"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Iceman Cometh

With all that is going on around the world, our economy in the tank, Hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast and another 100 degree day for us, we found this article amusing as most of us have never seen an icebox with real ice except in a museum but people lived with them while going through a record high temps for 1936.  Puts things in perspective.
August 26, 2011The iceman comethBy Shirley Ramsey The Norman Transcript 
NORMAN — Summer 1936, media reports, was a record year for high temperatures. Nearly all of the “Boomer” generation and beyond remember hearing their families talk about that summer. No family boasted an air conditioner. The lucky ones owned rotary fans. Others sat under shade trees and fanned furiously. 
Another parallel: In addition to the record heat, the country was sunk deep into a depression. Many newly married couples were caught off guard by hard times. Jobs dried up. Many a newly married moved in with parents and welcomed their first child before they could afford rent.
Something about hard times prompted them to laugh about them later. “Porch talk” always brought forth newly discovered “gems” to entertain the young. 
The following might be included: Dad worked for a time for the WPA. Surprisingly, he had to buy his own shovel. When that job ran out, he might pick cotton, repair cars and chop and stack wood. If it was his lucky day, in 1936, he might have landed a job as “iceman.” 
He could earn more money delivering large blocks of ice to homes one-to-two times a week. Ice went in the top of the now-quaint icebox, while food stayed cooler in the bottom. Latches helped keep the heat out. 
In those days, iceboxes were as apt to be kept on the porch or in another room of the home as they were in the kitchen. An iceman would knock first to be polite, then go on in. In 1936, doors didn’t have locks. 
All icemen wore massive gloves and used huge ice tongs. He would open the top of the wooden icebox with one hand, while holding onto the ice with the other. He would lift the ice up and drop it in. He worked fast to keep the ice from melting. 
An iceman never checked to see if the top of the icebox was clear. He expected it to be ready.
One family iceman recalled a couple of funny scenes — always good for laughs. He was making a usual delivery: top of icebox up, lift ice and drop it in. He didn’t expect to see the block of ice drop with a “plop” into a cake. Icing scattered everywhere. He said he glanced up to see the lady of the house, hands on hips, staring at him angrily. 
Not knowing what to do, he scooped up a finger full of icing and tasted it. “Delicious icing, Mrs. Hooper,” he said. “Sorry about the decoration.” He hurried back to his truck. 
Another interesting delivery by our iceman was to an icebox being kept in a bathroom. He recalled rushing in and opening the top of the box. Until that moment, he had not seen the lady of the house soaking in a tub of water, next to the icebox. 
The iceman thought it was a horrible mistake. Then the lady flashed him a coy smile. Nervous as he became, he managed to get the ice inside the box. 
He grabbed the ice pick from his belt and hacked off a piece of ice. He threw it into the tub of water. 
“I thought you could use more cooling off, Mrs. Weaver,” he told her. “The temperature today is 110, too hot to handle.” 
Laughter surely helped the generations “bond” over their unusual past. Never was there an iceman who missed the chance to tell it all again. They claimed customers were always satisfied. How will the younger generation beat that? 
Shirley Ramsey, a retired OU professor, lives in Norman. 
Source:  Norman Transcript

No comments: