Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My granddaddy, the ice man

Before every home had electricity and a refrigerator, folks kept their food cold by placing a huge block of ice inside an ice box, typically kept in their kitchens.  There was a man who would come around and deliver those blocks of ice.  In Oglethorpe, Georgia, that man was my granddaddy, Lawrence Clark.

I don't know much about my granddaddy as he passed away when my mama was a little girl.  I know he was born in 1894, he grew up in Macon County and served in France in World War I.  He was married and had one child before he met, fell in love and married my grandma and had five babies with her.  He took care of his family by delivering these blocks of ice and by digging and repairing wells, a skill he passed on to my oldest uncle, James, better known as Jiggs, a nickname given to him at birth by Granddaddy.  Granddaddy died in 1957, when Mama had just turned 10 years old, and he's buried in our family cemetery at County Line Baptist Church in Ellaville.

The older I get, the more I want to find out about my family, especially to learn things about those who passed on before I got the chance to meet them.  I know my granddaddy would have loved me.  He would have loved my sassiness.  :)

In my quest to learn more about him, I posted something on our Macon County home folks Facebook page asking for stories and memories and pretty much anything anybody knew about my granddaddy.  Kathy Fountain reminded me that the old ice house still stands beside her daddy's garage.  We were all home today for Brian's daddy, Mr. Harry Godfrey's funeral and I stopped at Mr. Roy Fountain's garage for just a minute to poke around and take some pictures.  Mr. Roy took me over there, opened the door for me and allowed me to take as many pictures as I wanted.  He even gave me a description of what I was seeing.  

Those of you from Oglethorpe recognize this little building!  This was the old ice house where those huge ice blocks were stored until it was time for Granddaddy to load them up and deliver them.

The little building is used mainly for storage now but the pipes and water lines are still intact!


Today was a hot day.  The high was in the 90's and the sun shone all day (no rain, yay!!) but inside that little brick building, it was significantly cooler.  Mr. Roy told me that this is why.  The walls are this thick!  I was amazed at the difference in the temperature.  I don't know when this little ice house was built, I'm guessing the early 1900's, but wasn't it so smart to use bricks and sawdust to insulate??  They had to keep that ice cold and they figured it out!
Mr. Roy showed me this old Nehi drink sign, too, that I LOVED.  He said he's pretty sure it's from the same time Granddaddy was there.  I told him if he ever wanted to sell it, find my mama and daddy and let me know.  I don't think he ever will, though.  I wouldn't.

Next time you open your 'fridge to pour yourself a glass of cold sweet tea, think about my granddaddy and his ice blocks.  They were usually 3 feet by 5 feet cubes and weighed a hundred pounds each.  He had to cut them down to the size that his customers needed.  Wow.  I often wonder what Granddaddy would think about things today.  I would love to sit down and talk to him.  He died in the 50's and everything he knew is pretty much gone now.  Well, everything except his ice house. 


  1. Very neat! I wonder where the ice came from initially, since it doesn't seem to get very cold where you are.

  2. Mama said he picked the ice up in the next town over, Montezuma, and brought it to Oglethorpe to store. I'm guessing it was shipped to Montezuma on a truck from wherever they actually made it. 'Cause nope, it don't get cold where we are!

  3. That is wonderful! Been a long time since I was in the ice house,but you made heaps of memories come back. Thanks and keep digging. Love you.