Saturday, May 16, 2009

No.28: The Ice House

The ice house isn't much to look at now, but then it never did look as special as it was.

Today we buy our ice in plastic bags at convenience stores all over town. Back in the day, Tupelo residents visited the ice house on the south end of Broadway and bought ice in double-walled brown paper bags. The ice house crew used huge tongs to drop blocks of ice into the crusher. The crushed ice emptied through a spout into the bags. I remember the special joy of visiting the ice house with my dad and riding home sitting on the 50 pound bag. We bought ice to make hand-cranked freezer ice cream. Of course, the ice cream was the real treat.


  1. John, once again, your have revived a long-forgotten memory. I vividly remember going to the ice house with my Dad. I had never known such a place existed. At that time ice came from those very awkward metal trays with handles you would pull to loosen the ice cubes The idea that ice could be made on a factory scale facinated me. So did the feeling of how cool it was in the warehouse on a hot summer day. We would get ice for the same reason you did, to make ice cream. I remember how much the adults would take advantage of our natural curiosity be letting us take turns at turning the hand cranks. It was novel for about 10 minutes, then your arm started to get tired, but I remember not wanting to let my Dad think I couldn't hack it and turning that crank until the ice cream was ready and my skinny little arm felt like it was going to fall off.

  2. Ah, yes. Before icemakers, we used those metal ice trays, too. The kids at my house drank a lot of milk so we didn't run out of ice too often. When we made freezer ice cream, we got to drink iced tea because there was so much ice left over. I'm not sure if the 50 pound bag was the smallest you could buy, but my dad would have wanted to make sure we had plenty for the ice cream anyway. He was a big proponent of the theory that the more rock salt you used, the faster the mixture would freeze, so he always used a ton of salt.

    And yes, my brother and I did most of the cranking as well. I remember that we took turns until it began to get pretty hard. Then my dad would turn the crank a couple of times and pronounce it ready.

    Good memories, Lon. Keep 'em coming.

  3. Wow...that came from way back. I remember a huge cube of ice -- clear and clean -- not crushed. We would put it into a light green metal ice chest until needed for the ice cream freezer. The ice pick (supplied by the very same ice house many years earlier) was always used by Daddy to make chips small enough to use in the freezer. Rock salt, elbow grease, and time -- voila - ice cream!