By Buddy Hazell
Not too many of you out there have experienced the excitement of the Ice Man coming down the street. Therefore, I guess this article is primarily for those who grew up in the 20s, 30s and perhaps the early 40s.
When we moved to Houston, we couldn’t afford a refrigerator. So, we took the old icebox we used in Batson. This meant that we had to watch for the Ice Man when he came by. It was summer time, so there was no school and mother had us kids, Sammie, Sue and I take turns watching for him. We watched and watched, every day, and thought he would never come. Finally, on Friday here he came and Sammie sent Sue to tell Mother he was coming; and we ran to stop him.
With Sammie screaming, “Stop! Stop!” I ran right out into the street and into the path of the Ice Man’s truck. I know now that he was used to kids doing this and he was ready for it. As he stopped in front of our house he said, “You kids go get your mother,” but Mother was already coming out the door.
He told Mother that he came by every Friday, and he handed her a cardboard sign with some numbers on it. Some of the numbers were right side up, some were lying on their side and some of them were upside down. I quickly told Mother, “Something is wrong with that sign.” Mother took the sign and held it up and asked, “What number can you read?” I said, “twenty-five.” Then she told all of us that the card was put in the window in the front of the house and whatever number was turned upright would tell the Ice Man how many pounds of ice to leave. Mother then turned the card so that it would read “50,” and the Ice Man got his ice pick and my eyes nearly jumped out of my head.
The Ice Man started stabbing a big block of ice, and when he got through a piece of the block fell off and he said this is 50 pounds. I couldn’t believe it! “How do you know?” I asked. “You don’t have any scales.” He then explained to us kids that the big block of ice weighed 300 pounds and was etched with a saw and if he followed the lines, he could cut out any size he needed. Then he gave each of us a piece of ice to eat and said that we could always have small pieces when he came. We always looked forward to Fridays, because we could have free pieces of ice when “The Ice Man Cometh.”