Friday, 8 February 2008

Sunday Scribblings # 97 FRIDGE SPACE


Frequently I refer to home " ... as like living in a fridge. In winter it's so cold you can hang a side of beef in the joint for days without fear of it going off." The winter heating bill is massive ... reminder ... check economic heating before winter ... I digress.

Sunday Scribblings prompt reminded me of times when there was no fridge space. Childhood days when we'd hear the clip clopping of the horses hooves on tar roads, knowing the ice man was coming.

In those days fridge space was never a problem, they were a rarity. Ice chests kept food cold. Shopping was done daily. Mother's cooked by the seasons, the weather and the affordability of ice. She's prepare accordingly so by the time father was due home his dinner to be on the table as he walked in the front door.

The ice chest was revered. A wooden cupboard about 15 x 15 inches by three feet tall. There was a top section, insulated with some kind of material that is probably illegal now, where a hinged door lifted up to hold the block of ice. Ice insertion could be compared to turning a fridge on ... NOT!

The door was only opened as needed, ice cost money. No standing in front of it with the door ajar, the light on, peering in, deciding on a cold treat. None of that. The ice chest held the milk, the meat, fish if Dad had caught any, butter if you could afford it and little else. Other food was stored at room temperature. If there was no ice chest a meat safe, a wooden cupboard, with the sides, top and door covered in wire mesh, kept the flies off the meat.

The days the ice man delivered we waited, jiggling for spots, yet scared to death of a hiding if our mother saw us on the road. As the clip clopping drew closer our hearts raced, round the corner came the huge thundering horse, our excitement level rose, we watched, temporarily mesmerised as the lithe, ice man, slung a block of ice up over his shoulder onto a hessian bag all the while, his feet moving, in step with the moving cart then running. As he took off we'd scramble onto the road behind the cart, scavenging for a slither of the glistening ice to suck on, to numb out lips and tongues, to saturate our sleeves.

The scrawniest kid was the lookout. As soon as 'the ico' reappeared we'd be the innocent, angelic Bondi kids, lurking, walking quietly in the gutters, not too close to the horse, waiting, wishing, willing, ice to drop to the roadway. The littlest kids took the biggest risks darting in and under the moving cart. The horse never stopped, it knew the delivery route, it ambled on, bridle and reins dragging, as deliveries were made, while mouths and hands jostled for the drips of freezing water, the nectar of the day. Small feet followed the cart, like a procession, to feel the cold, wet rivulets between our toes.

The naivety and bliss of it all ... enough ... I'm off to Google a heater price the temperature is only twenty degrees tonight ... winter's round the corner ... is that hooves I hear?

21 Comments:

paisley said...

i never lived in the days of the old ice chests,, but i love the look of them,, and would love to have one of the old wooden ones today.......

The Literary Prostitute said...

Wow, you managed to invoke a clear picture of what that must have been like. I wasn't alive for that type of experience, but it's interesting to see how things have changed so radically.

Herb Urban said...

I vaguely remember something resembling an ice chest in our garage when I was very young. My dad was a milkman and would bring home boxes of free ice cream every now and then. I always broke out in hives, discovering later in life I was lactose intolerant, but man was it worth it at the time!

We never had ice delivered though. Stay warm!

Robin said...

What a fascinating and incredibly vivid look into a time gone by. Thank you for sharing it Red.

keith hillman said...

I still use a chest freezer but it's not wooden! Lovely post.

anthonynorth said...

Beautiful memories of yesteryear. My mother didn't have an ice box - we had a freezing pantry. I can also remember her washing clothes in the big tub - we had a fire range with ovens on each side, a hook to hang a pot, and drying rods above to hang clothes on.
You don't get technology that practical nowadays - except in the summer it got too hot.

gautami tripathy said...

Environment friendly. Those were the days.

spaced out

Rena said...

Great descriptions!!
I never knew ice chests involved so much anticipation!

Devil Mood said...

If you'll allow me the pun, that was a heart-warming story ;)
It was really nice to learn about that.

GreenishLady said...

I don't know if anyone in Ireland had iceboxes before the advent of fridges. Our summers aren't hot enough to absolutely need it, I suppose. I remember when we got our first fridge, and the luxury of REALLY cold milk. I loved it.

Heather Kathleen said...

great descriptive post! your writings invite the reader right through a portal and into being a part of it.

Janine said...

Wow, that was just like my mother told me it was! Very evocative post.

I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the changes over my lifetime, so when I add on hers and her parents (still alive and used to live in soddies on the prairies!), my mind expands uncomfortably... :)

tricia stirling said...

wonderful memories! And how interesting, you know, i so totally take my fridge for granted, i see that now.

Patois said...

What an excellent telling of the times gone by. I would have been willing that ice to fall as well.

Cricket's Hearth said...

Interesting - my post is about ice boxes also. This was fyn to read.

Heather said...

What a beautiful memory of bygone days! Thank you for sharing that. I almost feel like I was there...

Wonderful take on the fridge space theme. ;o)

tumblewords said...

I so enjoyed reading this post - your memories translate into delightful words and imagery! Thanks!

The Alchemist said...

I can alays rely on you to provide these interesting bits of nostalga. It was like it was yesterday. We had an ice box as weel and like you we would wait in hiding for the iceman to disappear so we could run up and scavenge slivers of ice to cool the hot July days. You gave me an idea for a post of my own. My muse had escaped me until I read yours. Where I live we can store food out side for months not days and still do when freezer space is at a premium.

Mare Freeborn said...

My Mom told me stories like this.

LittleWing said...

thanks for opening a door to the past often forgotten in the need of progress..

sarala said...

An ice chest, wow, I have only seen them in antique stores. I vaguely remember when milk still got delivered and gas cost 28 cents a gallon and, and, . . . . there was no internet. Hard to imagine.

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