Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Ice Box

 I'm back here at the library again. I'm blessed to be seated at Julian the computer, but for some reason he has the slows today. Years ago there was a commercial for Nestle's Quick- the chocolate powder that you stir into a glass of milk to flavor it. Anyway, it showed these kids moving in slow motion until they had a glass of Quick- it fixed the slows and they moved at super sonic speed. I wish someone would invent some Quick for computers. It's so frustrating to have something brilliant to write about and the computer won't co-operate. I know how I am- I'm apt to forget whatever witty quote I was about to produce if I don't act on it immediately. Blasted slow computers! I wanted to download a few pictures from the inside of my refrigerator for general discussion purposes, but this computer wouldn't do it, so I have to assume it's for the better anyway. No doubt if the EPA or mayor Bloomberg or some other government watchdog were to get a peek inside I'd be fined for harboring an environmental disaster or for having a grand total of more than thirty two ounces of a soft drink on hand. I think I have five Miller Lite's and a handful of Mike's Hard Lemonade on the the top shelf too, but I guess that's OK to possess, at least right now. For some reason the refrigerator becomes like a long term storage container for certain items. We store the remnants of a previous meal with the full intent of utilizing it the next day, but somehow, things get shuffled around like a deck of cards and what was meant for timely consumption gets forgotten until a distinctly unpleasant order can no longer be ignored and I go searching for the culprit. More than a few times I've run across pineapple chunks that could use a haircut, or some Stove Top stuffing that even the crows wouldn't eat. I'm always amazed that Jan has the courage to sniff items that I'm afraid to even get close to without a bio-hazard suit. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, I've often seen ladies lift a baby's back side up for a whiff to see if a change is in order- something that would leave many men gagging and unable to eat their next meal. I think a spin off of the popular show Storage Wars would be fun to watch. Folks could bid on the contents of a refrigerator and whoever could find enough edible items to come up with a good meal would be the winner. It would be like a combination Storage Wars/ Chopped program. No doubt the ratings would be through the roof. I don't know what it is about refrigerators. I've seen some 'fridges where the only thing that might be safe to consume is the milk in the door, and then only because there is a "sell by" date stamped on the container to check and make sure you don't ingest liquid cottage cheese from a gallon jug. I think one of the worse things that ever happened to refrigerated food was the invention of those opaque  containers that have lids. If you can't see what's in them, you sure aren't going to eat whatever it is. I think they mainly help to contain the smell until you get tired of guessing what's inside and throw it out. Back in the day before refrigerators, many folks had ice boxes. I did a little research on Wikepedia  and found that most ice boxes were made of wood, with the walls lined with tin  or zinc and and packed with assorted insulating materials like sawdust, cork, straw or seaweed. I can't imagine having seaweed jammed inside my refrigerator; it would seem that it would stink after a while, but what do I know? Ice was stored in a compartment on top, and the cold air would drop down and cool off whatever was in the icebox. Ice was harvested from frozen lakes and stored in ice houses and then delivered by an ice man. Some apartment buildings had small doors that opened into the ice box from the back porch. The ice man would deliver the ice through these doors and get paid by the tenants. According to the article, some Amish communities still utilize the ice box. When we lived on the farm at Game Creek there wasn't any electricity for the first five years or so, but I can't recall recall really having too many leftovers that needed stored. We had a root cellar that was above ground that utilized sawdust for insulation, and the creek was close by if something needed to be kept cold so I guess refrigeration wasn't really an issue. In any event, no doubt some day in the distant future there will be teams of archaeologists who specialize in the contents of ancient refrigerators. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of these scientists will be women, most likely those who've had children and have developed strong stomachs.


  1. Funny post, Tom! Yeah, I can commiserate. We always seem to have lots of permanent residents (condiment bottles, soda, and the giant plastic box that corrals the varieties of cheese we always have on hand,etc.), as well as a variety of plastic containers filled with contestants for the ever-popular "Nuke Nite Buffet". Personally, I think the idea ofseaweed insulation stinks...literally! You keep me laughing, Tom - thanks!

  2. Hi Jill- yeah, I've smelled dried seaweed, and I'm personally not wild about the smell. I know that it's harvested here for eating. I guess it's full of iodine. I've tried it before, but I don't like it. How it would be for insulation is anyone's guess. We used to gather kelp at the farm to use in the fields for fertilizer, but I was surprised when I read about it being used in the old iceboxes. I guess if something smelled funky, you wouldn't know if it was the food or the insulation.