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Columns August 6, 2013  RSS feed

Tales from WannaBea Farm

Joyce Stark Joyce Stark The Iceman Cometh

I looked out the kitchen window to see what Bantay was barking at so wildly. There was a delivery truck turning around in my driveway. A short stake bed truck.

And suddenly I was transported back to my childhood; August and hot as blue blazes and I saw the welcome sight of the ice man coming up the road towards me.

He drove an old truck with a flat bed, stakes on the side holding up the tarpaulin that covered the bed. As he drove through the neighborhood he left a trail of water down the middle of the oyster shell road, barefoot neighborhood children, their tough feet oblivious to the shells, running behind.

As he stopped at a neighbors house the kids gathered round, pushing each other, joking while they waited.

The iceman stepped out of the truck, wearing a thick piece of leather on his shoulder, walked to the back of the truck, smiling at the kids as he threw the tarp aside. He pulled an ice pick from the holster on his side, but no one was intimidated by it. Instead, they knew that a treat was forthcoming.

The iceman began chipping slivers of ice off of a large block of ice, handing a piece to each child who gratefully thanked this man as if he was a hero. And he was a hero in their eyes. This was a special treat in the summer in the 1940’s.

Next he grabbed a wicked looking pair of ice tongs and snapping them around another large block of ice, he pulled it from the truck, hoisting it onto his leather covered shoulder and closing the tarp in one smooth motion.

He walked to the door of our house and knocked. Mama wasn’t home but that didn’t matter, he opened the door and walked in, calling out, “Iceman” as he stepped through the door. Entering the kitchen he opened the old wooden ice box, shoved the small chunk of ice that remained in there towards the back and deposited the new block inside.

The ice box was made of wood, lined with tin and had a very distinctive but not unpleasant smell. Unless Mama put something stinky in it, such as fish or onions, and then the ice would taste fishy, etc.

Fishy tasting iced tea is very unpleasant.

As the ice melted the water would run down into a pan underneath that had to be emptied daily. Watching Mama try to cross the kitchen with that pan was always hilarious to me as no matter how careful she tried to be she would invariably spill it.

Therefore the kitchen was mopped daily….whether it needed it or not.

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