Throwback Thursday: By 1953, 'Old Garland' had cooked 3.5 million meals. But a cute name couldn't save her.
By Kristy Bleizeffer Jun 16, 2021
In June 1953, the hospital’s stove was somewhat of a local celebrity. “Old Garland,” as the kitchen staff called her, was all but cooked out when the Casper Tribune-Herald wrote a deliciously sentimental article. It even ran a photo of the afternoon cook trying to light her – using a precarious method the cooks devised after the janitors refused to do it for them.
“A public servant of greater proven devotion than ‘Old Garland,’ as cooks at Memorial Hospital intimately call their old run-down canopy-cropped Garland gas range, would be hard to find,” the article begins. “The big trouble at present, the cooks agree, is that Old Garland is all proven out.”
Back then, Memorial Hospital was a month away from asking voters to approve a $1 million bond to pay for a new addition and needed upgrades, including a new kitchen. With voters’ approval, Old Garland was to be retired.
Spoiler alert: The bond did pass and the kitchen was upgraded, making the cover of “Modern Hospital” in 1956. (And the kitchen staff prepared meals in that "modern" kitchen until 2014 when the new cafeteria opened in the McMurry West Tower.) The full newspaper article is transcribed below:
HOSPITAL KITCHEN RANGE IS VETERAN OF LONG SERVICE
A public servant of greater proven devotion than ‘Old Garland,’ as cooks at Memorial Hospital intimately call their old run-down canopy-cropped Garland gas range, would be hard to find.
The big trouble at present, the cooks agree, is that Old Garland is all proven out.
At one time, the range was a fitting fixture for the opening of a new west wing. That was in 1903 or 1908, as closely as hospital historians can date the stove.
Since that time, Old Garland has cooked and baked its way through an estimated 3,500,000 meals.
They figure the first two sections of the range produced an average of 200 meals daily during the first 34 years of operation.
ADD NEW SECTIONS
In 1941, then, two more sections were added, and the range has cooked and baked an average of 500 meals a day over the past 12 years. That amounts to 2,190,000 of the 3,500,000 meals.
The long uninterrupted service is credit to Old Garland, but the cooking unit probably would express shame at its present condition if stoves possessed powers of speech.
One of the four ovens is completely burned out. Another at top … can be used only for warming purposes. The heat regulator no longer works on the third oven, and the fourth hasn’t worked quite right since an attempt to clean grease-packed dirt from out-of-the-way interior and exterior areas.
LIKE A TORNADO
A metal canopy erected over the range to aid in funneling heat out of the cooking area serves chiefly to hold the heat close by, according to the cooks.
Mrs. George Jewett, morning cook, compares the heat-removing process to a tornado when it functions automatically. That’s when fans aren’t working, which is most of the time.
“It has to build up a cloud of heat so high that the cool air from the window comes in to form a current. Hot air rises into the canopy and cold air then comes in from the outside to force it out. It’s sort of like the build-up to a tornado,” Mrs. Jewett said.
A sign over the electric socket, which serves as an outlet both for the fans and for a light behind the stove reads, “Out of Order—Do Not Touch.”
Nevertheless, cooks turn on the fans every morning – or try to turn them on. They only use them when they don’t need the light, for double sockets don't seem to work from the outlet in question.
GREASE FAN LEAKS
One oven in the range the janitors for years have declined to light for cooks in the morning, Mrs. Jewett said. The cooks light it themselves.
A grease pan under the grill has sprung a number of leaks and the metal composing it is such that it cannot be brazed or welded as a means of repair. Thus, the grill is used sparingly – seldom if ever, Mrs. Jewett said.
The cooks hope to remedy their ill-equipped, cramped kitchen facilities through the bond election July 14 for a new hospital addition and a remodeling project in the present physical plant.
Included in the proposed building plans is an all-new, ultra-modern kitchen located in the west side of the addition. And Old Garland will be retired in favor of a new stove.
Incidentally, Mrs. Ruth Garland, a nursing supervisor at the hospital, disclaims identity in name and location with Old Garland except by coincidence. She’s been around these parts a long time, Mrs. Garland admits, but not nearly as long as the hospital kitchen range.
Throwback Thursday is a series celebrating Wyoming Medical Center’s long and rich history in Natrona County. Special thanks to the Casper College Western History Center which archives the vast Wyoming Medical Center collection of newspaper articles, photographs and other memorabilia.