I read somewhere that an antique is anything that is over fifty years old. What a shock to realize that my cast iron skillet qualifies...and that I bought it new. It was the very first thing I put into the hope chest Mom and Dad gave me for my sixteenth birthday and one of the few things that still survives today.
It is a '10 1/2 inch chicken fryer' with no brand name on it that I can find. It must not have cost much, because I bought it with my babysitting money...fifty cents an hour back then. I don't even know where I got it. Probably the dime store on San Mateo in Albuquerque...that's where most of my treasures came from in those days. If I'd known then that I'd still be using it fifty years later, I'd have paid more attention. It had a glass lid at one time - long since broken. I do remember what prompted the purchase though. I saw a picture in an Ideals magazine of a red and white checked tablecloth set with Blue Willow dishes, a cast iron skillet full of stew sitting in the middle. It seemed so absolutely perfect that it became my vision for the future. I imagined a hungry husband sniffing appreciatively as he came through the door at night. I saw several children gathered around the table, waiting for their plates to be filled. And I, of course, was the smiling star of the whole thing in my shirtwaist dress and ruffled apron, carrying that skillet filled with savory stew to the table.
On the whole, it happened just about that way. Over the years my skillet has cooked everything from French toast to Christmas dinner, survived over twenty moves and fed more company than I can even remember now. We carried it to family gatherings and church dinners...covered with aluminum foil and wrapped in towels, it kept things perfectly hot in transit.
Today it cooked a beef roast for me. The roast, nestled in a bed of carrots and potatoes, looked as lovely as my dream fifty years ago, and tasted just as good. The scene has changed though. My husband doesn't come sniffing through the door at night - he's semi-retired and works from home. The children are grown and scattered across the country. I haven't worn a shirtwaist in years. There's only one Blue Willow plate left - it sits atop the kitchen cabinet as a memento, no longer in service. But that skillet and I...we've gone the distance. We've partnered in domesticity for half-a-century, and that's saying something! I had my dreams and my vision - it helped them become a reality. Who could ask for more from a simple cast iron skillet?