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The Iceman

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column appeared in the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, August 18, 2017.

For over a century the ice wagon was a common sight on Exeter’s streets. Hot summer months would find children excitedly skipping to meet the iceman in hopes that he would give them slivers of ice chipped from the huge blocks he delivered to nearly every house. Today, our huge American refrigerators are a focal point in our kitchens. Indeed, staring blankly into an open fridge is almost as common as staring at our phones. The whole idea of refrigeration, be it an icebox or electric refrigerator, is still a fairly new development.

Food spoils in heat. Before the development of the home icebox, people would try to keep food cool by burying it in the ground, storing it in the cellar or floating it in a nearby stream. Farm wives even kept the butter cool by dangling it down the well. None of these methods worked well. Most foods, but particularly milk and dairy …

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