Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Short Story by "The Frying Pan Man"

It was a miserable day and I decided to catch a bus into town. After a few chores in the city, I decided to pop over to my favourite little collectible store situated on the edge of Chinatown (Victoria). The store, Watsons Antiques, carried an eclectic bunch of bits and pieces that appealed to me, and dear Mr. Watson knew a lot about everything. His store was originally Chinese which specialized in herbs and cures. Mr. Watson had great faith in the knowledge and wisdom of the Chinese. During the war while he was in the Medical Corp, he made a study of Chinese medicines. He told me that when they closed the Chinese hospital and moved the elderly patients to a modern facility, the patients did not live long because of their change in diet. Back at the store, Mr. Watson had previously given me a tour of the upstairs in the building, which included little rooms that were rented out, probably to immigrants. I was fascinated with the tour, especially when he showed me a secret passageway which led to a dead-end, just a wall. He then showed me an ingenious device that opened a little door which gave access to the roof, an escape necessary when the building was raided by the police, probably for gambling.

Poking through the cluttered artifacts, I discovered a lovely McClary No 8 frying pan. I had a great weakness for older quality cast iron. I left Watsons Antiques with the frying pan, plus a big smile.

McClary No. 8

The bus ride on the way home was crowded but I did manage to find a seat next to a pleasant looking gentleman who greeted me with a friendly ‘Hi there’. I carried my McClary pan, with no carrier bag, and noticed the gentleman glancing at it. He was quite interested and asked to have a look at it and told me I had a fine frying pan. It was made before the war, after which they started using scrap iron in their manufacture.

The gentleman on the bus told me that during the 1930's he was a British Columbia inspector of mines, he was asked to travel to Ontario to investigate a foundry as to whether the gasses produced could be dangerous to the workers. At that time, foundries used a high quality pig iron. They would first employ a pattern maker to make the shape of the pan out of wood, then place the pattern into a special casting sand that was placed in a cradle on wheels. They would pour the molten iron through a hole in the top, then rock the cradle to make sure it flowed evenly. The cradle would then be wheeled to the side of the room to cool and cure overnight. He mentioned the foundry workers would be responsible for any imperfections, as this would cost time and money to correct any flaws.

I thanked him for that most interesting information and wished the bus trip had been a little longer.

Thank you for visiting our website. “The Frying Pan Man”

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