Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Ice Man Cometh

It was one of those summers in the 30's when I was visiting Aunty in Tunkhannock.  I had my appointed tasks now:  taking my dirty dishes to the kitchen sink, running errands uptown like getting meat from Rosengrant's butcher shop, bringing clothes to be washed to the back porch washing machine and -- a favorite -- hanging the pink diamond-shaped sign in the front window for the ice man. 

When the ice man saw the sign, he would stop his truck and, taking his big tongs, would firmly clamp a shining block of ice from the back of the truck, haul it around to the back porch and carefully put it in our old ice box.  I always got a chunk to suck on, cold and delicious on a hot summer day.

Once, after running out of things to do, my friend Shirley and I and her cousin Dawn decided to sell Koolade.  We pooled our pennies and got a package from up at the American store.  We got an old pitcher from Aunty and some jelly glasses and an old wooden box to put it all on.

Then we made up one quart of neon colored raspberry Koolade and hauled it laboriously out to the curb.  We made a sign "Koolade one cent a glass."  We needed ice.  Aunty took the ice pick and hacked out a good piece off the big square sitting in the ice box.  We ran with it dripping to put it in the pitcher.

The main road through town to Buffalo and Rochester going north and to Stroudsburg and New York going south had relatively little traffic and cars could pull over easily.  Several did and had some of our Koolade.

It was a triumphant moment when we made five cents and I ran up to the store to buy another package.  Business slowed down then but we had done it.  The three entrepreneurs finished the morning sitting on our back steps with more chunks of ice to suck on.

"At this rate," Aunty said, "we'll have to put the sign out again tomorrow."

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