of the most flourishing enterprises in Indianola in the early 1900s
was the storing and delivery of ice. Mr. Elmer, who owned the ice
dock, was the local distributor.
was one of the more energetic teenagers who worked for Mr. Elmer during
the summer months. As delivery boy, he drove a wagon pulled by two
horses. He delivered to the business section of town; the biggest
customers were the saloon, two drugstores and a meat market. The residents
who could afford ice boxes were the other customers on his route.
During the winter
months, ice was taken from the Republican River which flows by the
town in the summer and freezes solid in the winter. The ice was harvested
by scoring it with marking blades and then sawing out the blocks with
long thick saws made for this purpose; the blocks were sledded to
the ice dock and stored in layers in large underground cellars beneath
the ice house. Layers of straw were placed between blocks. The ice
house was a thick walled building and afforded storage until the ice
was brought out of the cellar for the summer months.
about his ice deliveries, Daddy tells of several humorous incidents.
One hot day when a rather buxom maid, who worked for one of the wealthy
aristocrats of the town, proceeded to bawl him out for something about
the delivery, he forgot his usual courtesy and flipped ice water from
a piece of ice he had in his hand in her face. He then made a fast
getaway, running through the door, closing it, jumping onto the wagon
and whipping the horses to a trot.
Another woman, whose husband owned a drugstore, would reward Shorty
with gifts of cigars, quite a luxury for a young man. This is probably
how he started smoking cigars, a habit he held onto until he quit
in middle age.
In another incident, one of Shortys more thoughtful customers
nicely told him to always shut the back door on his way out. Upon
the next delivery the customer reminded him that he had left the door
open and the flies had swarmed in. Daddy said, without really being
too impressed, The devil I did! He was politely reminded
one more time and again replied, The devil I did! At the
next delivery he left the door open and was cussed out and berated
up and down. Shorty resolved after that experience, when people told
him something, he would listen and be responsive so he wouldnt
ever be subjected to such abuse in the future.