Plate 53
(This plate is still under construction.)


Wash Ice And Ice Skating

Top: Cutting ice from Pelican Lake (circa 1932). Donald wasn't strong enough to last long on the ice saw, but he had to pack it in the ice house and insulate it with sawdust.

Middle: Ice skating party on Little Lake, circa 1933.

Bottom: Driving on ice for skating parties, ice fishing, etc.

Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:

"Pa used to plow gardens and haul wash-ice and wood, etc. for everyone in town when I first remember, and he was the kind every housewife had in for coffee, cake, pie, cookies, doughnuts, etc.

"Hauling wash-ice meant going down to Pelican Lake and sawing out a load of ice chunks about two or three feet square and from one to three feet thick, according to the depth of the ice, with a saw about seven feet long, and delivering them, a team and bobsleigh load at a time, to people's houses.

"He usually dumped the ice off on the north (shady) side of houses so the sun wouldn't melt them. The housewives would chop off chunks and melt them in copper boilers, for soft wash water." [6.32-6]

"Pa told about one time (I think it was before he was married, while he was rooming at Betsy and Ole Johnson's) he accidently stepped backwards into the open hole into about seven feet of water when it was about 20 degrees below zero. [6.33-1]

"He managed to crawl back onto the ice, and he said he didn't feel anything until the water started to run into his shirt collar, but then he started to gasp. He got back on the sleigh, tied the lines together, put them around him, stood up, and ran the horses back to town. He stopped in front of the livery barn, his clothes frozen solid. Somebody came along and put the horses in the barn and he hightailed it to Betsy's and got thawed out." [6.32-2]

"During the Depression, ice skating became popular because it didn't cost anything. Most of the single 'grown-ups' and quite a few married ones, too, kept a place cleaned off for skating on Little Lake, out from the wooded point on the south side. The town people would walk down there. Some drove cars out on the ice when it got safe and there would be a big gang every night.

"We had logs to sit on, a good bonfire, and sometimes we cooked coffee. Some of the older boys like Howard Western, Chester Western, Donovan Grover, etc. even made a deal a couple of times or more and made doughnuts in 'Capper's' City Restaurant in the afternoon. There were marshmallows and wieners (rarely)."[31.183-3]

"During those dry years there wasn't much snow, but the village had a small horse blade for the streets and when it did pile up on the lake I would bring in a team and we would blade the snow into big circles out from the fire site. [31.184-1]

"Skating was considered honorable entertainment and going skating was the first social night life I was allowed to take the car (the 1927 Chevrolet coupe) for. When the ice got safe we drove the cars out on it and that way we could bring some [fire]wood from home and save dragging it from the woods." [31.184-2]