EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The days of long ago had many interesting aspects and the recollections of them today is always an absorbing experience.
It has not been too many decades since there were more visitors to the residential areas of the cities and towns and farm homes, as well, who were bent on one type of business or another. Most of them are gone today because business is done in a different manner.
There was the ice man, for instance. Every day, the ice wagons traveled the streets of the city delivering their product to the homes of the community. This was before the day of mechanical refrigeration. Homes had only what were known as ice boxes. A large cake of ice was lifted into the top of the boxes every few days by the ice man during the summer months. Homes had been given ice cards to display in windows at the front or in porches. When ice was needed these cards were displayed and the ice man would stop and bring in the ice.
THE ICE WAGONS WERE a delight to the children on the streets. While the ice man was delivering his product, youngsters would crawl up on the step at the rear of the ice wagons and help themselves to small pieces of ice which were soon in their mouths, without benefit of any sanitary measures to make sure the germs had been eliminated. How the children managed to avoid some of the terrible ailments associated with such germs now we’ll never know. But we never heard of any troubles from this source, as we remember now.
The ice in those days came from the Blanchard River. During the winter months, the ice company would engage in a huge ice-cutting operation on the river and store the ice in big blocks in the old storage house where the Green Mill Gardens once stood. Sawdust was the preservative.
Mechanical refrigeration came into being on a broad scale in the 1920s and the ended the days of the traveling ice men.
Another visitor to the residential areas of the community was the bakery man. Bakery wagons covered the residential areas. The driver was in a lowered center, and in front of and behind were his goods of all kinds. He would travel at a slow pace and his daily visits were a delight to the children who would beg him for a cookie or doughnut.
Then, there was another daily visitor to every street and avenue within the city. He was the man who changed the elements in the electric street lights. He had to make regular rounds to replace the burned-out elements. We can see him yet, proceeding to the wooden poles on the corner and letting down the large light suspended in the center of the thoroughfare by loosening the ropes attached to the poles. He would then inspect the light and make what adjustments were needed, returning afterwards to the pole to put the light back in its accustomed place.
THE TANK WAGONS OF the oil companies were other regular visitors of those days. This was largely before the advent of electricity for homes. Lamps constituted the chief means of lighting within the homes and this made kerosene a necessity. Tank wagons of oil companies would travel the streets and supply residences with quantities of kerosene for their lamps. There were no institutions as filling stations in those days, of course. Grocery stores carried supplies of kerosene, if one wanted to patronize them for such a product. It was more convenient, however, to make use of the traveling wagons usually. They went out of business in the first couple decades of the 20th century, as electricity for homes came into being.