the compartments for keeping food warm. My mom and I used to see who could get the dishes done first in evening to get to sit in front of open oven door with our slippered feet up.
    I too wish I had the stove in our kitchen now especially on the cold mornings like we’ve had lately here in Maine.
    Mrs. Turkey

  6. 1-18

    Your story was a walk down memory lane for me. i remember Grandma had two warming ovens on the top of her woodstove. She always had a little clothes line in the corner of the kitchen behind the stove for drying the dish towels. I loved the smell of the hickory wood as it burned. Tears come to my eyes every time I smell hickory smoke. Thanks so much for a great story.

  7. 1-18

    Wow, this really brought back a lot of memories for me. My Grammy had a wood cook stove in her basement that we use to play restaurant with. She would always fire it up and we would just cook and play! We lived in Ohio but went to visit her in Maine every year after Christmas!
    Also hearing about the beans and brown bread so reminds me of my Mom who passed away in 1992. Although, I have cousins still in Maine I haven’t been able to visit for about 5 years, looks like it’s about time for a visit.
    Brookdale where are you in Maine? My Mom was from the York,Eliot area.

  8. 1-18

    What a wonderful story full of memories! Do you know where the stove is now or what happened to it?

  9. 1-18

    I loved this post! Thank you for sharing your memories and pictures with us. I miss my grandma’s too. I love cooking with their old pans and kitchen tools- very comforting.

  10. 1-18

    Great story. It makes me miss my wood cookstove.

  11. 1-18

    What a wonderful memory to share. Thank you.

  12. 1-18

    Sue, as far as I know the stove is still in the old farmhouse kitchen. The people that bought the farm still have it there I think…it was there I know in the 1980’s when I visited last. Hope it’s still there!

  13. 1-18

    How wonderful that at least you know it is cared for by somebody. Wouldn’t it be crazy happy if you could somehow acquire it back someday? It just seems such an important part of your family history. Stranger things have happened. Wishful thinking, perhaps? I love family stories like that!

  14. 1-18

    Thank you fro sharing your wonderful memories. i read it twice to soak up all that love and appreciation you have for your grandparents-and that stove. What an awesome stove!
    It intrigues me that a woman could spend her whole life cooking for generations on one stove. Its metaphoric, I suppose. But look at the pride in her face showing us all her pan of rolls! Gosh, I love that picture. And I send a thank you for sharing the cream of tartar roll recipe! I will be making those and thinking of that proud, proud woman and her fabulous stove!

  15. 1-19

    I loved this story! It is amazing what delicious food those ladies could provide using the most elementary equipment.

    Thank you for sharing such a warm tribute to your Grandma and her wood stove.

    Have you made the biscuits? It is a very different recipe.

  16. 1-19

    Thank you, everyone, for the lovely comments! I enjoyed bringing back the memories and finding the pics for the story.
    Glenda, yes, I have made Grammy’s biscuit recipe many, many times (not lately – I’ll have to make them again soon.)
    I did lower the heat to 450* (sometimes less) – her original recipe probably said things like “shortening the size of a walnut”, “flour to thicken”, and “bake in a hot oven until done”! She changed it for me to use in a modern oven.

  17. 1-19

    That is the kind of stove we are currently looking for. You photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing them with us.

  18. 1-19

    Thank you for such an enjoyable story , and to have those great photos to go with it !! It brought back so many memories for me ….I can picture my grandmother at her stove, now. with her apron on (always)
    She lived in Holden , Maine and was a wonderful cook.

  19. 1-19

    Seeing your grandma’s wood stove bring back memories for me of my mom cooking on her’s. I can’t remember where it came from, but I remember many of breakfast she would make the morning of the sleepover. Then the dinners and they seem to just taste better for some reason when they where cooked on the wood stove.

  20. 1-19

    What a cool story 🙂

  21. 1-19

    Love these old wood cook stoves…I have my Great Grandmothers wood cook stove in my kitchen, we don’t use it a lot, but it’s sure nice to have it!! 🙂

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