Archived Story

I’ll always be thankful for my dad, the ‘ice man’

Published 8:09am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More than once in these last few weeks, someone has mentioned that when we go to the Georgia State Department of Driver’s Services to get our driver’s licenses renewed, for the first time in my lifetime, a notarized birth certificate is required. Many people are irritated by this demand because they do not have a birth certificate and getting one is a hassle.
I happen to have that particular piece of paper. Although I do not have to renew my license for a while, I decided to look for my birth certificate to make sure I could find it.
I found it and there was one bit of information that I knew, but had never seen in writing. It was very interesting. The birth certificate listed my place of birth and the identity of my father and mother, including their occupations.
The occupation that was listed for my father was not farmer, as would be the circumstance for the life into which I was born. Instead, it listed as his occupation the one he had upon my birth; an occupation which simply melted away. That requires some explanation.
On the line for my father’s occupation was the job name, “Ice Man.” Pretty cool, huh?
To most people living today, the occupation of iceman might be hard to understand. Just about all Americans have refrigerators, and most refrigerators have ice makers as part of their freezers. Why, there are even those refrigerators that have, as a part of their doors, those indentions where one simply places a glass and ice falls down a chute.
It is almost impossible to imaging that someone would make a living by getting up early in the morning and load a truck with huge blocks of ice and, then, deliver the ice to homes where the ice would be put into a wooden box for the purpose of keeping some food or drink cool.
As impossible as it seems to our 21st Century minds, that was the case just a few decades ago. Making ice and delivering it to homes was an industry of great prosperity in its time and was the way my father made his living. He was a deliverer of ice and if you asked him “What do you do?” he would have answered, “Tote ice.”
I said that job melted away. That would be literally and figuratively. Like the buggy-whip and the wagon wheel, tongs for toting ice and picks for breaking it apart are tools of the past.
There are many discussions these days about businesses or industries that are disappearing and just what should be the governmental response to these changes. When hearing those discussions, I think about my father’s support of his family as a young man.
Did he ask, “What is going to happen to my family now that the blasted refrigerator is putting me out of business?” I don’t think so. Instead, he put his nose to the grindstone, or maybe to the backend of a mule and plowed forward and as straight as he could. Talk about a disappearing act. That kind of attitude might be what’s disappearing!

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