KEYWORDS: stove, picnic, gas, camp, can, sterno

Have Faith--Will Camp--Part 7--Stoves, Lanterns & Picnic Tables

David Berg

DFO807-713 July 1979

1. DO YOU KNOW WHAT STERNO IS?—IT'S CANNED HEAT! It really is a sort of wax impregnated with alcohol. It was first developed by the U.S. Army in WWI for cooking in the field & it was put in cans & called "canned heat," or the trade name in the States is Sterno. You just take the lid off the can of Sterno‚ strike a match over it, & up comes a flame of fire that you can actually cook on! You can fry eggs, bacon, heat canned foods, make coffee etc. It's not a very hot fire, but you can cook on it & warm things up. The can itself gets hot as blazes, of course, but therefore,

2. YOU ALSO CAN BUY A LITTLE TINY STERNO STOVE that goes with it, that folds up completely flat, not more than one-half-an-inch thick & only eight inches square! It's a little black tin camp stove that unfolds very cleverly, holds your can of Sterno‚ & has a grill to set your pan or pot on. We used to pay only 65 cents for them, they're probably twice that now.

3. THE CANNED HEAT ITSELF WAS ONLY 25 CENTS FOR A BIG FOUR-INCH CAN‚ but it's probably much more now. There are two sizes, there is the large can about four inches in diameter & three inches high, & then there is a small size that is only about three inches in diameter & two inches high.—It depends on how many you are cooking for & how much you're cooking & how much heat you need. Preferably, get the large cans—they are hotter & with a bigger flame & they cook quicker & faster & last longer, so they're actually more economical.

4. YOU JUST UNFOLD YOUR LITTLE STOVE‚ slip your little can of Sterno right into the bottom, & set your pot on the top! The top of the tiny stove is like a regular stove burner, like the grate above your burner on your gas stove at home. It can hold a sizable frying pan‚ food pot or coffee pot etc. Your little can of Sterno fits inside, & the flame comes up through the grill, & you can set your pots or pans or whatever on top of it & do your cooking in the usual way.

5. YOU CAN COOK TWO OR THREE BREAKFASTS ON A CAN OF STERNO & AT LEAST ONE DINNER, because you usually have two or three different things to cook for dinner, & you only have just this one burner. But we finally got two of them & were using two burners each hot meal‚ which was quicker. You can set up your tiny Sterno Stove almost anywhere—usually we preferred picnic tables. With this little ready-made stove & our canned heat, & our station wagon porch‚ we had a portable living, eating & sleeping quarters, all in our car! We slept two adults & two children & carried our luggage & food as well.

6. TO COOK, WE WOULD USUALLY FIND A PICNIC TABLE IN A PICNIC GROUND. You can usually more easily find picnic grounds right along the highway or in a city park, than campgrounds. Many city parks have picnic grounds where people prepare meals & have picnics on picnic tables‚ & some even have fireplaces or gas stoves! Some of them even have shelters, so if it rains you don't get wet! A few times we even camped out overnight in what was only a picnic ground & wasn't intended to be a camp ground, but was just a wayside picnic ground! Many of them in the U.S. have shelters over the picnic tables, & some of us slept out on the picnic table under the shelter!

7. I REMEMBER MARIA & ME EVEN MAKING LOVE ON ONE OF THOSE PICNIC TABLES ONE NIGHT! So picnic tables are really handy to camp at, if the police don't chase you off for camping overnight! They're not apt to, if you camp late enough at night & leave early enough in the morning. They don't usually bother you‚ as long as you don't stay there & occupy the place all day like a permanent resident, & keep other people from using the picnic table during the day. So that's the way we lived in our car, in what I call car-camping! (Also see "Hotel–Camping!"—Ha!)

8. EVEN WHILE I WAS WORKING WITH TELEVISION & calling on TV & radio stations etc.‚ & had to look well-dressed, prosperous & civilised, we often camped out. I'll never forget one morning when I got up & dragged myself out of the car & was putting on my good suit, & Faithy was squatting on the ground pee-peeing, and Mama Eve was getting out of the car in disarray‚ Hosea in his panties pee-peeing the bushes, etc. So there was I trying to get on my good suit & shirt with white collar & bow tie, all ready to call on the TV station that had arranged to audition our film the next morning.—I had made the appointment the day before by telephone, & then we had gone out camping there in a nearby park for the night.

9. SO IN THE MORNING when we woke up & were getting out of the car & dressing & all, here was this fine-looking young man with his little girl who came to the adjoining playground, & he was there swinging his little girl in the swing. So‚ you can imagine my surprise & embarrassment & his amusement when I walked in all dressed up nice to see the program director that morning in his fancy TV station, here was the same guy that had seen me crawling out of the car that morning & pulling my suit on in the park! We laughed & laughed!—But he said, "Well, I like to go camping with my family, too!"—And I said, "Yes, in the summertime I like to take some of the kids along & go camping." So we both laughed, & he felt so sorry for me‚ he even booked the show!—Rom.8:28:! PTL! But car-camping can have its embarrassing moments!—Car-camping is something almost anybody can do & is very cheap & convenient!

10. YOU LIVE SO CLOSE TO NATURE WHILE YOU ARE CAMPING! You watch the birds & the wild animals & the bugs & the clouds & you're in close contact with the Earth & the weather & all Creation! You really know what's going on outside—which you don't often know in your acclimatised, air-conditioned‚ central-heated civilised city home!

11. LATER ON, WE FOUND A VERY CUTE LITTLE PORTABLE BOTTLED-GAS STOVE we got with our S&H Green Stamps!—Ha! It was not much bigger than our Sterno Stove—about a foot square & four or five inches high. It was very small, light & handy to carry, & ran on these little replaceable butane gas bottles that you can pick up in almost any sporting goods store or even some big markets.

12. THE BOTTLED-GAS STOVE WAS BETTER THAN THE STERNO STOVE because it was hotter & the bottles lasted longer than the cans. They are a little bit more expensive, but they make a good fire. We didn't have to go collecting wood or find a grill-which is particularly inconvenient, if not impossible, if it's wet weather & the wood is all wet & the ground is wet etc. It's hard or nigh impossible to make a fire in wet weather, if you have to collect wood & the wood is all wet. So having your own little portable stove for both cooking & heating is the next most important thing to your sleeping space‚ if you're either car-camping or tent-camping. It's virtually impossible to gather wet wood & try to dry it out & get a fire going in an open fire place in the rain! Forget it!

13. THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF CAMP STOVES: The first one that I can ever remember when I was a child was the old pump-up type of gasoline or petrol camp stove. They still have them & they are still used to some extent, but they are a little bit dangerous. Of course, even bottled-gas is dangerous too. Once in awhile people would get careless with a gasoline stove & it would explode!—But not ours, thank the Lord! My Daddy was very careful how he pumped & lit it, etc. You had to pump up the gas pressure & then you had to carburet the gasoline burner first to get it hot, then you could finally turn on the gas & light the fire. But it had to be kept pumped up. But gasoline was always handy, cheap (10 cents a gallon!) & there was no bottled-gas yet.

14. THERE ARE GASOLINE & BUTANE LANTERNS, ALSO. They are very small, lightweight, handy & give very bright light. Both use what they call a gas mantle, a small asbestos bag about the size of the end of a man's thumb or his testicle, but a bit fragile. Because once a mantle has been properly burned off, so that it gives a nice bright white light, a very brilliant light, the mantle is very fragile & can be easily broken if the lamp is jarred or given a hard knock. Some gas or gasoline lanterns have two mantles, but most of them today only have one.

15. A GAS MANTLE IS A LITTLE CLOTH ASBESTOS BAG that hangs on the gas pipe inside the chimney or glass globe of the lantern, like an old-fashioned coal-oil lantern or kerosene lamp, with a metal lid on top to hold it all firm‚ & usually a handle to carry it by. In the can at the bottom it contains the gasoline or the kerosene‚ or today the butane gas. The gasoline kind you had to pump up the pressure‚ because it had to work on a pressure basis to spew the gasoline through the jet into the carburetor to form a gas that would ignite when you lit it with a match. Then it causes this little cloth asbestos mantle to glow brightly with very brilliant white light. These are the very same mantles that were used in the old gas-lighted houses a hundred years ago!

16. WE USED THESE GAS LANTERNS AS ALL-NIGHT SECURITY LIGHTS IN OUR CAMPS when we had nearly 40 vehicles & 125 people on the road! We would often camp in a circle & put one of these right in the middle to give a nice bright security light all night long. We always had all-night guards, because a lot of us were hippies, & some people didn't like hippies. The cowboys thought it was open season on hippies, & sometimes would even shoot at us or over our heads to try to scare us away!

17. SO WE USUALLY HAD WATCHMEN ON DUTY AT NIGHT, at least two, to keep each other awake by talking & reading to each other, & we would keep a gasoline lantern all-night security light burning. But you don't have to do that in most camps & camp grounds today where there are other campers who have lights or there's moonlight or street lights etc.

18. MOST OF THESE TRAILERS OF CARAVANS HAVE LITTLE PORCH LIGHTS or an outside light over the door that you can leave on all night if you are in a lonely spot & you don't like the security situation too much. We used to have a little night-light kept on all night outside our camper door when we were camped all alone by a lake for months, with no other campers around. Once in awhile a carload of teenagers or drunks would come through yelling & screaming & throwing bottles‚ but thank the Lord, we just prayed & nobody ever molested us!

19. SO IT'S GOOD TO HAVE SOME KIND OF A PORTABLE GAS CAMP STOVE & CAMP LIGHT. Now they've got such cleverly invented new kitchen equipment that you can unfold a whole kitchen from a case the size of a suitcase! It contains a little sink with a drain-board, food & utensils cupboard & a table for your stove with a shelter & windscreen around it.

20. A WINDSCREEN FOR YOUR STOVE IS VERY IMPORTANT, by the way, because often it's so windy out on picnic tables outdoors that the wind will blow your fire out, either your gas fire or especially your Sterno fire, so you need a wind shelter, a windscreen around your little camp stove to screen it from the wind, so that your fire won't blow out.

21. THIS SUITCASE–KITCHEN'S GOT A LITTLE SINK to wash dishes in, a side board for your stove & a little food & utensil cupboard down below—it's amazing! It's really amazing! You'll have to take a look at one at one of the camp stores or Sears or sporting goods stores. They have them in some of the big supermarkets! They fold up into a little case the size of a small suitcase, & only weigh about 20 to 30 pounds—10 or 15 kilos!

22. BEFORE YOU START BUYING YOUR CAMPING EQUIPMENT, get as many books & catalogues & brochures as you can of the different types of camping equipment, in order to properly select what is most useful for your type of camping & what's within your price range. Do a little shopping around at the various camp stores, Sears, sporting goods shops etc. Even some big supermarkets have a camping department where they've got all kinds of camping equipment, even rubber boats, fishing equipment & everything—all kinds of stoves & refrigerators too! You can get little portable refrigerators that have their own little motors or work on gas bottles!