Cookin’ With Gas

Above is our beloved mid-1950s O’Keefe & Merritt stove that I’ve gotten so enamored with in since the oven’s valve failed and we had the fine folks at Antique Stove Heaven come out to make repairs last week — which included fixing the range’s “Grillevator” broiler that has not functioned for at least the 10 years Susan’s lived here and cooked with it, and perhaps a lot longer than that.

As an aside, the only reason I knew about Antique Stove Heaven wasn’t via The Google but rather The Old-Fashioned Way. I found the place on Western Avenue when me and my friends Julia and Dave and Jeff and Amanda put on our crazy shoes and spent a day walking the 28-mile length of the street from Griffith Park to the sea in October 2008.

As we await the repairman’s return with the repaired and rechromed frames to the gaping holes you see behind the burner/griddle deck — that’s the broiler’s vent on the left and on the right the oven’s “Hi-Vue” periscope window (a niftycool and energy efficient golden-age gimmick that allows looks at whatever’s cooking in the oven rather than opening its windowless door) I’ve paid some attention to some of its long-neglected bits. I’ve put lights back in the oven’s dual sockets, and I’ve cleaned the periscope’s mirror as well as the internal piece of glass in the oven’s roof that one looks through to see a reflection of whatever’s in there baking, like so:

And in between such administrations in hopes of finding out if the unit was made in 1954 or 1955 (the internet is surprisingly lacking readily available pages devoted to these dinosaurs), I’ve tried unsuccessfully to read the info on the ID plate attached rather inaccessibly under the deck’s lid, down there with burners, and worn down by wear and tear and time and grime.

So today I finally quit craning down in there and failing and just extracted the plate:

Trouble is after 56 years it’s pretty much as hard to read out in the open as it is down in its regular location, but here’s what I’ve deciphered through the wear and tear of time and grime:

Sadly, no actual year is stamped into the plate, but it’s cool knowing it was made right here in L.A. In fact, odds are our O’Keefe and Merritt didn’t travel far from its birthplace as the company’s main manufacturing plant was on OLympic Boulevard in Boyle Heights.