Commonwealth Journal

September 19, 2011

‘The Original Panman’ had the answer to the odd piece of cast iron belonging to Turtle Roberts

by Bill Mardis Editor Emeritus
Commonwealth Journal

— Rare it is when readers of the Commonwealth Journal can’t tell what something is, but apparently a photograph of an odd piece of iron cookware stumped them, and us.

The obviously age-old piece of cast-iron is like a pan about 10 inches in diameter with a rounded edge on the bottom and groves. It has a drip edge and pour spout in the top.

Bill “Turtle” Roberts, a retired Somerset firefighter and well-known photographer, owns the “skillet-like piece.” He had no idea what it was and brought the odd piece to the newspaper office to see if our readers could identify it.

A photograph of the cast-iron item was published with “Your Humble Reporter’s” column a couple of Sunday’s ago.

Strangely, there was no reaction. Nobody called to identify the piece of antiquity.

Unusual, to say the least. Most of the time somebody in our reading audience knows everything.

Roberts took it on his own to find out.

 “The guy I wrote to is supposed to be one of the foremost authorities in the country on cast-iron cookware and has written a couple of collector guides,” Roberts told the Commonwealth Journal.

David G. Smith, dubbed “The Original Panman,” had the answer:

“You have a stove-top broiler,” Smith e-mailed Roberts. “The lid would be removed on the wood or coal kitchen range and the boiler placed over the open hole to the firebox.

“The slight indentations of the ribs would guide the fat and juices into the channel around the broiler so you could pour the juices off for basting, etc.,” Smith wrote.

There now. You know. Don’t we feel better already?