August 22, 2009

Pam and the Antique Stove

PAM BEETON lives in Perth, Australia and shares with us memories of the time when her mum used the classic "Beatrice" stove to get food cooked for her dad, serving on the Indian State Railways, when he had to go for duty 'on-line'. A lovely post, Pam. Your Beatrice stove has seen the golden age of railways in India, and deserves a pat on its back !
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"IT IS FASCINATING to watch the BBC programme, 'The Antiques Roadshow', and whilst watching a 'repeat' the other day it suddenly dawned on me that I had something worth talking about.
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Beatrice… The story of this antique piece starts in Bangalore in the 1940s. It was a wedding gift to our parents, and if my memory serves me right, or so I was told, it is from the "Beatrice" series of Queen Anne stoves.
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Having lived in the small railway colonies of Shahdol and Dongargarh, I remember there were times, any part of the day or night, when Dad got the 'call book' to go on line. Mum was expected to prepare a meal in less than an hour, and she did so using the Beatrice. What an achievement!


If ex-railway folks read this they will not need reminding of what life was like on the railways! Living in small colonies, where electricity was non-existent, the humble 'kerosene oil' stove was the best thing we ever had.
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With our transfer to Bilaspur one would have thought it was time to lay the Beatrice to rest, but this didn't happen. Instead, she took her pride of place in the dinning room - on a side tea table, and was put into use immediately.
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I also remember using the stove on a few occasions - putting the kettle on for a pot of tea, no teabags in those times, and making 'suji' or semolina porridge for breakfast.
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It was, therefore, no surprise, after Mum's passing, in 1980, to find Dad using the Beatrice in preference to the other stoves. He used it to make dishes that Mum excelled in, even lime pickle using the limes from his own trees, and the best parathas that I have ever tasted.
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After faithfully serving the Fletcher household for the better part of 46 years the Beatrice stove was retired upon Dad's passing in 1986. However, Beatrice's journey was not to end in Bilaspur. She was carefully packed up and made her final journey by ship across the Indian ocean to Perth, where she is now part of my family.
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As you can imagine she is quite the talking point of all who lay their eyes upon her."