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Random Thoughts of Wendell Smith
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith
Among the joys of late winter is watching the ice on the Wisconsin River and adjoining bottoms disappear. This year most of the local “ice watchers” may have been fishermen waiting for the ice to be safe during what was mostly a warmer than normal winter.
There was a time when ice on the local ponds was harvested to sell or use during the warm months. Those are mostly bygone days, but Vi can remember when an “ice man” made regular stops at their farm in Nebraska, bringing ice to reload the “ice box” in the kitchen.
The era of “ice men” probably disappeared sooner here than was the case further west. The reason – REA electricity arrived in Wisconsin earlier, furnishing energy for farmers and their kitchens. Kerosene lanterns were often the source of home light until about 1950.
Iceboxes became “antiques.” I recall an icebox belonging to my grandparents. It brought more money on an auction than their nearly new electric refrigerator – and the old icebox was shipped to a collector in California.
During our first years in Muscoda, a large old icehouse that had kept ice available well into the summer was a local issue. Some folks viewed the structure as part of local history and should remain in place. Others promoted moving it to Railroad Park where it could be better seen. Eventually the icehouse was dismantled. At that time a few small icehouses remained on private property. Perhaps some of those still stand.
When our kids were young we would enjoy “homemade ice cream.” It was special when we first went to the boat landing, or some other access point, and harvested wild ice to do the job.
Then there was the fun task of cranking a hand-driven freezer to produce the special treat.
Occasionally Vi will ask: “Is our ice cream freezer still in the attic?”
I really don’t know, but someone younger than I might take a look as we approach our 70th wedding anniversary in June.

Special – providing we don’t have to watch an old crank turn an old crank to restart a memory.