What is 'putting up ice'?

Do you know how to "put up" ice? Well, now I know how.

Some of the newest treasures donated to the Dayton Museum are diaries written between 1919 to the 1950s by Dayton resident Emma Nevada Loftus.

Repeated year after year in the diaries is the statement "putting up ice." Boy, were the temperatures she recorded cold in January and February, hovering at times around zero degrees each morning!

When Emma mentions the Italians were putting up ice, one wonders exactly what they were doing. Well, they were cutting ice from ponds located around Dayton, placing it into ice houses and root cellars for summer use to keep food cold, and for use in a freezer of ice cream for special occasions. Emma even mentions how thick the ice was at cutting.

One of the things that struck me about those cold winter months was the number of people Emma knew who were sick and died of pneumonia or flu. Seems every few days someone fell ill or died, a fact she recorded so matter-of-factly. There was no mention of the people seeing a doctor and seldom did anyone get help. But she recorded the concern people felt for each other and how they looked in on one another every day to help if possible.

Another thing that struck me was what people did for entertainment. Emma mentions having others over for dinner or going to friends' houses to share the evening meal. It seems people looked out for one another back in the 1920s far more often they do now; although I can't complain about folks caring.

I hope the Dayton Museum Historical Society is able to copy Emma's diaries so everyone can read them. Meanwhile, I'll report snippets out of them from time to time.

The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. It's also the location of the Dayton Chamber office. It is open during the week at random hours and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1- 4 p.m. Check out daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.

n Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.


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