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Jul 13, 2023

Monday, July 31, 2023

Dr. Ed Iannuccilli, Columnist

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Dr. Ed Iannuccilli, Columnist

The iceman was of average height with rounded shoulders and eyebrows long enough to drift over the tops of his wire-rimmed glasses. Gray hair sprouted from his ears and nose. His chicklet-sized teeth were yellowed from an ever-present cigar. The brim of his fedora sported the stain of hard work.

His flatbed, smelling of oil and cold and with canvas sides cascading from metal hoops, rumbled and hissed to a stop. He descended, slammed the door, spun on the thick sole of his boot, walked to the rear, looked up, and saw a sign. “OK, they need twenty,” he mumbled. He flipped open the canvas, looked into the deep, dark end of the truck, placed his cigar on the edge of the bed, rubbed his palms on his trousers and pulled on his gloves.

Toward the front of the truck were blocks of ice covered with a heavy leather tarpaulin. He slid the tarp, spotted the cake that he wanted and with a long-handled stick, hooked it. Looking over the top of his glasses, he surveyed his catch, and with the skill of a diamond cutter, harvested a piece with a pick that initiated a shockwave that peeled apart a smaller block. He peered over his glasses and droned, “Yup. 20. Jes right.”

With the speed of a gunslinger, he replaced the pick in the hip holster on his belt. I loved to watch him drive that pick through the ice; carving just the right size with small slivers left over for us. “Can I try that?” The pick looked like it might be fun and easy.

“Nope, sorry, son. Jes a bit too dangj-a-rus.” He flipped me a piece of ice.

He draped a rubber cover over his right shoulder, grabbed the tongs that hung on the side of the truck, pierced the sides of the block, paused, grunted and swung it around to his shoulder. Bent to the ground, with beads of melting ice dripping down the rubber cover and hitting the back of his pants and then the heel of his leather boot, he methodically climbed the stairs to the door and knocked. “Ice here.”

He returned to his truck, hooked the tongs, took off his gloves, put them in his back pocket, wiped his hands on his pants, grabbed the cigar, replanted it, and tapped the canvas. “See ya, kids.”

He entered the cab, sat, pushed in the clutch with his left foot, turned the key, tapped the gas with his right, and off he went, his engine rumbling, splashes of water tumbling in his wake.

Our cool neighborhood iceman was soon to be out of a job when everyone converted to the Kelvinator. I doubt that he was disappointed.

Dr. Ed Iannuccilli is the author of three popular memoirs, “Growing up Italian; Grandfather’s Fig Tree and Other Stories”, “What Ever Happened to Sunday Dinner” and “My Story Continues: From Neighborhood to Junior High.” NOW, he has written his fourth book "A Whole Bunch of 500 Word Stories."