The Ice Factory

I had a sort of word association moment when I saw this image. I had a flash of memory that had to do with a red wagon, my Mom, a magic slate, and getting a block of ice from the ice factory.

When I was about four years old, we lived in Springdale, Arkansas.  I am not sure, but I think it was on Cedar Street. It was a small bungalow style house with a chain link fence around the back yard and a built in garage. We had a Lassie-type dog who was my best friend in the whole world. I am told that when I had begun to walk, that I would sling an arm over the dogs back and “explore” the neighbourhood. I had that child-like capability to disappear the second my Mom’s back was turned for these jaunts. But I digress.

I remember a hot summer day. We needed a block of ice, I cannot remember why. I get a mental picture of watermelon, but, I think that is a false memory. What I do remember is Mom and me getting my red wagon and taking the long walk to the Springdale ice factory.I do not know why we did not take the green and white Chevy.

I remember us walking down the sidewalks trying to stay in the shade. It was very hot. I pulled the wagon all the way to the factory. I can also see the ice factory. It was right across the street from a “Mom and Pop” store. Mom said we would stop there on the way back from the factory to get something cold to drink.

In those days you could get blocks of ice, or if you wanted to pay a little bit extra, crushed ice. It was generally cheaper to get the blocks and you got a free wooden handled ice pick. It was a lot more frugal to chip your block into pieces than to buy the expensive crushed stuff.

Mom and I took the wagon to the back of the factory where you got your blocks. The nice “ice-man” put a huge block of ice into my wagon and gave my mother two free ice picks. I guess the bigger the block the more picks you got. We then pulled the wagon across the street to the shop and Mom not only got us an ice cold coca-cola a-piece, but she also got me a reward for helping to get the ice.

It was a magic slate. Magic slates were a piece of cardboard about the same size as a sheet of A4 paper. It had a plastic sheet over the front of it. You drew on the sheet with a stylus (a piece of plastic shaped like a small pen). When you had finished your drawing you lifted the sheet and it “erased” your picture. I can still remember my delight at getting this magical toy.

I have written about memory and it’s reluctance to leave our minds. It is amazing that something so trivial as a picture of an ‘old fashioned’ ice cube tray can bring such a strong memory out of hiding.

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