On ice boxes

Comment of Cecil’s column today: https://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2644/how-was-ice-made-and-sold-in-pre-industrial-times/. Despite what Cecil suggested at the end that only non-electrified rural areas had ice boxes by 1950, my grandmother living in Philadelphia, electrified probably since 1900, still had an icebox at least until the end of the war. And a horse-drawn truck came around once a week selling ice. By 1950 she (and I guess all her neighbors, had finally bought fridges. I also recall the ice plant. I don’t think they stored winter ice; I think they used giant freezers to make their ice, but I am not sure of that.

I, born in 1948, cannot remember a kitchen icebox (though that’s what we called the refrigerator), but, as modern insulation hadn’t gone on the market, we had a steel picnic icebox about the size of a footlocker that was half given over to one standard-size ice block.

I was born in 1952, and I distinctly remember the iceman coming around three times a week to put a new block of ice in the icebox. I think I was about 6 or 7 years old when we finally got a refrigerator.

Born in 1944. Iceman until 1947, then a new house in Arlington VA with a fridge.

By 1950, almost certainly. How noisy was the plant? An “ice house” only storing the stuff is quite a bit quieter than an “ice plant” where they make it. In The City Boy, Herman Wouk’s second novel, The family business of protagonist 11-year old Herbie Bookbinder is an ice plant. His father called it a 50-tonner, referring to the daily capacity. When he was smaller, Herbie thought it was “50-thunder.”

When I was a kid in the 50’s and 60’s, there were large vending machines for block ice, so somebody was using block ice regularly. I haven’t seen those around for years.

I think I was doing a paper in junior high, and I remember my father telling me that, when he was little (fifties), he remembered his parents having an ice box, and a block of ice would be delivered once a week by truck (no horses). This was in a small city of 60,000 in western MA.

from the article: “An opening at the top vented the latent heat released by melting”

wrong way round - melting requires heat to be transferred from the environment to the solid/liquid

My mother grew up in a very small coal mining village in NE Pennsylvania. In the 1950s many houses still didn’t have electricity, including my grandmother’s.

My grandmother used to tell a story about a persistent vacuum cleaner salesman who pushed his way into the house, set up his machine, then held up the plug and asked “Where can I plug in?” Grammy laughed and told him she didn’t have electricity and neither did a lot of her neighbors.

She had an ice box. A man came around in a horse-drawn cart selling ice. She finally got electricity sometime after 1960 when the iceman’s horse died and he retired. She got one bare light bulb hanging from the kitchen ceiling and ran a long extension cord from it up the stairs to her bedroom – still used kerosene lamps for lighting in the rest of the house.

Also, she never had indoor plumbing; hand pump in the front yard and outhouse in the back. Cooking and heating were with coal stoves.