My newest toy, an O’Keefe and Merritt double oven:
Finally. I found it on Craig’s List in the LA area. This is the trouble with the internet: it’s troublingly simple to find Just the Right Item for sale several hundred miles away. Two minutes of browsing leads to five hours of driving.
Saturday was my day to run around and do the following: borrow a trailer from a friend, buy a trailer hitch, go back to the auto place to buy a trailer pin, buy furniture dolly and hand truck inner tube, replace tube on hand truck wheel, go to the bank without an ATM card, go back to the bank WITH a card, attempt to withdraw money and have the ATM say I have -$79, verify with the teller that the correct balance is much higher, request the bank mop up the mess I made on the floor when I was given incorrect balance, attempt to buy gas at Arco with credit card, go to different gas station with credit card, air up tires, lose envelope with cash, accuse wife of moving envelope, find envelope in my mailbox. Five minutes of clear thinking could’ve shortened this list by half. But, come on, this is the Uncle F&$#-Up method.
On the way up to Los Angeles, I came to understand the horrible truth about concrete highways. They are not flat. Pulling a light trailer with well-inflated tires, I learned that concrete roads are layed down in sections that wear in the middle and rise at the seams, making the road scalloped. BANG BANG BANG BANG! This is what I got to hear as I drove over the low-frequency washboard that is Interstate 5. And I-805, and I-405. As a bonus, I got to watch the trailer hopping in sight in the rearview mirror: look at me, look at me! Luckily I ran through every possible disaster scenario, usually ending in me screeching across six lanes of traffic while the de-hitched trailer threw up rooster tails of sparks.
But I got there, checked the oven, got some parts quotes from my local vintage gas online price specialist (my wife), counted out twenties, and loaded the thing up. The drive back had less bang bang and more thoughts of the oven easing out the back of the trailer onto the highway like the launching of the Lusitania. Then I was home and my wife helped me wrangle the 500lb beast into the garage. Why was it so difficult? Why, the hand truck wheel blew out! No, silly, not the new one, the OTHER side. So I went to bed.
Sunday: buy second inner tube and install, return unused furniture dolly, attempt to move gas line five inches to the left so the oven can fit, shimmy around in the crawlspace for a while like a C.H.U.D., get the gas line stuck in the floor, hook up valve, realize valve is wrong size and remove, drive to store to buy new valve. You get the idea. My wife and I got the oven up five stairs and into the house, though at one point I was under the stove with my back into it, doing a power squat. My wife: “I’m scared.”
But it’s installed now, after I fiddled with pilot lights and the surprising ‘whump’ sounds of an igniting burner. I need to replace the thermocouple on one of the ovens, which my wife keeps calling a negative power coupling and asking if I need a hydrospanner. I’ve learned that pilot lights make the oven top hot! We will learn this lesson after we melt a few plastic bowls on it. Mostly I love the look of this oven, with its rows of dials, curved chrome elbows, indecipherable clock knobs (what does CSM mean?), and heavy everything. It even has little drop-in salt and pepper shakers at the top. It looks like it belongs in the kitchen, and judging by the dimension of the built-in space, I imagine this is the very type of stove that was originally put in the house 60 years ago. Someone from SDGE is coming to check out everything and point out all the Uncle F&%#-Up installation mistakes. As long as it’s safe, I will bite my tongue.
Now the most important question: what should be the first type of bread I bake in the new oven?