Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Ice Box

Today, let's take a brief stroll down memory lane and talk about a kitchen contraption referred to by the Chesapeake Bay Family as an ice box.

My paternal grandparents had two ice boxes, which seemed odd to me at the time. The newer one was modern for its time (the 1970s) and lived in the kitchen where my grandmother spent most of her day. The other, identical to the one pictured above, was used as a spare.

I remember everything about that old icebox: the feel of the cold, metal pull-handle; the squeak of the door hinges; the blinding glare of the interior light bulb; the metal grating that served as shelving; the smell.

(This wasn't a bad smell, mind you, just a smell. If you want to talk about a bad smell, take a gander in my ice box. That's more of an odor. A very rank odor. But let's get back on track, shall we?)

Unlike my maternal grandmother, this grandmother wasn't from around these parts. This grandmother, the wife of a general, was a former city slicker who dressed to the nines and served icky things like gelatin molds which had all sorts of eyeballs odd looking tidbits jiggling and wiggling about inside. She always had the latest contraptions, including one of the very first microwaves, which was large enough to house a small family but could fry up a pound of bacon in thirty minutes no time at all.

(Coincidentally, this microwave was manufactured around the same year as the computer I'm currently using. Plus, my monitor can fry my retinas a pound of bacon just as quickly. But let's get back on track, shall we?)

The differences in the two iceboxes mirrored the differences between my grandparents. My grandfather was reliable, dependable, and no-frills like the old icebox. My grandmother was flashy, fancy, and thoroughly modern, like her new icebox.

They both did the job well, these two iceboxes, but I always preferred the older one. Although it lacked all the flash, the pizazz, the widgets, the gadgets, the compartments, and the ice makers, it performed its job reliably, adequately, modestly and honestly.

Sometimes in life that's all you need. Something reliable and dependable without all the fanfare.

I miss that old icebox.


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

p.s. I neglected to say that the photo is from Big Hair Envy's grandmother's kitchen. (Actually, I did say it in an earlier draft of this, but the original opening paragraph became so tedious that I deleted the whole thing and started over; then forgot to mention again where the picture was taken.) It's a beautiful kitchen full of character. Thanks so much to Big Hair Envy for sharing her past with us.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I'm an old ice box.
Great post CBW.
It was indeed a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

Great pictures,CBW you need to quit your Day job. The only "Ice BOX" story I have, My mom put a pad lock on ours to keep us from eating and drinking everything (4 BOYS 17,16 13 and 2) we could go through some food!!!! it took us 3 days to find the Key. My little brother when he was around 10 put a whole (feild Dressed) deer in the ice box once, when my Mom open the door and the thing fell out on her feet, well lets just say it wasn't a good day. Of course I took the blame.My little brother could do no wrong in my eyes. CBW great story.

Mental P Mama said...


Jamie said...

Funny how few people use the term "ice box" anymore. I say ice box and my daughter looks at me and has no clue what I'm talking about. I like the name ice box.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I think we had one just like that in the basement of the farmhouse I grew up in. Or maybe it was the basement apartment I rented in 1990 in DC. One or the other. In any case, if I said "ice box" my kids would look at me and go "huh?", but it wouldn't be the first time I offered up a dated reference that they didn't understand.

Daryl said...

I am definitely one of those new ones with a crisper .. ;-]

big hair envy said...

I think that smell had something to do with the, um, ice... It was LONG before people started putting Arm & Hammer in there, and those odors just kept on giving and giving!!!!

MommyTime said...

This is one of my very favorite photos you have ever posted. It's beautiful. Seriously.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Oh, what a day. What a day. And what a joy to come home after such a day and read these comments.

NNG-This was a great day, like they all are when this group gets together. The best. Counting down the minutes to that train ride.

Anonymous- Your dear mother went to the trouble of procuring and affixing a padlock for the icebox. Then she deliberated and pondered the perfect spot to hide the key. Then three days later, the darlings find the key. Then when she opens the icebox door one day a field-dressed deer spills out? Your mother is a saint! But for taking up for your younger brother, you get huge brownie points. Thank you for making me laugh. Heartily.


Jamie-My kids used to furrow their brows at me too whenever I said "icebox." But I was relentless and persisted in spite of the scoffs. Now, although they don't necessarily use it themselves except on rare occasions, they understand. Don't give up!

Meg-Some of my favorite sentences you've ever written om your blog begin with "Kids?" which is always followed by something along the lines of "Stamps were something we used to communicate with other people via the pony express, just before e-mail was invented but just after dinosaurs roamed the Earth."

Daryl - Yes, you are. Can't wait for you to show this old icebox around The City.

bhe-Girl, you've nailed it. Yes, exactly. The smell came from that ice compartment that was dead center of things, just about at nose level. Not necessarily bad, just a scent.

Mommy Time- Thank you, but I all I did was push a button. BHE's place is so photogenic, it's hard to take a bad picture. It's great to hear from you.

TSannie said...

Is that icebox pink??

Or maybe it's ~puthe~ (my wv)

Country Girl said...

I remember when they used to deliver ice. I was in grade school.

Oy vey.