Sunday, June 19, 2011

Storm Season

I live in hurricane country and this is our storm season.

Today while driving home from work I noticed an estate sale sign posted on the street where I live. It's hard for me to resist an estate sale, so I didn't. I entered thru the garage of the home, a large two story Tudor. Most of the items had been picked over but there were a few tools, mostly older hand saws and wrenches. Items I'm sure an older man had found useful during his life, now just leftovers for the vultures like me.

I picked a few items and set them aside; a nice clean Latin machete, a rare 24 incher, a 'live' wire trap and two antique kerosene lamps. Here, most folks call them 'hurricane' lamps, however you refer to them they are an essential part of life during storm season. So when I noticed the lamps priced at five dollars each I didn't hesitate whipping out my cash. The lamps are old, probably 19th century. In antique shops you can expect to pay thirty dollars and up for such quality.

The vintage lamps are easy to spot. The burners will screw into the basin, not over the top like most of the newer or reproduction junk so prevalent today. The older lamps will last a lifetime if not abused. The insert into which the burner sits will be made of brass, the oil basin (lower section and stand) cast of thick glass. It isn't hard to find a nice hand blown example of which I own several. If you come across one in an antique shop or flea market and it isn't priced too dear, jump on it.

Many hate the odor, which I find quite pleasant, and insist on burning so called 'lamp oil' sold in those pretty little bottles shelved at the local box stores. It's nothing more than perfumed colored kerosene; a waste of money.

I own close to twenty kerosene lamps of various sizes from the extremely small to the old standard models. When I arrived home today with my new lamps it reminded me I hadn't as yet prepped my lamps for the hurricane season. I took each out and cleaned and topped off the tanks. I keep at least five gallons of kerosene on hand. Kerosene should last you at least five years. I have used twelve year old kerosene without problems, and as of this writing, many of my lamps still have oil in them from six seasons past.

I live by the rule of three, as should you, three ways to cook, three forms of communication, and three forms of light. You get the idea. As such I own both Coleman and kerosene lamps, various forms of flashlights and a gas generator. Never use a Coleman indoors by the way. I can't afford to burn my generator twenty-four hours a day, although I have, it's just too damn pricey. The oil lamps fit the bill.




  1. Hmm. I, too, live in Hurricane country; though, I've never bought hurricane lamps. I wish that I had grabbed up the ones from my late Grandma's place. It just never occurred to me at the time. You've given me the idea to add this to my ongoing junking list. i try to keep a list of things I want so that I make smart buys. I'd wanted a cookie tin and range set shakers for a long time...finally knocked those off the list this summer. Looks like lamps will be a new thing to hunt for ; )

  2. KW,I've experienced grid down periods of up to two weeks, and trust me, the oil lamps made a difference. Thanks for stopping by.