Friday, February 16, 2024

The Ice Man – 1947, Poem by Elizabeth Hearn Milner

The Ice Man

Soft air, wine sweet with heady, floral scent,
slippery seeds of watermelon season,
sidewalks fry-an-egg sizzling hot,
and then came the ice wagon.

Mr. Case, on his high seat,
coming down Kennedy Street
over the hot, chewable-soft tar,
wearing his deer skin apron.
With huge ice tongs and leather carrier,
he shoulders into my mother’s kitchen
his treasure from a local frozen lake.

Bare legs are up and off the prickling curb,
dipping our fingers into the wet, cold sawdust,
finding chips and chunks of chilling winter
to cool our thirsty tongues and dribble
down our sun-browned arms and legs.

Out he comes and scolds us looking fierce.
Then, smiling broadly on the sly, off he goes
clucking and slapping the well-worn reins
against his horse’s fruity, sweating rump.

Elizabeth Hearn Milner

Mr. Bill Case was Aurora’s ice man in the forties and into the early fifties. When I was a little girl, his ice business was on Yonge Street just south of the corner of Church Street. On hot summer days, children in the town would watch for Mr. Case, the ice man, to come along with his horse and wagon in order to get a chip of his lovely, cool ice. We could roll the ice around in our hands, on our arms and faces, suck it and even draw pictures on the sidewalk with it and then watch them gradually disappear. Mr. Case, the ice man, and his wagon is a good memory.

Elizabeth Hearn Milner
Bracebridge, ON

Editor’s Notes: Elizabeth Hearn Milner grew up in Aurora from 1945 to 1965. She is a historian, a lecturer, a writer, and a painter. She has degrees from several universities and has taught for over 30 years. She wrote several books including Aurora 1945-1965, An Ontario Town at a Time of Great Change. This book can be purchased at the Aurora Public Library.


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