by Laurence Pringle
Ice as a hot commodity? In the days before electric refrigeration, it was exactly that. Laurence Pringle examines the fascinating history of the ice industry, looking at everything from technology that developed and changed across the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (ice elevator anyone?), to labor issues (at least one young woman broke the ice ceiling in the male-dominated field), to economics (from ice as an export to the fact that not every family could afford an ice box). Pringle’s narrative focuses primarily on New England and the East Coast. Rockland Lake, a small, primarily spring-fed lake in New York, was an ice company’s dream—it included a navigable overland route to the Hudson River. From there, the ice could be shipped to New York City, where the coming of the iceman on a hot summer’s day was an event in many neighborhoods. An intriguing range of dynamic visual material accompanies Pringle’s narrative, from advertisements to ice-delivery placards to diagrams of ice tools to photographs of the ice industry in its heyday. Bibliography, source notes, and additional resources round out this cool volume. (Ages 10–14)
CCBC Choices 2013. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013. Used with permission.
Before refrigeration was invented, most people could not store certain kinds of foods for more than a few days. And, in the summertime, chilled milk and cold drinks were rare. But in the winter there was ice frozen in ponds, lakes, and rivers. Starting in the 1830s, people began to harvest ice, store it in ways that limited melting, and transport it to homes and businesses. Eventually, every home, restaurant, and tavern had an ice box, and a huge, vital ice business grew. Author Laurence Pringle describes the key inventions and ideas that helped the ice business flourish. He discusses northern areas of the East and Midwest that were sources of ice and gives details of ice harvesting and storage by focusing on one lake--Rockland Lake, "the ice box of New York City." And he writes of those vital but sometimes controversial workers who delivered the ice to customers. Larry Pringle worked closely with experts and relied on primary documents, including archival photographs, postcards, prints, and drawings.
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