Dakota Datebook


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Many can remember the old parlor stove that warmed the house on a wintery day, emitting the sweet smell of burning wood which was used to get the fire going. It was the place to congregate after reluctantly crawling out of a warm, cozy bed and stepping onto the cold, hardwood floor. Once the wood fire was blazing, chunks of coal were added to sustain the heat. In the predawn darkness, the dancing flames created a wide display on the walls as the light flickered through the small mica windows located on the door of the stove.

Once electricity arrived in the home, circulating hot water or more efficient coal stokers with fans were able to conduct the heat to remote corners of the house. But before that, the cast iron stoves, often huge, were an integral part of daily life.

The centrally located parlor stove and accompanying wood cook stove were essential elements in any home. Often the large coal stoves were located in the basement and a grate in the center of the floor dispersed the warm air upward. Many an older child can recall the chore of removing the clinkers from the bottom of the pot or filling the coal bucket the night before to ensure a supply of dry coal.

On this date in 1920, it was revealed that a young lady of Foster County, when but a two or three year old girl, scurried down the stairs in her little nightie and huddled near the stove to warm her little, pink fingers. Having accomplished that she then turned and sat on the “nickel foot rail” but quickly found that uncomfortably hot. Arising, she soon developed blisters which were cared for over the next week. Once the scars had healed it was noted that she had sat on the embossed trademark name of the stove which was now stamped across her tender flesh. As painful as the branding was, it could have been worse, for at the time there were stoves with names like Acme, Universal, Pratt or even Kalamazoo, but fortunately, stenciled across the little posterior was the delightful name of the stove… “Home Comfort.”

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis

Benson County Farmers Press November 19, 1920 page 1

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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