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Bed and Breakfast: 1939

Bed and Breakfast: 1939

July 1939. "Washington, D.C. — Government worker's room." Equipped with a kerosene stove. Medium format negative by David Moffat Myers. View full size.


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Coal Gas Smell

The South Island of New Zealand continued to produce coal gas into the 1980s in Dunedin, Christchurch and Invercargill. When our family lived in Melbourne in the 1960s, coal gas was still in use. There is an easy way to tell you what coal gas smelled like: moth balls! And it was more explosive than natural gas. When you lit the burner, it ignited with quite a sharp "POP" sound.

Gas and Kerosene

I think if you look very closely next to the alarm clock, you will see the edge of a second gas fixture that was probably left over from a pair of gas wall sconces for lighting.

Obviously, this room was converted into a bed-sit room from a single-family home with the stove added as an afterthought (probably to increase the rent obtained from the room).

Interesting that in spite of the proximity of gas lines, they chose to install a kerosene cooking stove, probably because it required no other plumbing. You can see the kerosene can sitting under the store. It was probably up to the renter to supply the fuel.

[Those jets are relics of the gaslight era, when coal gas was a primary source of illumination in many cities. With natural gas coming into wide use in the 1940s, Washington Gas Light ended production of "city gas" (which was extremely poisonous) and scrapped its distribution system of holding tanks and pipelines. - Dave]

Heck of a lampshade

No fire hazard there in the breakfast nook.

Odd no flue or chimney vent

Tank on the left was for the coal oil as we called it when I grew up. You can see the fuel line to stove. Beautiful kerosene can with wooden handle and its partner the funnel filled the tank.

So efficient

You can practically cook your own breakfast in bed!

[I am stealing your idea for the title of this post. Well done and over easy! - Dave]

Gas Jet

Sure looks like a gas connector just above the right side of the stove. Wonder if that was only for gas light? Why was it on the wall? If it was for a heater, that connector would have been mounted down on the floor.I can remember gas valves like that with a rubber hose connected to a gas heater in bathrooms, living rooms, or other rooms that needed some extra heat. Not very safe but it was used extensively.

The stove

... is an Ivanhoe "Perfection" made in Cleveland, likely in the mid-1930s.

[Or perhaps made by the Florence Stove Company of Gardner, Mass. - Dave]

Take your Lumps

That mattress is making my back hurt just by looking at it.

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