From the Curator
Ice Box in the Window
In the post Civil War period, the window refrigerator came into use. There was no electricity back then. Ice was taken from the rivers and ponds, cut into blocks and stored in insulated buildings for summer use. In the winter months the window box was most popular.
This box was rat and insect free, home made or manufactured, plain or fancy, with or without shelves. Once the unit was mounted on the widow frame it could stay there.
The food was kept cold and frozen for later use. No electricity was needed. All you had to do was lift the window up, pull in your leftovers, close the sliding door and pull down the window.
When cold weather abated, it was time to start using the Ice Box, a zinc-lined wooden box that acted as a cooler and was kept inside. The ice was stored in the top part of the Ice Box and the food was kept in a compartment in the bottom.
The Ice Box would keep your food reasonably cold and you also had ice for drinks. There was a problem with this system though, since ice made from river water or pond water could be contaminated and cause or spread disease.
The first ice wagons were on steel wheels, then later on rubber tires. The ice man's horse knew all the stops so any new delivery man just followed the horse and delivered the ice although not everyone could afford ice delivered to their ice box.
We had an Ice Box. The Iceman filled it three times a week. It had a drain pan that had to be emptied about twice a day or you had an overflow and a mess to clean up. Ice was a door to door service and a 25-lb. block of ice would last about three days.
The Ice Wagon was always a popular place for kids to congregate. No treat was better on a hot day than a nice piece of ice to suck on.
The invention of Freon by General Motors in 1914 made the modern refrigerator and air conditioning possible. Ice was being delivered in the cities as late as 1960 but by then Ice Boxes were disappearing from homes.
During the 193Os, The Westinghouse Corporation employed my Father. One of the benefits, besides a steady job, was the discount given to employees to purchase company products.
This allowed him to purchase a new Westinghouse electric Refrigerator for my mother. She was the only woman on the block with a modern refrigerator and all of the neighbor women visited to see my mother's pride and joy.
General Motors made a refrigerator they called the "FRIDGEDAIR." The name became synonymous with the electric Ice Box. Numerous companies made refrigerators - Sears had the Coldspot, Crosley made the Nash-Kelvanator, there was the Norge and others but housewives always called them the "FRIDGEDAIR".
By John Dudley
Owner & Curator
Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum copyr. 2000 - 2010