Friday, October 15, 2010

Tighsolas Still Life

A Nicholson flat iron (that I use as a bedroom doorstop) with a statuette (Royal Doulton?) once belonging to Margaret Nicholson's grand daughter, on a piece of lace once belonging to the Nicholsons, with pic of Tighsolas.

Anyway, I found this tidbit in the 1909 Montreal Gazette Archive.
"In conjunction with Mr. Henry Morgan and Company, the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company will give an exhibit and demonstration of electric cooking and heating devices, broilers, toasters, chafing dishes, etc.
A special feature will be the use of the electric iron."

You can see one of the Nicholson flat irons in the pic above. (I also have a kitchen chair with an anvil shaped burn in seat from the Nicholsons!)

Well, I have a letter from 1909, Margaret to Norman, saying that it took two days for Flora to wash and iron her white dress.

That flat iron weighs at least 10 pounds! And Flora was a teeny tiny whisp of a girl, the 'frail one.'

The Nicholson's electrified Tigsholas in 1913. I have all the information. At least, they set it up for light. I also had invoices from Richmond Electric that is also trying to get people to cook with electricity.
I doubt that Margaret ever gave up her wood stove, at least willingly. She lived in Tighsolas until 1936, with a companion, a Mrs. Greene: I have the Depression Era letters. (Her sister, Sarah, writes her from Sarnia saying she never thought she'd see the day when there would be grown men begging in the street.)

Her granddaughter, Marion, recalls stealing doughnuts off the stove as they were cooling, from an upstairs bedroom, by using a hook through a hole in the floor. This would be in the late twenties. She loved to visit Tighsolas as a child, but found Sundays boring. Margaret did nothing on the Sabbath.
Today, I have a totally electric home and when the electricity goes off I am totally helpless. Well, I can use the BBQ...but no Internet!

But I recall, sometimes in my childhood, when we went to the country, say for a lake vacation, the cottages had woodstoves. My brothers and I loved playing with the hooky things and the heavy back iron, whatchamacallits, plates? I should learn the terms if I am going to write authentically above Tighsolas in 1910.

I wish I could turn on the TV to the LIFE channel and watch a 1910 cooking show, starring Margaret Nicholson. Revealing all her tricks. She was possessive when it came to her recipes, apparently. If someone asked for one of her recipes, she left out something, or changed something. Maybe someone already has a video on YouTube, How to Cook with a Woodstove. (One minute while I check...)
...Hmm. No videos, pers se. I understand that any good cook is a scientist, of sorts, a chemist, who innately comprehends the chemical properties of starches and oils and proteins, but from what I read, someone who cooked in the 1900 era was something of an engineer, keeping the fire going and heat flowing in the oven, opening flues and moving the pots around in the oven and over the stove top. I will definitely write a paragraph or two describing Margaret as she expertly manipulates her cooking materials, effortlessly, majestically, like a conductor over his (sic) symphony.
And then, apparently, a person had to clean the stove each day. Not only clean out the ash pan, but also polish the stove so it didn't rust. Well, Stove Polish was a product purchased by the Nicholsons. No wonder.