I want to tell you about the coal men and the ice men. They’re really two stories so I’ll start with the ice men. When I was a little kid, there weren’t any refrigerators – we had ice boxes. They were kept in the hall so the icemen wouldn’t have to come into the houses to fill the icebox. Everybody had an ice card — which had a front and a back, a top and a bottom — that you could turn over and around to let the iceman know how much ice you wanted. We usually got a 50-60 pound chunk which would last us the week. The iceman had his route, he’d look for his customers and know how much ice to bring in. He used big tongs to pull the ice out of his truck. He’d put a pad on his shoulder and throw that ice up on top. I remember it would start melting as he carried it in and up the stairs. I don’t remember how he got paid but he always kept the icebox full.
So, it was a simple process. The ice-house was on the east side of the river and the north side of North Avenue – now there’s a dormitory there – Northwestern Coal and Ice. Originally, they would cut the ice out of the river and then store it there. We had an ice pick and when we wanted some, we’d just pick it off.
Washington Island did that up until recently. They would cut blocks of ice out of the Lake and put it in the ice house. They had big beds of sawdust to put the ice on so it wouldn’t melt.
Dad, I remember always having an icepick around when we were growing up. You would use it to make an extra hole in our belts.
Right, later on when we moved from Humboldt to the farm, I got a hole punch to use when I needed to tighten up the horses bridles. After that, I used it on our belts. It made a much cleaner hole.