The 1950 Hotpoint stove was there when Lucy and Frank Samodulski and their 4-year-old daughter, Mary Ann, moved into their newly built Cape Cod-style house in Hicksville in 1950.
Their son, Joe, came along a few years after that. In the mid-1980s, Joe and I were married, and the house became my home as well. Since then, we’ve made a lot of changes to the house and yard, and we even renovated the kitchen once a long time ago — but the large white stove remained a constant.
The 39-inch-wide Hotpoint took up a great deal of room in our small kitchen, and for years we dreamt of adding cabinets and even — luxury of luxuries — a dishwasher.
One evening 20 or so years ago, the back burner flashed and burned out.
“This is great,” I thought gleefully. “Now we have to get a new stove.”
Joe, however, pulled the stove out from the wall and painstakingly rewired it. The Hotpoint logo even lit up again.
Gradually, I came to have a grudging respect for the old stove. To switch it on, you just turned a knob. The oven temperatures were clearly marked and easy to set — no fumbling through a user’s manual that you just downloaded from the Internet.
Now and then, Joe cooked homemade tomato sauce, his mother’s specialty. I baked a birthday apple pie for him every year, each time praying that the oven door would not fall off its hinges.
When the stove was new, our neighborhood was new as well. Lucy grew up on the East Side of Manhattan, and Frank grew up in Brooklyn. They thought they were living in the country when they moved to Hicksville. On his days off from working at a Breyers Ice Cream factory in Brooklyn, Frank, a World War II veteran, loved to take long drives to eastern Long Island, even farther into the country.
The houses looked alike, the yards were bare, with few trees, and the families were young and starting out. The stove was part of a gleaming new kitchen and a promising new life.
Now the houses in our neighborhood all look different from one another, and the couples who migrated here from the city and other places in the 1950s and 1960s are almost all gone. Other people have moved in from many parts of the country and even the world. The scores of children who played outside in the 1960s and 1970s, choosing teams for kickball and riding their bicycles through the suburban streets, grew up, and most are long gone as well. If you see someone riding a bicycle through the streets these days, it’s often a man returning home from a long day’s labor.
Through it all, the stove remained, as have a few other hints of life as it used to be: a former horse pasture in the midst of the Cape Cod houses, a remnant of the farm our neighborhood used to be, as well as some beautiful old houses and an aged linden tree.
The process of change and renewal continues. We are renovating the kitchen yet again. The old stove is finally gone, replaced by a gleaming new one with lots of buttons and dials that we don’t yet know how to use.
Reader Carla Samodulski lives in Hicksville.