Fire is crackling in the woodstove this morning. This old house is blessed with a fine large square woodstove. It is a comfort on winter days when cold creeps in like smoke around windows and doors. We love to open a door and watch the orange flames until the fire grows so we have to close the doors. Then the stove radiates heat to our whole house and we sit nearby or take spare minutes to stand in front of it and absorb the heat.
I suppose it is piece of yesteryear, in these modern times of central heat systems with thermostats that keep houses evenly toasty. Still , it is a benefit to us, the only cost being the labor of cutting and splitting wood , hauling the wood in, and cleaning the hearth of ashes.
This is not the first stove this old house has known. Out in the barn we found an potbellied stove that may have once heated the Evening Star School. The Evening Star was built in the early 1900’s by homesteaders who claimed acreage along what is now Highway 52, near Morris, Oklahoma. When a new brick school was erected in 1930, the old frame building was moved to this land and converted into a home. Old timers say the building was hoisted onto wagons and pulled by oxen teams to this spot. Later, several additions and siding created the house we now know.
I had hoped to fill the old stove with soil and plant strawberries and flowers in it and set it on the porch. The stove , produced in 1906 at a foundry in Kansas City, might be the one which was ordered by the school board’s building committee to heat the newly built schoolhouse. It was shipped by train to Okmulgee where a farmer waited at the depot to load it into his wagon. He hauled it to the schoolhouse to be installed in the center of the classroom in time for the winter session.
I imagine the school teacher arriving early in the morning to start a fire and soon afterwards, students arriving , hanging their hats and coats on hooks along the walls and coming to warm their cold selves by the stove. I imagine boys carrying in armloads of firewood to keep the fire going all day. The teacher may have heated water in a kettle atop the stove for warming cups of tea or coffee or simmered a kettle of beans for lunch or even baked potatoes in the coals.
My woodstove, though you may be messy and troublesome, I thank God for the blessing of comfort you add to my home.