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May 28, 2017 |

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Memorial Day Sales 2017: What Are The Best Deals This Year?

U.S. retailers are offering some of the best deals as part of Memorial Day sales this long holiday weekend. The Memorial Day sales, which unofficially kicks off the summer shopping season, may not be as massive as Black Friday but buyers can still expect to get attractive discounts, sales, and deals on wide-ranging products.

Here is a round-up of some of the deals offered by Walmart, Best Buy, Target, JC Penney, and more retailers over the Memorial Day weekend — from May 27 to May 29.


Walmart is offering a discount on household items, including home decor, kitchen serve-ware, and more. Also, there are good deals on select kitchen appliances, electronics items, and more as part of its Memorial Day sale. Moreover, they are offering up to 75 percent off on patio furniture, according to AL. And there is also discount on sports and outdoor items.

Best Buy

At Best Buy, buyers can get some of the best deals on electronic items, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Laptops, tablets, television sets, speakers and headphones, cameras, camcorder, and more, according to the site’s Memorial Day sales‘ page.


Buyers can get 30 percent off on patio, home, and furniture items this weekend, and they can save 15 percent more by using promo code “HERO,” according to the Target site. Also, they are offering 20 percent off on clothes, shoes, and more with promo code “MEMDAY.”

JC Penny

The department store chain is offering good deals on several items. According to JC Penny, there are good deals on appliances from Samsung, LG, GE, and many other top brands. Buyers can save big on top mattress brands, and there are also special deals on apparel for men, women, and kids. JC Penny’s 2017 Memorial Day sale also includes discounts on kitchen essentials and appliances.

Home Depot

Home Depot is offering up to 30 percent off on patio furniture and accessories, up to 15 percent off on grills and smokers, up to 40 percent off with appliance special buys, and $10 off select 1-gallon cans and $40 off 5-gallon buckets.


Macy’s Memorial Day Sale is offering good deals on women’s swimwear, summer handbags, fine jewelry, women’s activewear, men’s dress shirts and ties, luggage, and more.

Old Navy

Old Navy’s Memorial Day deal is quite tempting. The clothing store is offering 50 percent off on several items, including t-shirts, shorts, string bikini, bikini bottoms, bikini tops, tank tops, and more.


Bloomingdale’s is offering free standard shipping on orders over $200. Buyers can also save up 60 percent by using promo code “BIGBAG” at checkout.


Lowe’s Memorial Day deal runs through June 5. It is offering up to 40 percent off on select appliance, up to 50 percent off on appliance clearance, up to 20 percent off on select grills, up to 35 percent off on select patio furniture, and there are more attractive deals.


Now through June 4, buyers can save up to 40 percent if they shop for women’s, men’s and kid’s clothing at Nordstrom. The discount is part of their half yearly sale promotion.


HM’s Memorial Day Deal is offering customers up to 60 percent off on jeans, jumpsuits, cargo pants, t-shirts, leggings, joggers, skirts, and on more products.


eBay’s home and outdoor Memorial Day coupon deal is offering 20 percent off discount on a minimum of $50 with a maximum discount of $50. According to the site, the eligible items include items purchased from the home and garden, baby, pets, crafts, food, and sporting goods categories.

And here is a list of products that the buyers should avoid buying during Memorial Day sales. According to Market Watch‘s Jacob Passy, customers should avoid checking out deals for automobiles, laptops, televisions, gym equipment, power tools, and jewelry. And if one goes by his suggestion, this memorial weekend, it would be best to buy clothes and more clothes.

[Featured Image by J. David Ake/AP Photo]

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Blackcreek Mercantile makes high-end wood products in the heart of Kingston

Co-owners and spouses Kelly Zaneto and Joshua Vogel of Blackcreek Mercantile  Trading Company in their new showroom at 628 Broadway in Midtown Kingston, N.Y.
Co-owners and spouses Kelly Zaneto and Joshua Vogel of Blackcreek Mercantile Trading Company in their new showroom at 628 Broadway in Midtown Kingston, N.Y.
Tania Barricklo-Daily Freeman

KINGSTON, N.Y. In Midtown, in a former factory across Cedar Street from the Salvation Army, Blackcreek Mercantile Trading Co. is making high-end handcrafted furniture and kitchen utensils and accessories.

Blackcreek, which also has a showroom at 628 Broadway, is owned by expert woodcarver and furniture maker Joshua Vogel and his wife Kelly Zaneto, who have been renting the space for the last seven years.

PHOTOS: Blackcreek Mercantile Trading Co.

On a recent visit, as the sounds of an large electric lathe where an employee was turning an item in the background echoed in the background, Vogel was working on transforming a large tree branch into a wooden spoon using nothing more than an axe and two knives.

Above him was a wall covered with traditional woodworking tools like a drawknife and a frame saw, and below was a workbench were a collection of wooden spoons he sells under a separate entity called Joshua Vogel LLC.

Vogel, author of the book “The Artful Wooden Spoon” which teaches the process of carving wooden spoons, said he starts by using a small axe to create the rough shape of the spoon.

“A spoon has concave and convex shapes,” Vogel said.

As one works on carving a spoon, it’s key to know how to go with the grain of the wood, he added.

Vogel picked up a “hook knife” with a rounded edge and began shaving wood away until a spoon shape began to emerge from the large limb.

“It’s simple blacksmith work,” Vogel said, describing the knife.

As Vogel continued carving, he added that the work is “very accessible” and it’s easy to see if it’s working or not.

He shared a story about just how rugged simple woodworking tools are.

“A guy in Sweden found woodworking tools that were carbon-dated to be 1,000 years old,” Vogel said.

And Vogel said he knows when it’s ready.

“When it’s ready you put it in your mouth and see if it works,” Vogel said.

Vogel said he enjoys sharing his skills, whether it’s with an apprentice in the shop or a course on handcarving spoons he’s slated to teach for the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship this summer in Rockford, Maine.

Vogel said he never ceases to learn new things about woodworking.

“You’re never done learning, you get comfortable with it being a lifelong pursuit,” Vogel said.

Vogel discussed the many differences between different types of wood.

“Balsa is super lightweight, and on the other end is ebony, which is so dense it sinks,” Vogel said. “When you make a spoon, you can use cherry wood, sugar maple.

“You can’t make a barrel of many other things but white oak.” Vogel said.

This helps give distilled spirits their distinct flavor, Vogel said.

Vogel said local forests, and sometimes even trees within city limits, provide ample sources of wood.

Often residents drop off material, he added.

“Our neighbors brought in wood from a catalpa tree,” Vogel said. “It’s a big yard tree.”

But Vogel admitted he’s faced challenges like the emerald ash borer beetle which has devastated local ash trees in recent years.

“Sustainability is key, it dovetails into using materials in the right way,” Vogel said.

While his line of spoons is made using only hand tools, Vogel said power tools are used on Blackcreek products ranging from bowls and bread boxes to tables.

“We try to use a combination of tools when it’s the right tool for the right job,” Vogel said. “We’re adding value in the right way.”

Among the machines is one from South Dakota that once was used to make gun stocks but was adapted for a variety of furniture-making tasks.

“The process develops as we go along,” Vogel said.

While Blackcreek’s furniture is made with power tools, it’s still assembled mainly with traditional mortise and tenon joinery.

“You can’t do this with a computer,” Vogel said.

Vogel said his products are handmade because there is no pre-programming involved in making them.

Pointing to the employee on the lathe, he said, “He’s deciding the shape, not a computer, his hands are shaping it.”

“Somebody’s making that, not some robot machine,” Zaneto said.

“Someone’s name is on that, we’re not just making thousands at a time,” Zaneto added.

“This is a big deal for us,” Zaneto said. “We work here, we live here.

“We want to make this work.”

Vogel said many people like to imagine Kingston the way it was when people ranging from butchers to shoemakers lived in the same community where they worked.

“In part, this is really difficult,” Vogel said. “There are a lot of baseline challenges.”

Zaneto said she believes much of the growth of the Hudson Valley in the future will lean on many small companies instead of a handful of large employers like IBM, which once employed upwards of 7,100 people in the town of Ulster before it closed its facility there in 1995.

“There are lots of wonderful little businesses,” Zaneto said.

In a small room in the front of the warehouse, a traditional draw bench is flanked by Vogel’s wood sculptures.

Pointing to several sculptures, Vogel said he enjoys how sculpturing differs from furniture making.

“To me it’s different than making cabinetry,” Vogel said. “Sculpturing a single piece of wood and rendering it functional by a touch of craft motivates me to keep going.”

On a counter in the same room he showed off some wooden forms for a doorstop that was made in cast iron in a foundry in Richmond, Virginia.

“It’s a crossover between woodwork and metalwork,” Vogel said.

A native of New Mexico, who later lived in Oregon, Vogel then moved to New York City, where he became a partner in a high-end furniture-making operation. That’s where he met Zaneto, who hails from New Jersey.

But that business went a different direction, and Zaneto said they decided to set off on their own in the Hudson Valley.

Vogel, who admitted he was never much of a city person, said he was happy with the move, which first took them to Ashokan and later Kingston, where he started Blackcreek, selling oil for wood cutting boards.

Zaneto also grew to love the Hudson Valley.

“I love how there’s never any traffic,” Zaneto said.

Vogel said they grew and grew, adding the furniture and kitchen lines as they went along, and they moved from another space on Greenkill Avenue to their present location seven years ago.

Zaneto, who handles much of the business side of Blackcreek, said word spread, and people started to flood the small room at the front of their shop and she got the idea of opening a showroom despite Vogel being lukewarm to the idea at first.

Zaneto said she spoke to Patrice Courtney Strong, who talked with the landlord who owned the storefront space at 628 Broadway that once house a tatoo parlor.

Once they secured the space, Zaneto said they got to work stripping away two layers of lineoleum to expose the original floor.

On a recent visit, the showroom featured a sculpture piece and dozens of wooden spoons that Vogel did for his book on one wall and several tables and stools on display. Several copies on Vogel’s book sat on a shelf in the back.

“It’s a natural extension of what we’re already doing very close to the worksite,” Zaneto said.

Zaneto said they had a soft opening in March of 2016, and things have gone very well so far.

“Winter was a little slow,” Zaneto said. “Most of our clients are tourists, not locals.

But Zaneto said she remains concerned about the future as property values in Midtown continue to climb and climb, which she believes is driven in part by “speculation and gossip.”

“We don’t want to get priced out,” Zaneto said. “We’re not motivated only by money.

“We love what we’re creating.”

Instead Zaneto prefers what she calls a balance.

“Real estate bubbles are not sustainable,” Zaneto said. “These are challenges bigger than us, we don’t want to be part of the problem.”

Vogel said this comes has he’s seen a growing interest in woodworking among young women and younger people who can’t stand the thought of an office job.

“We had an employee start as an apprentice and stay on and move his family here,” Vogel said.

Blackcreek Mercantile Trading Company’s showroom is located at 628 Broadway, Kingston and is open Friday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Monday-Thursday by appointment. For more information, call (917) 797-1903 or email

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Parisian Recipes: Ratatouille

As the world turns its eye to Paris for the French Open, Baseline and partnered with Sinclair stations to get us in the mood for Roland Garros. Both sites will showcase a French food recipe from eight of the top French restaurants from around the country. Bon Appétit!


Chef Val from La Chatelaine joined WSYX Columbus to create a Ratatouille from Provence. 

Serving Size: 6 people


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 eggplant (1¼ pounds); ends cut off, washed and cut, with skin on, into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 ¼ pounds, washed, ends removed, cut in 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 12 ounces onions (2-3 depending on size), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound green bell peppers (2–3,) washed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares (about 3 cups)
  • 4–5 well-ripened tomatoes; peeled, halved, seeded and coarsely cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 5–6 cloves garlic; peeled, crushed, and very finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • ½ cup water 2 teaspoons salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat ¼ cup of the oil in one or, better, two large skillets.

First sauté the eggplant cubes, about 8 minutes; remove with slotted spoon and transfer to a large, heavy flameproof casserole. (The eggplant will absorb more oil while cooking than the other vegetables.)

Sauté the zucchini cubes until browned, about 8 minutes, and transfer to the casserole.

Add about ¼ cup more oil to the pan and sauté the onions and peppers together for about 6 minutes, and add them to the casserole.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, water, salt, and pepper to the casserole and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce heat, cover, and cook over low heat for 1 hour.

Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook another 20 minutes, uncovered, to reduce some of the liquid; stir once in a while to prevent scorching.

Let the ratatouille rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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A now house that’s a wow house – Sarasota Herald

People coming to the Laurel Oak home of Paula and Rick Dies are likely to describe the 3,900-square-foot house as chic, contemporary and comfortable. The homeowners see why those descriptions are apt. But when they talk about their house and its design, they call it the “now” house because it is designed and furnished for the way they live at this moment.

When the couple moved from Atlanta in 2011, they had criteria for choosing a neighborhood and a house. Rick Dies had retired from his career with UPS and Paula was ready to close her 30-year-old interior design firm. 

“Rick plays golf and I’m learning so we wanted a golf course community,” Paula Dies said. “Also, I wanted a home smaller and more contemporary than the six-bedroom, formal place we had in Atlanta and we both wanted a home for the way we live now. Kids are grown, Rick is retired and we wanted a carefree life with plenty of time to relax, enjoy Florida outdoor life and entertain friends and neighbors in a place where the pool, summer kitchen, eating and relaxing areas would merge with the indoor spaces.”

They chose the Laurel Oak community and bought a 1992, one-story Arthur Rutenberg-designed home with three bedrooms. They were impressed with the generous size of the lot and the oversized three-car garage. 

“We liked that the house was oriented to the lanai and to views of the golf course,” Rick Dies said. “But we knew that we would eventually renovate to update but also to reconfigure and repurpose all the spaces to conform to how we wanted to use them. We didn’t want wasted space and rooms we wouldn’t use and enjoy every day — didn’t want a formal separate dining room, didn’t need a formal living room, didn’t want three bedrooms, didn’t want the kitchen closed off.”

It took nearly four years, however, to get ready to tackle the job.

“Before undertaking a massive and expensive renovation, I wanted to be absolutely sure that this was the right neighborhood for us and that this was the right house,” Paula Dies said. “So every weekend I dragged Rick to model homes, new communities, established neighborhoods — we went all over this county. At the same time, we were making notes and drawings of how we’d ideally change things where we were living.

“Finally, we agreed that Laurel Oak was for us and that we could make this house our perfect ‘now’ house.”

They gave their architectural drawings to a draftsman for an official house plan. Paula Dies signed on as interior designer and Rick Dies took on the job as general contractor. He estimates he saved about 30 percent of the overall designated budget by being the general contractor.

“It wasn’t as daring as it sounds,” Paula Dies said. “Rick was raised on a farm in Oklahoma, which means he can do anything. Also, after he retired, he and a couple friends formed a small company buying derelict homes, reconditioning and then selling them. So, he had experience with supervising the remodeling of several properties. 

“We both knew he could do this job but since we were relatively new to the area he had to do a lot of interviewing of sub-contractors before hiring any. Also, he took the job truly seriously. He was on the site every single day of the 18-month renovation, paying equal attention to the details and the overall project.”

The couple did not change the footprint of the house. But they did take every wall down to the studs. During the renovation, they lived in a rented house nearby, storing the furniture they brought with them from Atlanta. During the renovation, as it became clear which pieces they would not use in the new house, they got rid of furniture and accessories in garage sales.

Other pieces Paula Dies recycled with new upholstery or paint. 

“Nearly all of our art was framed in gold, which was our metal of choice in the Atlanta home,” she said. “I just painted the frames silver since that’s the metallic color we chose for this place. I repainted lamp bases, mirror frames, knobs on consoles and bedside tables, things like that.

“I did invest in custom lampshades that fit the style of the house. For the money, custom lamp shades are a great investment.” 

For new furniture, lighting and accessories, the designer went to Sarasota Architectural Salvage, Franklin Lighting, Robb Stucky, Z Gallerie, HomeGoods, the internet and sources that are open exclusively to people in the design trade.

They relocated a bathroom, made the kitchen-bar-dining-family room one big, flowing space oriented toward the pool and the lanai with its summer kitchen. They converted the interior space into a two-bedroom house. One former bedroom is Rick Die’s office.

“I did put a sleeper sofa in there,” Paula Dies said, “but we just have one designated guest room now and it’s enough.”

The designer turned a home office that had been off the master bedroom into a world class walk-in closet/dressing room. 

“It’s glamorous, fabulous, and it’s everything I wanted in a closet,” said Paula Dies, who arranges her clothes by color behind glass doors. Handbags and shoes are displayed as if there were in a high-end boutique. “I’m one of those designers who says you should put a lot of the budget into the kitchen and into closets that function beautifully and look stunning.”

The centerpiece of the open kitchen is a quartz-clad 10-foot-by-9-foot center island with a pop-up television that swivels at one end.

Instead of bar stools, comfortable upholstered chairs are placed by the island, the same chairs that are at the dining table a few feet away. The galley sink is a 5-foot-long beauty with two faucets, built-in sliding cutting boards and a built-in colander. The cabinets are hand-glazed and painted Hammered Silver and the walls throughout most of the house are Popular Gray (both from Sherwin Williams). The couple chose a neutral color scheme with infusions of cobalt blue coming from accessories and wall art. The floors are marble. The couple opted for plantation shutters and simple window treatments.

“This house is the opposite of the Atlanta one,” the designer said. “Here we have no arches, columns, fancy molding, no tray or coffered ceilings. We chose clean lines, low maintenance and comfort with style.

“We put most of our budget into the area that’s the kitchen/bar/dining area and great room with its feature wall and electric fireplace. These are spaces we use and enjoy every day,” she said. 

“Renovation is a challenge even for professionals but it’s worth taking the time to do it right. Now, we’re staying put.”


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HISTORICAL TREASURE: Conestoga wagons were the ‘freight cars of the National Road"

When I was a child, my favorite television show was Wagon Train. 

At night, I would lie in my bed and imagine it to be a wagon, moving westward to new horizons and high adventures. I would create sections of my bed as places for eating, sleeping and traveling. 

Like so many childhood memories (and television for that matter) there was little basis in fact. There is a model of a Conestoga wagon in the “Tool Room” of the Vigo County Historical Society Museum that underscores a more honest story of the “inland ships of commerce” or “freight cars of the National Road” as they were nicknamed, and of the important role they played in the settlement history of the Wabash Valley.

The name “Conestoga” is most likely Iroquois in its origin, meaning “People of the cabin pole.” Their history can be traced back to the Conestoga River area in Pennsylvania around the mid-18th century. By 1852, the wagons also were made in South Bend by the Studebaker family (who later made the famous Studebaker cars). The wagons cost about $250 apiece to build.

Unlike the wagons of “Wagon Train”, which were meant to move people, the Conestoga wagons were built to transport heavy loads over rough roads. Their distinctive shapes – the curved floors and the canvas covers pulled taut over wood hoops – were designed to hold everything from dry goods to heavy equipment without shifting or falling out when the wagon was in motion. Chains could lower and raise the gates at either end to facilitate loading and unloading the contents. Four to six strong horses typically pulled the wagons.

In addition to being the vehicles that brought building or manufacturing supplies to a community, the Conestoga wagons were also mobile department stores. Families from Pennsylvania to Iowa would wait impatiently for the next wagonload of supplies that were hard to come by in the newly formed settlements or that were too bulky for families to carry on their own journey from the East coast. Next to the museum’s model wagon is a list of household goods that a wagon might have brought to happy families. Candles, dishes, coffee pots, blankets, canned foods, whiskey, cookware and seeds were essentials. Axes, hammers and shovels manufactured back home were more durable than the ones fashioned together on the prairies.

The National Road provided the most direct transport from Pennsylvania to Indiana and a short distance beyond. It is known that in 1837, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith came through Terre Haute in Conestoga wagons on his treks to settle further west. And as it is with progress, by the 1850s the railroads had become the preferred method for transporting goods and the Conestoga wagons went the way of log cabins and one room schoolhouses.


Be a History Maker! There are many ways you can contribute to the History Center capital campaign. To learn more, call 812-235-9717 or visit our website at

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5 PGA Club Professionals make the cut in the 78th KitchenAid …

POTOMAC FALLS, Va. (May 27, 2017) – Mark Brown of Oyster Bay, New York, one of the fortunate not having to awaken early Saturday to complete his second round, led a group of five PGA Club Professionals making the 36-hole cut in the 78th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

Brown, a 50-year-old PGA Head Professional at Tam O’Shanter Golf Club in Brookville, New York, made the most of his debut in the most historic and prestigious event in senior golf. He posted rounds of 74 and 71 for a 1-over-par 145, finishing three strokes above the cut of 148.

He is joined this weekend in a chase for Low Club Professional honors by Jim Estes of Germantown, Maryland; Lee Houtteman of Glen Arbor, Michigan; Jeff Roth of Farmington, New Mexico and Rick Schuller of Chester, Virginia.

RELATED: Photos from Trump National | Videos from Round 2 | Leaderboard

There were 36 PGA Club Professionals starting in the 156-player Championship, which began in 1937 when legendary Bob Jones welcomed 37 senior PGA Professionals to Augusta National Golf Club to launch the national championship.

Fifty golfers returned to Trump National Golf Club-DC early Saturday to complete their seconds rounds after a combination of 35-mile per hour gusts and darkness on Friday forced suspension of play.

Brown, a three-time runner-up in the PGA Professional Championship, said he is focused to chase the Low Club Professional honor.

“I think it would be kind of cool,” said Brown. “It is my first one and I really wanted to do well. I was hitting it well coming in here and it’s definitely a goal of mine to try and be the Low Club Professional and find some more birdies.”

For Schuller, the 2009 Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year, playing the weekend didn’t come without a struggle. He posted a 72 on Friday, after the first marathon round was interrupted by Thursday afternoon rain. On Saturday morning, he battled through his closing six holes, making three par-saves before pulling an 8-iron into a hazard on the 182-yard 10th hole, his final hole of the round.

He secured his third cut in three attempts by two-putting from 70 feet, including making a six-footer for a double bogey.

“Mentally it’s so hard just because it happens so slow and it takes so long and then you’re trying not to look ahead and predict what might happen and making a cut,” said Schuller, a PGA Teaching Professional at Stonehenge Golf Country Club in North Chesterfield, Virginia.

“This is now my third cut in a row, so this is really neat. I was holding it together, this morning was a little shaky, swing didn’t feel as good as it did the past couple days. But I managed some great saves.”

Estes also made his third consecutive cut in as many attempts. He is a PGA Director of Instruction at Olney Golf Park in Olney, Maryland, and co-founder of Salute Military Golf Association.

Roth, the 1993 PGA Professional Champion, made his third cut in eight appearances. He is the PGA Head Professional at San Juan Country Club in Farmington, New Mexico.

Houtteman, 55, is a PGA Teaching Professional at Manitou Passage Golf Club in Cedar, Michigan and made his first cut in two attempts.

Gene Fieger of Naples, Florida, who was cruising to the second round after an opening 69, struggled to an 80 on Friday, missing the cut by one stroke.

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Finding an old skillet still cast for the purpose of cooking

By Rennie Phillips

One of the main appliances in Mom and Dad’s house was the kitchen stove. Mom’s was a gas stove or range, and it had four burners on the top plus a griddle in the middle. Neat stove. We ate a boatload of pancakes fried on that middle griddle.Must have been a 42- or 46-inch stove. And from the time I can remember, Mom and Dad always had a cast-iron skillet sitting on their stove. I don’t remember what kind of skillet it was or even how big it was. I don’t think it was real big, so maybe a 10-inch skillet or so. That’s pretty much all Mom used.

I do remember them buying some of those Teflon-coated skillets. One had to use the special spoons and spatulas in them. I know I got chewed out a few times when I used a metal spatula. Marge tried these coated pans as well, but it didn’t seem like they lasted long. Seems like before you knew it the coating was coming off, and all that was left was pieces of Teflon stuck to a metal skillet that the food also stuck to. We figured we were eating the pieces of Teflon, so not real appetizing.

Mom and Dad, Marge’s folks and Marge and I also tried those electric skillets, which worked pretty good. I think they were mainly made out of aluminum. Most were pretty thick and warmed up fairly slow, so food didn’t stick or burn real bad if one was kind of careful. But they took up a lot of counter space or storage space. When we got married, Marge’s parents gave us a #7 Wagner cast-iron skillet. I’m guessing we still have it. We have a number of skillets now, so not sure which one is the gift from Helen and Keith. Unless they are abused, these old skillets will last for generations.

I spent time with Lewis Hamilton and Lendy Wiggins hunting and fishing. Both of them would bring a cast-iron skillet to cook breakfast or dinner, and man, it worked like a charm. Never seemed to stick. Most of the time they were cooking bacon or pork, and when there was enough grease they fried eggs. Both of them used Griswold. Right then I knew we had to have a Griswold skillet. Had to, no question about it.

We began looking in rummage stores, flea markets and antique stores, and we found and bought a few. Some were good buys, some weren’t. I bought a deep cast-iron baking dish with a lid. After trying it, I noticed a hair-line crack on one side. Doesn’t leak, but there is a crack. Lid is perfect, so still not a bad deal. Bought one Griswold in a flea market in Cape Girardeau. It was literally covered in a black, cooked-on mess. I took a chance. After a lot of cleaning, out came a nice Griswold.

It was about then that I discovered eBay, where there were pages and pages of Griswold pots and pans and skillets and all kinds of goodies. Somewhere in there the line between need and want got fuzzy, and the line between good deal and expensive got fuzzy as well. So we began to buy a few things on eBay — skillets, pots, waffle irons and griddles. Got real interesting.

About this same time we were going to a flea market in Illinois, and there was a guy there who had some serious cast-iron Griswold stuff. Man, he had a tall-ring #7 Griswold waffle iron that looked brand new. He had $150 on the waffle iron, which is a lot of money to spend on a waffle iron. So we’d go check out the flea market and I’d drool on the Griswold stuff, especially the waffle iron. Not sure how many times we went and checked it out. Then one time we went back and the store was closed and all his stuff had sold. The guy had died and the waffle iron was lost for good.

One showed up later on eBay. It was not as good, but not as expensive either. Didn’t make the same mistake twice. We went ahead and bought the waffle iron and use it every now and then. An old Griswold Abelskiver came up for sale on eBay, so I went ahead and bought that as well. My grandparents were Danish, and the Abelskiver was their way of making pancakes. My one sister has Grandma and Grandpa’s old Abelskiver. Neat. I wonder if Grandma brought that old Abelskiver from Denmark when they immigrated to the U.S. One thing I’ve got to do when we visit Nebraska is to have some Danish pancakes out of it.

Some would faint if they saw how we clean our cast iron. We use soap and water and a scratch pad, if it’s needed. Our skillets don’t seem to stick, so they must be seasoned real well. Every now and then we will heat up the skillet and wipe some oil in it, then just turn it off. After it cools, we wipe it down.

I think the best way to season a cast-iron skillet is to just use it to fry some bacon or sausage. Use it. One thing we do after cleaning — set it on the stove and heat it to finish the drying.

Most come with numbers on them. A #7 or #8 is a great size for normal use. You will hardly ever see a #9. My wife’s favorite skillet is a #10, while mine is a #12. If I had to buy just one skillet, it would probably be a #10. If you are buying it online or from eBay, I’d only buy one piece at a time so that it’s shipped alone. I ordered several pieces from one seller and, after banging around in shipping, one was broken and ruined.

There are some mighty fine new ones out there, but I’ll stick to the old ones. I just like the fact they are old.

Hope you can find you an old cast-iron skillet which you can use.

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