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When ice was precious
Liberty lore
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Every time I have to throw away ice I have a cringing inside me. I cannot help but remember the first nine years of my life that we did not automatically have ice whenever we wanted it. Now, it is very plentiful and we can and do waste it.
It was in 1929 that Fred L. Ginter (1888-1985), a native of Emlenton, Ohio, migrated from South Carolina to Liberty County and built the first steam-powered ice plant in Hinesville for Henry Lowe. It was built next to the Old Liberty County Jail.
Alonzo Walden was the owner and operator of the ice company for many years before it was sold and torn down a few years ago.
Ice was delivered to homes before refrigerators. Every Tuesday and Friday morning around 9:30 without fail an old, olive green 1947 truck pulled up to our front gate. Mr. Curtis Sikes got out and went to the back of his truck and began pulling back the large thick canvas covering. Under the cover were huge blocks of sparkling ice.
We children ran to the truck and watched as he used the sharp ice pick to separate the large block into smaller pieces. He knew that mama ordered 35 cents worth on Tuesday and 75 cents worth on Friday.
About twice during the summer she ordered $1.25 worth of ice. Curtis knew we would be churning ice cream on those days.
He allowed us to pick up the tiny shivers of ice that were chipped off. What a treat!
There were scales on the truck but he had picked so many pieces of ice that he seldom needed to weigh them. He grabbed the blocks of ice with a large set of tongs and went to the back porch.
Mama left the money on top of the green ice box for him. It did not matter if anyone was home or not when he came. He still left the ice and got the money. If it was ice cream day the extra block was placed in the number two washtub and covered up with heavy towels.
In the center of each block was a hunk of yellow stuff that had to be washed off. When we needed ice for tea at mealtime — heaven forbid one to get ice in between times as it was such a precious commodity — we took the ice pick and picked enough ice into a pan to half fill 12 glasses.
Then we took the pan and went to the water shelf next to the kitchen door and pumped fresh water over the ice to wash off the yellow stuff.
The ice was picked in chunks as large as could be placed in the glass as it would melt slower. We had to do all we could to conserve it!
There was seldom any ice left from one visit to the other. We were scolded many times for opening the ice box door and letting the warm air in.
If Mama wanted to make a dish of Jell-O, she made it on the day the ice man came so it was sure to be cold enough to jell. We looked forward to a pretty dish of red Jell-O.
Pepsi Colas bought from the rolling store on Saturday were put into the ice box for several hours to get them cold enough to drink as we could not spare enough ice in a glass.
In the winter, we set large flat pans outside on the water shelf to freeze at night and put it in the ice box in the morning for use. Mama told us that we could have the same thing as a rich man in the winter time — ice water!
I do not know how many years Curtis delivered ice from house to house but I do know that the ice truck came to our house from the time I can remember until I was 9 years old.
It seemed that so many country people finally had electricity and then purchased refrigerators that he could not afford to haul ice anymore. We were saddened by his announcement that he was quitting.
We had electricity in our home since Canoochee hooked it up in 1951 but had never bought a refrigerator. Now, Daddy was forced to buy one. We were so thrilled with it. Two aluminum ice trays came with it but we had to put extra pans to freeze enough ice for our large family.
And we could make Jell-O anytime! It was truly a great blessing to have an electric refrigerator.
Curtis Sikes and other men around this area served their customers very well and were very dependable. They provided an essential service but electricity and modern appliances brought an abrupt end to their chilling jobs.
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