“This was in an old farmhouse in upstate New York,” the dealer noted.
I thought of one of my old customers, John, who lived on his farm for many, many decades in upstate New York. I had never met John in person but we became friends through commonality and scribbled word. He would send a check for four pain salves to me along with a brief letter. I would include a letter in return in his package. He wrote in beautiful cursive with the nervous shake of a man who had lived a long life. Nearly ninety years at the time. We talked about farm life and crops, about family and brief notations of endearment and a hope to speak soon. The last time he ordered pain salve was two years ago. I looked at the old hoosier with affection and wondered what the odds were that it had been in his farmhouse. I bought it.
Baking cabinets, or hoosiers named so because of where they were manufactured, were mostly made from 1900-1920 before the newer wall hung cabinets were introduced but remained popular until World War Two. They have a flour sifter, shelves for sugar and spices, and a ceramic top to work on. In the bottom there would be more storage and there is usually a bread box of some sort.
There was a much nicer, restored one on the floor of the same antique shop. Lovingly painted, the bread box in tact, and the original bottom piece still there. Mine has seen a bit of weather, has lost its bottom, been rebuild on an old kitchen table, and the roll top bread box is stuck. I littered the path to the kitchen with paint chips. But, to me, this is the loveliest piece. I have wanted one for many years. The price was right. It has the original milk glass. Can you imagine the lady of the house sifting her flour for baking bread? Kneading it just so on the table top, keeping her finished bread safe behind the roll top doors? I can. It has a bit more life in it, don’t you think?