Remember When: Iceman

Children watch as an iceman delivers a block of ice to a Washington, D.C., school sometime around 1900.

On summer days, my brothers and I sat on the curb in front of our house waiting for the iceman. We made sure the ice card was up in the living room window. The iceman knew what size ice cake to put in our icebox by the color of the top corner of the ice card.

Other children in our block were waiting at their curbs, too.

The iceman stopped and turned off the truck’s engine. He went to the back of the truck, lifted the sliding door, and hopped into the cold, icy truck bed. He selected the ice cake he wanted, moved it close to the door, and jumped down. He threw a long rubber pad over one shoulder, and with huge ice tongs, pulled the ice to his padded shoulder. Still holding onto the tongs, he carried the ice on his padded shoulder to our back door.

“Iceman! Iceman!” he yelled, and walked in. He put the ice in the ice compartment of our built-in icebox. There was an ice compartment door in the wall of the back porch. The ice could be put into the ice compartment from there.

He had a hard time getting back to the truck because of so many children were waiting for chips of ice. Our bare feet danced on the hot pavement while we waited our turn. He took the time to chip ice for each child before going to the next customer. The ice he chipped was from his own personal ice cake. He was nice. He delivered ice to all the ice boxes in all the houses on his route.

Then, people - including our parents - began to buy refrigerators. The iceman he had fewer and fewer customers. Soon after that, ice was not delivered anymore.

We watched the ice truck the last day it came up our street. The truck got smaller and smaller as it went away, blending in with houses, buildings, and disappeared into the distance.

Sometimes we sat on the curb anyway - remembering.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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