Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 12, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Today’s generation hears the term icebox and several things come to mind.  Ice Box (two words) is a hit song, a restaurant, and a skating rink.  I am sure in addition to beer, there are many products and businesses that incorporate this name.

But when I use the term icebox (one word) I am recalling the days of my childhood when such an item was the forerunner of the refrigerator.  For those who lived reasonably close to an ice house, and could afford an icebox, this method of keeping food and milk cold was considered “modern.”

My grandmother, with whom we lived, had an icebox.  It was located on the back porch.  There was no need for electricity.  It simply cooled by the placing of a block of ice in a top section of the box.  The exterior was wood with the interior being of tin.  There was insulation between the two made of either cork or sawdust.  The ice in the top corner would melt during the day and the drip was captured by a catch pan that sat on the floor beneath the icebox.  The pan had to be emptied daily.

I do not know all the arrangements, but I know that most days the ice man delivered a block of ice.  My earliest remembrance was the delivery with a mule and wagon, but for most of my days the ice was delivered in a truck.  Of course, it was not a refrigerated truck.  It was the same truck that was used to transport the ice from the ice plant to the ice house.

In our village, we had an ice house.  It was a small insulated building where ice was delivered from the ice plant.  In a city not far away there was an ice plant.  From here, the formed ice was trucked to various cities that had an ice house from which ice could be purchased.  The trucks had an open bed and the ice was simply covered with canvas.  You could always identify these trucks by the water dripping from the sides and rear.

I was very familiar with the ice house.  I often stopped in for various reasons, and the owner was a family friend.  It was always a cool place in the summer, but when allowed to go to the storage room, it was cold!  There were times when I would go to the ice house to get ice for our family.  I don’t know the reason for some of the trips, but I do know of some.

During the summer I had a coke stand, and I would go with my wagon to purchase ice to cool the drinks.  There were times when we churned ice cream and needed ice.  At the ice house, I would go into the storage room to watch as the ice was broken to the weight I requested.  Generally, the smallest block was 25 pounds.  The ice man, with great skill, would take the ice pick and score the huge block of ice with small stabs until the block would break.  He would continue until the requested size appeared.  It was not weighed, but he knew from the large block that a half, quarter, or smaller would identify the approximate weight.  Purchase was really more about size that actual weight.  He would strap the block with hemp rope to make it easier to carry the ice.  It would be placed in my wagon and I would head for home!

The years passed and we became more modern with the purchase of a refrigerator.  This electric cooling machine was then located in the kitchen.  But it was not called the refrigerator, or the fridge– it was still identified as the icebox!  I was well up in years before the term began to change.  Yet, I still on occasion will call the refrigerator the icebox!  And I imagine some reading this blog do the same thing!

It is a joy to remember the icebox, but probably no one cares to exchange the refrigerator/freezer for the “good ole’ days.”



1 Comment »

  1. Lawson, I remember the icehouse and the ice box as a very young child. Thanks for the memories. Also, Thanks for the books! I have just finished the one on forgiveness and it has helped me a great deal. I have had a lot of changes in my life in the past year and have had to put some things behind me and move on with my life. As I read this book I found it very helpful in looking at the past and toward the future and the subject of forgiveness. Thank Again! I ask for your prayers.


    Comment by Dudley Henry — July 12, 2010 @ 8:35 am | Reply

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