Originally printed in the Observer & Eccentric Newspaper
In my beginning years of fixing appliances I spent some time in England staying in a Flat in downtown London. I was impressed by an AGA kitchen range which provided constant heat using oil as a fuel and venting to the outside. In the past 80 years it still proves to be a popular product used by thousands of the Queen’s subjects. Joe Henderson, a voice of many years in the appliance industry tells me they were also a high end range sold in this country some 50 years ago. My darling Valorie also tells me she has seen them in magazines on kitchen designs etc. The concept of this range makes me just slightly curious but not enough to purchase one. Even though this range can now be programmed by your cell phone I still can’t picture myself explaining to our neighbors why black smoke is coming out of a pipe on the side of our house. Sometimes I think I am such an old fashioned guy and love the way things once were. On my recent yearly fishing trip to the wilds of Northern Canada such became the case. My friends and I left early in the morning knowing full well that the largest forest fire in Canada was burning in close proximity to our fishing cabin. The fire was 100 miles long and 3 miles wide and was being fueled by 40 mph winds with no rain or calm weather in sight. All main highways were closed and would be for 10 to 14 days leaving just a bush road open to those either crazy enough or with plain old courage, to make the journey. We arrived at the fishing lodge and set up in our cabin which had no electricity because the power lines had been consumed by the forest fire. The portable generators were only big enough to supply the water pumps so we had running water and we used propane gas lanterns and candles just like the old days. We were now set for 7 days of fishing and adventure and hopefully would not be evacuated from our warm and heavenly spot.
My responsibility on these fishing trips is to wake up the guys at 5:30 and make a pot of coffee with the modern coffee maker of today which needs electricity to work properly. That was a problem until I opened a cupboard and spied sitting on the shelf this old beat up tin pot with a glass bubble on top. My memory clicked on and I figured out how to use it. You pull out this long rod which holds a round screen affair which you fill with coffee. You then fill the tin pot with water and place it on the burner of the gas range which is connected to a propane tank outside. You turn the burner on high until the coffee begins to percolate and then to low heat for 5 minutes. I poured 4 cups of coffee and placed them on the kitchen table and my 3 coffee drinking fishing buddies had nothing but compliments about the taste of their cups of coffee. And so after 3 days of living without electricity the power supply was restored and for the remainder of the trip, I was asked to use the tin pot and forget about the modern coffee maker sitting on the kitchen counter.
On a very personal level one of the guys was having a constipation problem and I used an old Indian method of curing the ailment. I stripped a small section of a Birch tree and after removing the bark; I cut out a quarter size chunk of the tree and had this guy chew on it for 15 minutes. It tastes like Turpentine but he said it worked better than the drugstore product. Such is the verbiage that old can become new and 50 years from now homeowners will seek out old major home appliances because they were made better than today. Stay tuned.