Electric refrigerators to keep food from spoiling did not come into use until after I left Paulding in 1916; the only way we had to keep food from spoiling was to keep it in an icebox, a wooden box with an upper compartment lined with galvanized sheetmetal where the ice was put and a lower one with shelves for the food to be kept from spoiling. The whole top of the box was hinged to allow it to be lifted and the ice put in, 50 to 100 pounds about once a week. The ice extracted heat from the food in the lower cabinet, melted and the water flowed down the pipe and was caught in a pan on the floor-or perhaps into a pipe that allowed the water to drip outdoors. The icebox was not generally kept in the kitchen because of the heat of the kitchen range. A common place for it was on the back porch shaded from the sun's rays.
Paulding's ice came from a square artificial pond that had an island in the center located out beyond the railroad water tank. It was a good place to skate until the ice got about a foot thick. A crew of men and a team of horses would then go out on the ice and saw it into long strips the right width to fit into an ice box. These strips would then be sawed one at a time into blocks four or five feet long and pulled on skids by the horses to the ice house, a large wooden building on the north side of the pond where men with a block and tackle would put then in rows and pack the whole mess in sawdust.
The ice company gave each housewife a large card with numbers on it which could be displayed in a window facing the street to indicate how many pounds of ice she needed. The correct amount was cut off of the long chunks, weighed on scales at the rear of the ice wagon and carried on the iceman's leather covered shoulder into the house and put into the icebox. The ice wagon was nearly always followed by a troop of small fry hoping to catch one of the chips that broke off as the iceman sawed off a the piece to be delivered. When we lived on South Cherry Street I met the ice wagon every day and got to know the iceman well enough that he let me get up on the seat and "drive" the horses. Actually the horses knew the route as well as the iceman did.
The sprinkling wagon was another familiar sight on the streets of my hometown in the summer, especially during long, hot dry spells when the wind would whip up clouds of dust. To keep the dust down the town sprinkling wagon, consisting of a cask about 5 feet in diameter on a wagon bed, traversed all of the city streets sprinkling them with water which sprayed from a pipe at the rear. The men who drove the contraption sat on a seat placed at the front end on top of the cask high above his horses. No attempt was made to remove snow from the streets in the winter. When the snow was deep enough to pack down, people substituted sleighs and bobsleds for vehicles with wheels. The town did have a sort of triangular, wooden snow plow, however, pulled by one horse, which was driven along the sidewalks occasionally but most pedestrians quit using the sidewalks and walked in the street where the snow had been packed by the sled runners.
One of the joys of being young in those days was hitching a ride on a farmer's bobsled, either by hopping onto the rear runners or by tying you sled to the rear of the wagon bed, riding a mile or two into the country, then catching another bobsled back into town. Most farmers were good-natured about their uninvited passengers but once in a while one would chase us off with his whip.
The best place to skate was the icehouse pond as it was kept clear of snow by older boys and men who enjoyed skating. It had a small island in the center where a bonfire was kept burning when many people were on the ice. A few old beams and logs served as seats for putting on your skates. All of us boys had skates which clamped on to our shoes and were always coming off as they were hard to adjust to fit both the sole and. heel at the same time. Later, after I started earning money I bought myself a good pair of shoe skates which eliminated that problem but I then had to carry my street shoes with me while I skated, a big nuisance. Nearly all of the boys preferred racing skates with long, straight runners but I liked figure skates better as they permitted much more freedom in turning and I could skate just as fast as the boys with racers. I got to be a fairly adept figure skater, especially after I went to the U. of Michigan and was able to watch some of the experts perform.
The small pond in Straw's field where we caught pollywogs and garter snakes in the summer time was also a good place for hockey games in the winter when we didn't want to go too far from home. The creek seldom froze solid enough in the center of the stream where the water moved fastest but the edge always froze when the weather was cold, allowing us to skate long distances, two or three miles, into unknown territory both upstream and downstream. I remember one winter when the creek flooded and then froze at the high level. Then, a week or so later, the water went down leaving slabs of ice about three inches thick all over the bottom lands. The slabs broke up into all sorts of odd shapes and we were able to skate all over the landscape. 1913 was the time of the big flood. Flatrock creek rose until it filled its floodplain and Paulding was isolated from the rest of the world for several days. The wooden railroad bridge south of town was damaged and no trains could get through for several days so we had no newspapers.
Last modified on 17 May 2009 @ 14:53