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The Ice Man: the real story PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, July 27, 2013 12:00 AM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS—It’s been 75 years since Arthur Grothouse was hired to work during weekends alongside brothers Leonard and Clarence Lause at the Steinle Brewery Company as an “Ice Man”.

In 1937, Grothouse began helping his dad who worked on the dock at the west side of the brewery. He said people would drive in off of Second Street with their automobiles and park close to the dock. People would place their order, the ice would be cut and loaded into a container in their car.


“Sundays after Mass was a really busy time,” Grothouse sifted through the images in his mind. “Dad would cut blocks of ice and I loaded it so he didn’t have to jump up and down from the dock.”


During the summer of 1938, Grothouse was hired part-time by the brewery to work on weekends. On Saturdays, he and Leonard Lause would get to work very early, load up a Ford pickup with five or six 150- pound cakes of ice and head to Maude’s Restaurant. By 7 a.m., the crew of two were enjoying coffee and a doughnut before running their weekly delivery route.

“First we would get Maude’s ice,” Grothouse said firmly. “Then we would drive up and down Fifth Street hitting all the bars, restaurants and meat markets.”

Grothouse recounted the hours of driving through the streets of Delphos and the rigors of the day-long delivery process.

“Leonard would go in and get the order and I would chop the ice,” he said. “Leonard grabbed the tongs to carry the ice into the business.”

When delivering to a bar like the Rustic on Second Street, the ice blocks had to be chopped up to fit into a container surrounding the coils carrying the beer from the keg to the tap.

“We had to make sure everyone had enough ice through Monday since no one worked on Sunday,” he said.

By the time they were done delivering to the businesses, they had to go back and pick up another cake of ice before clamoring up and down the residential streets delivering ice to residents.

Grothouse explained that the cakes of ice were scored into sections—the smallest being 15 pounds, medium size was 25 pounds and the largest was 50 pounds—and when they pulled up to a house with a card in the window showing the number 15, 25 or 50, they knew exactly what size to cut the ice. Leonard carried the ice into the house and put it into the icebox which had a tube leading from it into a tub that would collect the melted ice water.

His boss, Charles “Butch” Steinle, moved the production of ice from the west side of the building to a big insulated room on the east side, which served as an ice house.

“The huge ice cakes were made by freezing the water in tanks and then a crane overhead would pick the tank up and dump it out on the dock,” Grothouse explained.

People who were not on the regular route would call in and Leonard and Clarence would deliver to them through the week.

“Refrigeration was just coming in,” Grothouse recalled. “We would deliver to the whole town.”

The Lause brothers and Grothouse had added work during the Allen County Fair, which moved to Delphos from Lima in 1922 and made its home as a street fair here until 1948.

“Our route started out the same,” Grothouse explained. “By the time we got to Main Street and drove down past Eighth Street, we had to watch for all the livestock—sheep, hogs, steer—and all the cattle tents set up in the roads.”

In addition, the Steinle Brewery Company supplied and delivered all the beer and ice for the Landeck and Fort Jennings festivals. Grothouse said that the company would supply a six-foot-long container that was loaded with 16-gallon kegs of beer covered in ice with a tap. After delivering the beer, he and Leonard would have to stay at the festival and monitor the kegs, changing them out when they ran dry. Even though there were extra kegs there, it was necessary for them to drive back and forth to the brewery to get more kegs and ice. When Monday rolled around, they had to go back to the festival location and pick up the kegs and taps.

“It was a way to earn a living and I liked it while it lasted,” Grothouse detailed. “We were paid in cash by the hour.”

After graduating from St. John’s in 1939, Grothouse worked a few years delivering furniture and moving families’ belongings from one home to another.

“The day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I enlisted in the Air Force ” Grothouse spoke proudly. “After training in Alaska, we formed a new bomb group and I became Crew Chief of a B-24. We bombed the Philippines.”

Last Updated on Friday, July 26, 2013 11:54 PM

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