GLOUCESTER — Bill and Diane Anderson seek out the unique when on vacation from their Chicago home.
On Tuesday, when temperatures in New England felt hotter than 100 degrees, they did not escape the heat by dipping their feet in the ocean. They did not plunge into a pool. They stood in an icehouse.
“What’s quirkier than an icehouse on a 95-degree day?” Diane Anderson said. “It just felt so perfect.”
The couple, camera in hand, joined one of two daily tours at Cape Pond Ice Co., where they got to see how industrial-sized blocks of ice are made and stored. Toward the end of the tour, visitors stand in a large icehouse, chilled to 28 degrees, where bagged ice and ice sculptures are stored.
“This is so cool,” Anderson said.
‘We don’t get to spend the entire day in that icehouse.’
Cold was more like it.
For the first couple of minutes, the chill of the icehouse feels refreshing on a day with such heat. But stand there for a minute longer, and it’s time to bring on the sweaters.
Which explains why the Bloom family of Tampa came prepared. Where they are from, temperatures infrequently drop below freezing. But Lou and Nancy Bloom and daughter Sara knew enough to don jackets and sweatshirts over their short-sleeved T-shirts and tank tops before walking into the icehouse.
They are not used to the chilly breath of an icehouse, a tingle all too familiar to New Englanders, but they are used to the heat that has so many wanting to jump into a pool of ice.
“It’s very hot and humid in Florida,” Lou Bloom said of our flirtation Tuesday with 100 degrees. “This is nothing. It is actually very enjoyable.”
Not so enjoyable is hauling 335 pounds of ice into a truck in the heat. That’s exactly what Sam Gale endures most summer days, and Tuesday was no exception. Gale pushed several dozen blocks of ice into a truck bound for the World Trade Center site in New York City.
Construction companies use ice to prevent concrete from setting too quickly amid the summer torpor, a situation that can cause concrete to turn brittle. “The biggest misconception of working in an ice company is everyone thinks you’re always cool,” Gale, 27, said. “But they don’t realize if you have to sling ice into a store or into a truck, you are out in the heat just like everybody else.”
Gale has worked at Cape Pond Ice for the past seven summers and said July and August are the busiest months for the company, especially days when temperatures crest 90 degrees.
“It’s the only place where you can have a snowball fight in the middle of a hot July day,” Gale told the group.
No snowball fights erupted Tuesday. Instead, Gale and some of his colleagues spent a couple of minutes at the loading dock, letting the breeze from the water cool them off.
“We don’t get to spend the entire day in that icehouse,” said Gale, adding that even if they were allowed to, they probably would not enjoy it. “There are no windows, and it’s 28 degrees.”
The Cape Pond Ice team call themselves the “coolest guys around,” but Gale suggested a different description for days such as Tuesday. “We are the coolest guys around,” he said. “But we are also the sweatiest guys around.”
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