When the Ice Man Cometh

My refrigerator died of old age recently. I didn’t have an opportunity to mourn its demise however, because of the rapidly melting food in the freezer. Off I went to one of the stores that advertises appliances ad nauseum. I figured it wouldn’t take long to choose one. Wrong! What faced me was a dizzying array of choices! Ice maker? Ice water and ice available without opening the door? Top or bottom freezer or side by side? Not to mention capacities ranging from appropriate for one person to a small army. I was bewildered.

What would Bubbie have thought of all those features? She had been ecstatic, I recalled, when we purchased our first electric refrigerator, a G.E. with three shelves and a noisy motor mounted on top. We knew we had moved into the 20th century when they hauled away our old icebox, a contraption that necessitated the regular delivery of ice and someone to empty the water that had drained into the pan below every twelve hours.

Whenever we needed more ice, Bubbie would hang a sign in the window indicating that the ice man should make a delivery. We kids marveled at how effortlessly he grabbed the fifty pound block with a pair of giant tongs, lifted it onto one shoulder, and transferred it to a designated shelf in the box. In the heat of the summer, we followed his truck throughout the neighborhood until finally, tired of our begging, he chipped off a cold, dripping wedge for each of us.

Today I know that no better refreshment has ever been available to humankind. Whenever I think of those fast melting, slippery chunks of ice, something compels me to go to the refrigerator for an ice cube, which, sadly, never seems quite as delicious as what we used to get from the ice man.

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