My son is doing a project in conjunction with his reading of THE GREAT GATSBY, and one of his assignments was to come up with an artifact from the 1920's. We finally settled on our ice door, which has long since been painted over and sealed off, but still bears testament to the fact that ice was once delivered from our very back porch into our extremely old pantry. The fellow above, according to Houston Lifestyles online, was holding a 25 pound chip from a 100 pound block of ice--a common thing that these tough guys had to lug from house to house. (Is this the origin of chip off the old block? I always thought that was a lumberjack's term).
Anyway, the tool in the man's hand was referred to as a pair of ice tongs, and it kept his hands from freezing to the ice and allowed him to keep a good grip on the sometimes slippery substance.
Our ice door looks like this:
According to the Portage County Historical Society,
"A common sight in the years gone by was the iceman and his wagon (later his truck), making deliveries of blocks ice to his subscription customers. A sign was issued to each subscriber; was a two - sided placard indicating ice was needed or not. If ice was required, the iceman would cut a block of the required size with an ice pick, attach tongs to the block with a mighty stroke, and hoist the block onto his shoulder. Icemen were strong (Jim Thorpe, the great Indian football star was an iceman one summer), for they had to carry an average of fifty to one hundred fifty pounds of ice from the wagon to the icebox at each stop."
We knew that our house was old when we bought it (at least 90 or 100 years), and once when we were adding insulation to walls we found that 1920s era newspapers had been stuffed into them to add warmth (and a fire hazard). So it's interesting to have this other connection to an era gone by, especially since our freezer/refrigerator is still in the very pantry to which our ice door connects.
The advent of refrigeration put the ice men out of business, but once they were an important part of every family's week.