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Family Orders Block of Ice for the Fourth of July

Living in rural Josephine County in the 1920’s meant not having electricity, refrigerators or ice in the summer.  So the Walters family developed a Fourth of July tradition of ordering a 100-pound block of ice and bottled sodas from the ice plant in Grants Pass.

Early in the morning on the Fourth, the family drove their wagon to the railroad station at Leland, Ore. When the morning train arrived, the station agent transferred a block of ice from the train to the platform. The Walters paid the fees, wrapped the ice block in newspaper and gunnysacks and drove home.

They put the ice, still in its wrappings, in the cellar with sodas packed around it.  They placed enough ice chips in an ice cream maker for a gallon of ice cream.  The sodas lasted two or three days and then the remaining small chunks of ice went into iced tea.

Finally, there was nothing left but a wet spot on the cellar floor and memories of ice cream and cold drinks to last until the next Fourth of July.

Source: Walters, Gibb. "The Iceman Cometh No More." Daily Courier 8 July 1991 [Grants Pass Oregon]: A 11. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.