February 27, 2015

Life before refrigeration

The movie Frozen begins with a scene of men cutting blocks of ice out of a frozen lake. I expect most kids would have forgotten all about the scene by the time the movie ended. But for those who do remember, here's a book that will answer any questions that they may have about it. After all, the movie didn't show them what those ice blocks were used for.

ICE! The Amazing History of the Ice Business 
by Laurence Pringle

Way back in the 1800s, refrigerators didn't exist. People had to resort to underground cellars or ice-cold streams to keep food cold. They also tried drying, smoking, or salting food. But with the invention of ice saws to cut ice from frozen lakes and rivers, and the building of icehouses and iceboxes for storing ice, food could be kept cold almost year-round. 

In his book, Laurence Pringle describes the evolution of the ice business in the United States, particularly in the area surrounding one specific lake, Rockland Lake in New York. With lots of archival pictures, drawings and advertisements, he details the ice harvesting process and how ice was stored and delivered to homes and businesses. The book ends with the advent of modern refrigeration and the melting away of the ice business.

A very interesting, cold-weather read.

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