Cookstove column revives warm memories for readers

Jerry Apps
Like an old friend, our woodburning cookstove helps keep memories alive.

My recent article about the old woodburning cookstove triggered many memories of these old stoves beyond cooking meals and baking bread. During the long, cold winter months, readers remembered that those old stoves had multiple uses. A couple readers commented that they knew of little pre-mature babies placed in a cookstove’s oven to keep them warm. This was a new and great story for me.

When we got electricity on the home farm in 1947, my mother decided that maybe she should look at one of those new, modern at the time, combination woodburning and bottled gas ranges, similar to the one pictured above. 

Now she could cook during the hot days of summer without starting the woodburning side of the stove, but cook on the bottled gas side. In winter she used the wood burning side of the stove, as it not only did the cooking and baking but warmed the kitchen.

When my wife and I bought Roshara in 1966, the farm we own now, we discussed what kind of a cookstove we should buy. We had electricity, but no indoor plumbing in the old granary that we were working hard to make livable.

I learned about a used combination wood and gas burning cookstove, the one pictured above. It had been used for maybe 20 years. We bought it for $40.00. My dad thought it was an enormous price to pay for a used cookstove. It took five of us to carry it into the cabin—one cast-iron heavy beast—but oh, such a good stove.

It works as well today as it did 56 years ago. It warms our kitchen, and cooks our meals. It provides wonderful memories of when I was a kid, doing my home work by the old woodburning stove.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Like an old friend, our woodburning cookstove helps keep memories alive.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to