It's getting to be that time of year. Chillier weather approaches, especially here in New England, and it seems the perfect time to reprint this article published in the Manufacturer and Builder, Dec. 1871 issue.
WE do not remember the exact date of the invention of stoves; but it was several years ago. Since then mankind have been tormented, once a year, by the difficulties that beset the task of putting them up, and getting the pipes "fixed." With all our Yankee ingenuity, no American has ever invented any method by which the labor of putting up a stove can be lessened. The job is now almost as severe and vexatious as humanity can possibly endure.
Men always put up their stoves on a rainy day. Why, we know not; but we never heard of an exception to the rule. The first step to be taken is to put on a very old and ragged coat, under the impression that when the operator gets his mouth full of plaster it will keep his shirt—bosom clean. Next, he gets his hand inside the place where the pipe ought to go, and blacks his fingers; then he carefully makes a black mark down one side of his nose. Having got his face properly marked, the victim—usually "paterfamilias" ——is ready to begin the ceremony. The "head of the family" grasps one side of the bottom of the stove, and his wife and his hired girl take hold of the other side. In this way the stove is started from the wood—shed toward the parlor. Going through the door, the chief operator carefully swings his side of the stove around and jams his thumb—nail against the door-post. Having got the
"family comfort" in place, the next thing is to find the legs. Two of these are left inside the stove since the spring before. The other two must be hunted after for twenty- five minutes. They are usually found under the coal. Then the "head of the family” holds up one side of the stove while his wife puts two of the legs in place, and next he holds up the other side while the other two are fixed, and, one of the first two falls out. By the time the stove is on its legs he gets reckless, and takes off his old coat, regardless of his linen.
"Paterfamilias" then goes for the pipe, and gets two cinders in his eye. It don’t make any difference how well the pipe was put up last year, it will always be found a little too short or a little too long. "The head off the family” jams his hat over his eyes, and taking a pipe under each arm goes to the tin-shop to have it fixed. When he gets back, he steps upon one of the best parlor chairs to see if the pipe fits, and his wife makes him get down for fear he will scratch the varnish off from the chair with the nails in his boot-heel. In getting down, he will surely step on the cat, and may thank his stars that it is not the baby. Then he gets an old chair and climbs up to the chimney again, to find that in cutting the pipe off the end has been left too big for the hole in the chimney. So he goes to the wood—shed and
splits one side of the end of the pipe with an old ax, and squeezes it in his hands to make it smaller. The chief operator at length gets the pipe in shape, and finds that the stove does not stand true. Then himself and his wife and the hired girl move the stove to the left, and the legs fall out again. Next it is to be moved to the right. More difficulty now with the legs. Move to the front a little. Elbow not even with the hole in the chimney, and the "head of the family” goes again to the wood-shed after some little blocks. While putting the blocks under the legs the pipe comes out of the chimney. That remedied, the elbow keeps tipping over, to the great alarm of the wife. "Paterfamilias" gets the dinner-table out, puts the old chair on it, makes his wife take hold of the chair, and balances himself on it to drive some nails into the ceiling but in doing this he drops the hammer on his wife’s head. At last he gets the nails driven, makes a wire swing to hold the pipe, hammers a little
here, pulls a little there, takes a long breath, and announces the ceremony concluded. Job never put up any stoves. It would have ruined his reputation if he had.