My earliest memories of an old ice box date back to sometime around 1946 when I was just a small child. Guess I was born with an inquisitive mind. I will always remember opening the door of that old wooden ice box and wondering about that big block of ice. Even wondered what would happen if I took a can of condensed milk which was on a shelf in the box and placed it on top of that huge block of ice. Yes, I still remember standing on my tip toes so that I would be tall enough to reach the top of that ice. I returned later to find that can had started to sink down into the ice.
We lived about three miles northeast of Rowlett, Texas back then. It was a small house on Merritt Road which belonged to my great-grandfather, Robert N. Merritt, whom the road was named after. I remember the ice man, Mr. Hall, pulling up in front of our little house with that big leather apron across his back. He would open his truck door, grab a set of ice hooks and position a block across his back as he headed into the house where he placed either a 25 or 50 pound block into the icebox.
We also had a kerosene heater and a kerosene cookstove. The cookstove was the kind with a large round wick inside each burner. We had to keep the windows open in warmer weather. It was about 1947 that we experienced a plague of grasshoppers. They stripped every blade of grass. There were even reports of grasshoppers trying to eat kitchen curtains.
Our dad, Luther Clyde Foster, was gone a lot during this time. He was in boot camp for several months and then he shipped over seas during World War II. He opened a automobile repair shop once he returned from the war. Then on January 15, 1949 he was in an automobile accident east of Garland. Ice had covered the old Highway 66 (later 67) at Dairy Road. His car collided with another automobile and slid down into the ditch. It wasn’t a serious accident, but his legs were pinned under the seat and he couldn’t escape. A container of gasoline burst into flames and he was burned to death before help could arrive.
I will always remember that day. No one in that part of the country had telephones back then, but someone drove from Garland to notify my grandmother. I was out on the porch when my grandmother pulled up. Even though just a small child I could tell from the look on her face that something very serious had happen.
We moved in with my grandparents, Oscar and Beatrice Pelton Merritt, for a while after that. They had an electric refrigerator. I don’t remember seeing one of those ole wooden old iceboxes after that.