"The ice harvest on Hamilton [Ontario, Canada] Harbour was considered by some to be the first harvest of the year," according to the Hamilton Public Library. "During the winter months the ice companies had to lay up enough ice to get the city residents through the sweltering summer months. Ice harvesters cut out the first blocks as best they can to make an open space. With the removal of each block a longer channel opens. Horses are brought in, and the big ice blocks are towed shoreward along these open channels."
"In fact, ice itself was a huge and important industry in New England in the 1800s," writes Neo in a totally engaging and factually rich post that starts with the reopening of her local New England ice cream stand and ends up teaching -- not preaching -- a geography lesson that puts humorless, fact-free, pc-agenda-driven geography "teachers" like the MSM-lionized Jay Bennish to even more shame than they have already put themselves:
I don't know why the ice cream stand comes first, but it does. It's always a shock to see it happen, because it opens in a season that's really quite indistinguishable from winter -- in fact, it is winter. Last night the thermometer in my car read thirty-five degrees when I passed by, and it actually felt colder outside because there was a bit of a wind, and it was so dark . . . So, what's up with New Englanders and ice cream? . . . I was told that New England has the highest per capita consumption of ice cream in the nation.
Think about it. Not the South, not California: New England, the coldest part of the continental US. It makes no sense, but it appears to be true. Even Harvard Business School says so.
So what IS up with New Englanders and ice cream? Neo suggests it's a cultural product of history and geography, linking to a must-visit website called The Heart of New England "devoted to the lore of this now mostly-forgotten industry":
Harvesting natural ice became big business in New England during the 19th century. The birth of America’s large scale commercial ice industry began in New England in 1805. Frederick Tudor, a Boston merchant, created the first natural ice business in the United States. He shipped ice harvested on a pond in Lynn Massachusetts to the West Indies. Over the next thirty years Tudor made a fortune shipping ice around the world to places like Charleston, New Orleans, Cuba, Calcutta, South America, China and England. British records show that Queen Victoria purchased some ice from Massachusetts in the 1840’s.
Lynn, Massachusetts is just down the pike from us here in Chelsea-by-the-Sea, the very town where we bought chair and curtain fabric last week. We flew over it in a two-person helicopter and photographed its marshlands and water bodies in our grad-school days last century. Ice formed by Mother Nature on Flax Pond in Lynn two centuries ago was harvested and shipped to the Caribbean by an American entrepreneur. In such unremembered -- by today's trendy "geography" teachers who see our capitalistic economic system "at odds with humanity" -- Adam-Smith moments is the history of freedom writ large. Just ask Glenn Reynolds. Even though we don't normally read snail books, we dipped into his An Army of Davids this morning while en route to the super and therefore without internet access and were delighted with his capsule account of what went wrong:
The divide between workers and financiers led to talk about worker alienation and the perceived problematic separation of labor from ownership of the means of production. This was the foundation of Marxism and of efforts -- universally disastrous -- to replace capitalistm with government-controlled capital in communist countries.
TigerHawk's review of An Army of Davids is -- of course -- totally awesome:
An Army of Davids is a romantic book. Reynolds loves the idea that individuals can defeat the threats against them. In the fifth chapter -- "a pack, not a herd" -- Reynolds writes with particular verve about the capacity and even tendency of humans to preserve civilized habits and responses even in moments of extreme danger. He cites the academic literature that is quite at odds with the popular, Hollywood idea that people panic in a crisis, and looks at the particular case of September 11, both the evacuation of the Twin Towers and the cobbled together response on Flight 93. Before September 11, al Qaeda adapted itself to each change in airline security, and ultimately exploited the critical loophole in the system: the assumption that hijackers would want to survive. Within minutes, a pack of ordinary Americans responded:
But no sooner did the first plane strike the World Trade Center than the hijackers had to confront someone with a swifter learning curve. As Brad Todd noted in a terrific column written just a few days later, American civilians, using items of civilian technology like cell phones and twenty-four-hour news channels, changed tactics and defeated the hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93. These civilians overcame years of patient planning in less than two hours.
American ingenuity conquers all. Oh, how we love our heritage. It rules!
Update: From Goomp in the comments:
The scene of the ice harvest takes me back to my childhood from 1928 to 1931 when trips to Milton, NH gave an opportunity to see just such a harvest on the Milton Five Ponds. On the banks of the ponds next to the railroad track were several wooden ice houses where the ice was stored. A visit on a summer afternoon might witness loading of stored ice into freight cars leaving that evening for Boston.
The good old days.