As I neared home I went by the water works that stood for years behind the ice plant. That’s where the water for the city was processed and I remember how clean and clear the water looked. It was an in ground reservoir just like a swimming pool. There were two houses on the street next to the water works and Mom and Dad lived in one of them after his retirement.
Up the street from the water works was the ice plant. My Dad worked there for a few years just before we moved to Houston. Some of the fondest memories include the time I spent riding with Dad as he delivered ice to the surrounding rural area. I saw my Dad work as hard as any man should chipping away at large blocks of ice and picking up the 25, 50 or 100 pound blocks that was the standing order of the customers. Ice tongs were wicked but necessary tools of the trade. Using them was as much an art as anything. I was mesmerized by the agility Dad used in handling the slippery cold blocks of crystal clear ice.
On hot days when kids would pass by the ice plant we went up to the scoring saw to get something cool. Huge blocks of ice were made ready for delivery by sending them through this machine that scored them with saws. This allowed the blocks then to be broken into manageable sizes of up to 100 pounds through the use of ice picks. During this process the ‘ice-dust’ would collect on the inside of the metal cover. We could reach inside and scoop out deliciously cooling handfuls of snow like ice. It was so refreshing on those hot days on the way home or just anytime we were in the area.
Just down the street from the ice plant was the railroad crossing. I would walk about a block along the railroad to the next street on which we lived. Just about the time I’d get to that point it seemed a train would come by... Heavy steam locomotives were still in use and I was always amazed at how flattened a penny coin could become when placed on a railroad track and subsequently passed over by the wheels of a heavy steam engine.
Down the hill from the railroad tracks was home. Mom was always there always busy with the chores of everyday life. Washing on Mondays, and ironing on Tuesdays along with a myriad of other things that included canning of our vegetables using pressure cookers and making jellies and preserves from local fruit.
Finally being home was nice. It meant I could run down the street and play with my friend, Alton. I’d always hear and yield to the call from my mom telling me to come home to supper.
Yes, the way home never changed, but was always unique. And the next time in Texas I hope to travel once more that path from school to home. Some things may have changed, but the things that stick in my memory will always be there on the way home.
© Copyright 2007
All Rights Reserved