Volume Thirteen

No. 4


Consecutive 52 


Dec. 1972


Published by the Batavia Historical Society


A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.  We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about. WOODROW WILSON The above quote was used at the Masthead of the Newsletter for Vol. 1, No.1, 13 years ago.  Now I am using it for my last Newsletter.  My eyes have failed me so that I can't carryon anymore, so someone else must write the Newsletter. However, the Historical Society is my first love and I will always do everything I can to help it.






Christmas Musical Program

by the Junior High School

arranged by Mike Scardino & Mr. Rotolo, Principal Refreshments: Gustafsons, Talbots and Hamptons


Nominating Committee for officers for 1973Mrs. Svea Erd, Miss Ora Mead, Raymond Patzer


Since our last Newsletter we have received artifacts from the following for which we are most grateful; Mrs. Cornelia Snow, Mrs. Arthur Leske, Nicholas Kronsbruck.  If I have forgotten anyone please forgive me.


John's part II of the Ice Industry will follow but we should acknowledge and thank him for editing 52 Newsletters for us and collecting and dispensing Batavia History, maybe a Thank You Christmas Card from all our members would be appreciated. If there be some weaker one, Give me strength to help him on; If a blinder soul there be, Let me guide him nearer Thee. Make my mortal dreams come true With the work I fain would do. All good befortune you, and every day some ray of golden light fall on your way. (Whittier)


The Directors of the Batavia Historical Society met in the Basement room (which has changed hands) and decided to move our showcases and artifacts, if possible, to a better location and arrange a mini museum until something more permanent is available.  The Batavia Park District has named Dave Sawitoski, to head a Blue Ribbon community committee to formulate plans for the renovation of the Historic C.B. & Q. Depot.  We are unique in R.R. history so we should have a large R.R. display if we have a museum with an old parlor scene, a dining room setting, a kitchen scene, an Indian display, small tools collection, art handicrafts, books, personal history items plus an office.  It is obvious that our temporary mini museum will have to be a permanent project.



The matter of delivering ice to stores and homes was a year-round job, but was much, much more important during the hot weather, of course.  Many families did without ice during the cold weather and kept perishables in their cool or cold basements.  That was before the days of central heating plants.  Now basements are as warm, or warmer than any other room in the house.  One doesn't have to go back too far in time to recall the covered ice-wagons drawn by two rugged horses.  When business was good, two men rode the wagon, one man took the houses on one side of the road, and the other man, the other side, in delivering ice.  Usually the ice man would note the sign in the window, in the proper position with the amount of ice required printed on the top spot.  He would go to the rear of the wagon, step up on the foot-board, throw back the canvas curtain protecting the ice from the sun and haul down a chunk of ice, stacked in the front part of the wagon.  Then he would estimate the amount required, per card, chip and cut off that amount with an ice-pick, axe and saw, weigh it, grab it with the tongs and haul it to the ice-box on his shoulders, protected by a leather apron.  Sometimes the block needed some reduction before it was put in the box, but not often.  


Then he would tear off a coupon with the weight on it of the block just delivered.  The coupon book hung nearby. Oh, I forgot to mention the arrival of the ice-wagon was an enjoyable occasion for the youngsters in the neighborhood.  The minute the ice-wagon came in sight, they were lined up ready to grab any cool, refreshing pieces of ice chipped off and discarded by the iceman.  This was unsanitary, no doubt, but how deliciously cool and who cared about sanitation in those days.  The icemen, most of them, were kindhearted and let the youngsters help themselves.  Many of these icemen were husky school or college students in training for the coming football season.  It was an excellent way to increase one's brawn. The icebox was usually located in the kitchen near the backdoor or in an entryway, convenient for the iceman and also convenient for the emptying of the pan under the box which caught the drippings of the melting ice.  


This pan got full too frequently and sometimes overflowed onto the kitchen floor. When was the use of natural iceboxes replaced by electric or gas refrigerators?  This was over an extended period of time because refrigerators were new-fangled and expensive and many people could not afford them at first.  The last note that I have of ice harvesting on the Pond was in January of 1925.  William Bowron said that there was some ice harvested in 1933 but very little.  Thus closed an industry which brought some financial gain, some healthy outdoor rugged labor and the satisfaction of having one's food and drink preserved in a cool atmosphere.  Another cycle in Batavia's industry gone forever, but, I hope, never to be forgotten. I'll close with a note of humor.  A man recently coming from Sweden, was asked what he did.  He said, "I got a yob on de ice.  I get a dollar a day-hundred day, hundred dollar."