Welcome to my column, Tales of the North.
My name is John Zentz. My family goes way back in Park Rapids. I have a picture of my grandfather and grandmother seven times removed setting on a porch in Park Rapids.
I will try to tell you what I have seen, the tales I have heard or been told through the years I have happily spent in Park Rapids. I am 87, so I have enjoyed a few years, and more than a few tales.
Minnesota refrigerator – what is it? When I was young, we were not lucky enough or too poor to own a refrigerator such as we know today. So, we had a “Minnesota refrigerator,” called an ice house.
An ice house is a small house, roughly 10 by 10 feet. It has double walls and ceilings. The double walls and the ceiling are all about a foot apart and filled with sawdust, including the door.
In the winter, we would get the ice from the lake, using horses and a large bobsled. The horses had to be shoed with shoes with long spikes, about one-and-half-inches long. This kept the horses from falling on the ice. This also aided the horse in pulling the sled.
My dad would then take an ice saw – much like the two-man wood saw, much longer and the teeth were very far apart. He would saw a block of ice about 3-feet square. Then, using ice tongs, he would clamp them on to the block of ice, put a rope through the handle tied it to the horse and pull it up out of the water and onto the sled.
I and my brothers (I had three) would then ride the sled back to the house, where we would put the ice in the icehouse and cover it up with the sawdust. This was our refrigerator all summer.
Yes, the ice would last all summer long.
My mother would often buy ring baloney, the cheapest meat you could buy in those days. She would hang them in the icehouse. My brothers and I could go to the icehouse break off a piece of baloney and have a snack. Boys, always hungry, surely have a hollow leg; they are hard to fill up.