January 30, 2011

When trucks delivered blocks of ice

I was reminded of something when I read Paul Krugman's blog this afternoon. In part, he said:
"Now turn the clock back another 39 years, to 1918 — and you are in a world in which a horse-drawn wagon delivered blocks of ice to your icebox . . ."
And there it was again: the idea that it was only in the early part of the last century that they delivered ice to your home. But I can remember the truck that delivered ice to our building when I was a child in the early 1950s. I remember it distinctly.

I always came close to the truck to watch the men. Stuff like this is the highlight of your day when you're a kid sitting on a stoop. And yes, their truck was drawn by horses (as was the truck of the scissors grinder). First they lifted a big, brown, leather flap that covered the open back of the truck. Inside, it was very cold. Ice blocks were stacked on wooden pallets. It was wonderful in there.

My memories of the truck are summer memories, so the cold in that truck was alluring. Remember, this was in pre-A/C days. I'd always get as close to the truck as I could, just to feel the cool air billowing out. They also had dry ice on which I'd burn my fingers, thinking it great fun.

They used a long, heavy hook to haul the blocks of ice around in the truck. And then they'd put one big block of ice on a large piece of leather. Then they'd wrap the leather around the ice and cinch the long ends together, and grab the ends and throw this package over their shoulder. This is how they carried the ice up the stairs. I loved the ice men though they only grunted at me to get out of their way. Nice, nice ice men.

Over the years, older friends told me I couldn't possibly remember such a thing, that ice deliveries were way before my time. One even told me I must be remembering something I saw in a movie. And now here was Krugman, implying the same thing. So I did the only thing a lad can do in such a situation. I called my mother.

She told me everyone in our building, including us, used ice for refrigeration. There was no one in our whole neighborhood who had an electric refrigerator. I was relieved to hear her say this. So I wasn't crazy after all. I guess modernization hadn't yet reached New York's immigrant communities. 

Just a story running through my head today. I thought I'd pass it on. Anyone else remember ice trucks?

17 comments:

Artichoke Annie said...

I remember a neighbor that had an ice box AND I also remember going to the ice house with my Dad to pick up a big old block of ice to use in our ice cream maker (yes, we hand cranked it - everyone taking turns).

There was a long slide that the block of ice would slide down, being slowed by rubber flaps before emerging on the pick-up dock.

Boy I haven't thought about that in years!!!

PS Weather report - the news is all a twitter about a coming ice storm, the ice man cometh, so if I go missing it means a power outage. I shall read by candlelight.

writenow said...

I don't envy you facing an ice storm. After a big one here, a friend didn't have power for three weeks. Here's hoping your power remains on.

Isn't it awful the way all the stuff we like disappears when the lights go out? We may be a long way from ice trucks but we're still one storm away from the stone age, at least until the power comes back on. Good luck!

Artichoke Annie said...

Watching Solaris at this very moment. Hmmm they still have tan lines in the future? Wonder if Clooney used a booty-double...rofl.

Artichoke Annie said...

Dr. Chris Kelvin makes some great points about the existence of god and attributing 'him' with human characteristics.

writenow said...

I love it when people live-blog a movie! And rest assured, that's no butt-double. Why, he even looks cute in that silver spacesuit! How is that even possible? And she's gorgeous, isn't she? She gets my vote for most beautiful woman in the world.

Artichoke Annie said...

There are some great lines in this movie, which I knew shorthand.

"How long had I been gone, how long had I been back? Does it really matter?"

Artichoke Annie said...

That not symbolic with the hand of god reaching out....is it?

Artichoke Annie said...

She looks a bit like Angelina Jolie, love the lips....and Clooney is always easy on the eyes.

Artichoke Annie said...

Good movie...........thanks for the heads up.

writenow said...

I don't remember the hand of god imagery. You'll have to remind me. I'm glad you liked it. I'll bet if you watch it again someday, you'll notice much more. It has all sorts of depth that it takes a while to see. Each time I watch it, I see something new. And you have to give Clooney credit for directing this thing. Plus the look is GORGEOUS (the music too). The imagery in Solaris haunts me, and I want to go there!

writenow said...

You quoted, "How long had I been gone, how long had I been back? Does it really matter?"

That's during the wonderful period after he gets back, isn't it? I loved the mental monologue he did. Such a cool movie.

Artichoke Annie said...

I will watch it again one of the days. If you remember towards the end of the movie, Dr. Kelvin is lying on the spaceship floor, the little boy appears, Dr. Kelvin reaches out his hand and arm and the boy as well, reminds me of Michelangelo's Hand of God.

writenow said...

As soon as you mentioned the boy and Kelvin, I remembered. I had the same reaction as you: Michelangelo.

I'm going to put a link to these comments in my posted review of Solaris, which I did a while back, though not in depth. Thanks for sharing your reactions.

Misti in Seattle said...

You are right! I too very clearly remember the ice man making deliveries in the 50s and we had an ice box. Our ice man was nicer, though, as he would always give us kids slivers of ice as we all gathered around. This was in Overland, Missouri (suburb of St. Louis).

writenow said...

Hi Misti. It's good to know that someone somewhere also remembers this. I liked the ice man! Thanks for commenting.

Sara Stout said...

My grandmother use to use an icebox in her home and had ice delivered to her on a weekly basis. I remember her showing me how it worked just after she had her first refrigerator installed. I could not believe that she had been working with that for so long. http://www.longbeachice.com/Ice-Delivery-Long-Beach-CA.html

writenow said...

Olden days, fading fast. Thaks for commenting, Sara.