For all that it’s winter, there isn’t a lot of ice at the moment. I’m trying to remember the last time the Delaware fully froze and stayed frozen at all for more than a week, …
For all that it’s winter, there isn’t a lot of ice at the moment. I’m trying to remember the last time the Delaware fully froze and stayed frozen at all for more than a week, but I can’t.
In years past, our rivers and lakes froze into thick sheets of ice good for skating on or cutting up into blocks. The ice was transported from lake or river to icehouses (either large ones for cities or small local ones owned by a family) and stored, covered in straw or sawdust, until it was needed.
Iceboxes are the ancestors of modern refrigerators. Made of wood or metal, they were insulated with sawdust or cork and the inside was lined with zinc. They were kept cold with those chunks of ice. Old housekeeping books warn that food shouldn’t be stored in them longer than a day or two, as their preservation skills may not have been up to those of the electric fridge.
In the country, we put our own ice in the icebox, but in cities, the iceman hauled it by wagon from house to house. In my grandmother’s neighborhood, he let himself into each house, dumped the ice blocks into the fridge, and went on to the next place. A different era, indeed.