Saturday, January 17, 2009

Epilogue: Presentation to the Brewer Historical Society on Developing an Oral History Project

In my efforts to create some educational resources that The Curran Homestead can use in its outreach to local schools, I have been developing a relationship with some local historical societies and soliticited willing participants to share their personal experiences and histories. In addition to the material culture we have at the Homestead, we have struck on the idea of attaching a voice to both the farm and its holdings of tools and equipment. An ice saw, for instance, doesn't have much educational value unless we can demonstrate how it may have been used and attach some voices of experiences to it.

The idea is that The Homestead's holdings will contribute much more and be more attractive to audiences if we can attach story to them. Using free downloaded software, inexpensive digital recorders, and free website space like blogspot. com and, I have discovered a means to further disseminate our message and our resources to greater numbers via the Internet. This in no way will subordinate the things we already do, but it will add to it. Such digital and Internet resources, as current scholarship tells us, will only increase the desirability of visiting real sites like our own the more.

I have started recording conversations with local people who have a story to tell about the area's past. Some of these are directly linked to the farm, the Currans, Fields Pond, and Orrington of yore. Some are not connected specifically with our site or to the family farm but of life as it was in rural Maine, and The Homestead has and will continue to serve as a steward of that more generalized history too and make the knowledge of that time and place available for new generations and our time.

To start the ball rolling, I recently taped some three hours with Henry Wiswell of Orrington. Mr. Wiswell has a wealth of knowledge about the area's past and farm life of the 40s until the present. His memories also include stories handed down to him from his own elders about life as it was beyond his own lifespan. Much of our recorded conversation made a connection with his own extentive collection of antique tools and farm implements and his life on a family farm in Orrington. These memories have a direct connection with our own holdings of material culture and the identity of our site.

I plan on making an edited version of my conversation with Henry Wiswell available online with photographs of the material culture he speaks of. The longer unedited version ( that will be slightly "cleaned-up" excluding background noise and interference) will be also be available upon request by those wishing to use it for research or further educational purposes. In addition, Mr. Wiswell has worked in recent years to create a printed text that includes his recollections of Maine farm life. These vignettes include such titles as "Skunk Scare," "Soap Making," "Chores," "Potatoes," and the like. I recently spoke with Mr. Wiswell about the possibility of having him read these so that I will have these rich in educational value resources in his own voice. These too would be valuable for the proposed online resource.

As you know, we recently completed two Maine State Archives grants. One of these is an oral history project that includes proposed conversations with Bob Robinson of the Split Rock Forge in Stockton Springs. The grant application we submitted is below on this blog for your perusal. What this will entail is some 25 hours with Mr. Robinson at his forge. He will talk about the tools and equipment he uses in his forge. These conversations will include such things as how, for example, he lights the forge and brings it to the desired temperature to bend and shape metal, among other valuable details about how forges function and how they served the public of the past. Mr. Robinson is thoroughly knowledgeable of the history and application of blacksmithing in general and locally. These conversations will connect with our own holdings of blacksmithing tools and equipment, and, if we get the desired funding we have applied for, our own onsite blacksmithing shed that we have proposed to construct during the summer of 2009.

Our planned "Ice Harvesting Step-Back" is an activity designed to create a situation whereby we use the ice harvesting tools from our holdings in a hands-on learning experience. In our preliminary discussion at the recent board meeting we proposed that we drill several holes in the ice on Fields Pond the night before we meet using a drill auger. We will use these holes as the starting point from which we saw an ice block using one of our two ice saws. we will use a pair of ice tongs to lift the block from the icy water.

Included below is an article that appeared in the July, 1894 edition of DeMorest's Family Magazine recounting how commercial ice harvesting was done. Commmercial ice harvesting was an integral part of worklife in 1890s Orrington. Mr.Wiswell's family had a stake in a major commercial ice harvesting operation, and the Currans or their forebearers of the farm likely had their own smaller enterprise, given the sizeable ice house structure extant on the property. Because we lack all the necessary equipment to recreate how commercial ice harvesting would have been done as detailed in the DeMorest's article, we hope to merely recreate an approximation of how a smaller operation may have realized a block of ice for refrigerating purposes. It will not be of the quality required by urban consumers in the 1890s.

The plan is to cut a block or two and transport them up to the kitchen of the Curran House where one will be placed in the period ice box donated by Cathy Martinage. We will remove the block at that time, for it is only to demonstrate the action on videotape for educational purposes. We will videotape the whole experience and samplings of it will be made available online through one of our blogs, our facebook account, or our website.

Having mentioned the ice harvesting project at the January 13, 2009 meeting of the Brewer Historical Society where I recently spoke, one member offered some information about his own memories of ice block refrigeration. Apparently, there were still some ice harvesters and block suppliers right up until the 1950s in our area. There was one, according to this source, by the name of "Hanscom" who ran such an enterprise in the Brewer area in the 50s. My source knew that the family was still in the area, and that there is a potential for a recorded oral history there if one were to make the overtures to the family.

I was very excited by the BHS meeting, for I was privy to much history that I should have recorded in the past. Having such a learning experience, it is my intention to regularly attend future BHS meetings because there is so much potential for off-the-cuff discussions with those who experienced history first-hand. A formal sit-down for the purpose of taping an oral history requires preparation, planning, and often delay that threatens this resource from ever being realized. So it is my intention to try to do both the taping of conversations at meetings in the future and one-on-one sit-down recordings.

One BHS member was intrigued by the idea, and its potential contribution to already existing projects in the area. He mentioned the work Galen Cole has been doing in regard to World War II veterans speaking with area school children at the Cole Transportation Museum in Bangor. This has been a high profile educational project as many of you have seen the press coverage. The BHS member suggested that an effort might be made to record some of these conversations between kids and the veterans; they presently are not recorded. Irv Marsters had also recently explored this idea in a conversation with me. I met Lawrence "Bud" Lyford at the meeting who, in addition to his experience as a local hardware store owner for 40 years, served in battle during WWII. Our ten minute plus conversation should have been taped for it was stuff that good oral histories are made of, but I plan to meet with Mr. Lyford in the weeks to come.

The record of the family farm in twentieth century history is seemingly incomplete given its prominent role in the lives of so many and the threat of their increasing disapearance from the landscape in our own time. it is still possible to add to the historical record about the role of the family in The Great Depression and WWII through oral history gathering, but given the age of those who experienced it first hand the next five years in critical to such a project.Farmers were not required to do military service during WWII, for example, because it was believed that food production was just as important as military service during wartime, first-hand accounts of the farmer's service during this era is one that has been understated.

In my own experience, I remember stories related to me by my maternal grandmother about my own grandfather's desire to join the Navy as a pilot trainee during World War II. The thought created tensions between my grandparents at the time; the argument being that if he were to go off to war he would be giving up the profitable dairy that both he and my grandmother had worked to acquire and maintain in their 6 years of farming up to that point. The idea was eventually abandoned after much argument. My grandfather developed his dairy during these wartimne years, while my grandmother worked at a DuPont Wartime Production Factory in Pompton Lakes, NJ inspecting the primers on artillery shells in order to save money to buy more cows. They eventually bought a large farm of 280 plus acres of their own after the war in 1947 from a Brooklynite ( who wasn't a farmer) who had seemingly purchased the farm in 1943 to take advantage of military dispensation.

In addition to the above circumstances which were by no means extraordinary, many veterans of World War II were the sons and daughters of farmers. This theme might be worth fucusing on if we were to develop a project to record the stories of surviving veterans from rural eastern Maine in particular. The themes explored in such a project could also connect to other occupations like ice harvesting, logging, maple sugaring, and bee keeping, to name a few, particular to this region. In one oral history interview recently done the interviewee shared his experiences ice harvesting weeks before being shipped off to the Pacific for active duty in 1942. Such interconnectedness of the lives of veterans with rural Maine heritage would be paramount to this project.

Lawrence "Bud" Lyford, who I met at the BHS meeting, was very interested in the idea of sharing his experiences as a WWII veteran and as the owner of a local hardware store for some 40 years. My argument is that access to the octogenarians that would make up the existing pool of WWII veterans participating in Galen Cole's project, which includes bringing area children with veterans for one-on-one question and answer experiences at the Cole Transportation Museum in Bangor would give us access to the earliest first-hand accounts of our community that we would ever hope to capture in an oral history project. The fact that veterans are sharing these stories in a situation already makes the next step of recording them a logical response especially when these numbers specifically with World War II experiences are declining. Such a project would allow a perpetuation of the sharing process between this "greatest generation" and succeeding generations.

What do we do with with these recordings once we have them? My idea is to eventually run a workshop at one or several schools for teachers. I have taught a course for teachers that focused on the use of primary source materials in the classroom through the State Archives and Records Administration in Albany, New York. I would like to introduce strategies for using oral histories in the classroom, and then allow teachers access to the oral histories we have created. Ideally they would pick one of these and create a series of lessons that relate to their current curriculum. I will be creating several model examples for teachers to understand and experience the concept, and how such a project can be applicable to theior classroom. The teachers would have lessons that they have created that make use of these primary source materials. We would make their lessons available in conjunction with the digital recordings online through our Internet presence.

We already have many oral history recordings that were done by the University of Maine in the 1990s on tape cassettes. These include cassettes with Alfred Curran, one of the museum's benefactors himself, as well as others that knew the Currans. I think it a safe bet that not many have or are listening to them, given that cassette players are on the technological wane (and this was recently confirmed by the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences who anticpates the need to digitalize much of the collections spearheaded by Sandy Ives). I am in the process of listening to all of these recordings. I plan to digitize them in the months to come and use them for the models for realizing some direct connections for their use in classroom curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school.

Jean (Schmick-Hopkins), my wife, has had experience with oral histories as a teaching tool as well. Jean was a co-recipient and a facilitator of the S.A.R.A Summer Institute grant with me, and she has some great ideas for realizing such a project with elementary school students having been a teacher of 4th and 5th grade for nearly 15 years and currently a 4th grade teacher at Fairmount Elementary School in Bangor.

David Hanna of the Brewer Historical Society recently sent me the following letter in response to my discussion about all of the above at the January 13, 2009 Brewer Historical Society meeting:

Bob: It is nice to meet with you last evening. You provided us with some exciting ideas. I do a newsletter for the historical society and plan to use this article. Would you please let me know if there is anything you don't like or would change. I am hoping that your oral history project will be successful, and that we can get some of our members to participate. I also would like to see local students somehow involved. Our students are just not adequately educated as to the history of our community. I have also written to Jeff Hamadey, our president, and Phyllis Scribner, our accessions clerk at the Clewley Museum, with the opinion that we could benefit from your expertise in using technology to help promote the museum and the society. Thank you again.

What is your Story??

Dr. Robert Schmick addressed the January 13th meeting of the BHS at Brewer Auditorium. Dr. Schmick's expertise is in developing new technologies for museums and is presently the Director of Education at the Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum. Presently he is obtaining oral histories of individuals in the area and will incorporate taped interviews with pictures into internet accessible programs. This means that an important link to the past will be made available to everyone. Students and members of the community can use present day technology to obtain information from those who have personal recollections of Brewer during the twentieth century and before. Dr. Schmick is willing to tap the history of our members as well as those in the community that have a story to tell.

An Opinion

I would hope that each member of the historical society would reflect on the legacy that could be left to the community of Brewer by contacting Dr. Schmick and discussing the possibility of being recorded for posterity. I am sure that each of you has a recollection of Brewer's past, be it of one of the industries such as lumbering, ice harvesting, brick making, ship building, Eastern Manufacturing, milling, or the myriad of other businesses. In addition you have recollections of events, and stories that could be passed down to future generations. I encourage you to contact Dr. Schmick at 843-5550 or reach him online at

-----David Hanna

Cc: Jeff Hamadey

Monday, January 12, 2009

DeMorest's Family Magazine (July,1894), "A Day on a [an] Ice-Field," by Alvaro Adsitt

The rose vine which climbed the balcony thrusts a spray of creamy blossoms in at my window as if to remind me that it is midsummer. As I lean to smell of them, as one might lean to receive a kiss, there is a rumble and a clatter in the street below, and a yellow-covered vehicle thunders by, upon whose side I read the word "ICE" and straightway my thoughts revert to another and a far different scene and season.

__I see before me a wide expanse of gleaming ice upon which the sun glimmers with a thousand sparkles. Yonder, swaying to and fro as in some mystic dance, go a pair of skaters. If that athletic young man with the bold, black eyes has not yet won the petite fair-haired girl at his side who clings so closely to him, though she is evidently a practised skater, he is more modest than his face betokens. And see how like a frightened gull yonder ice-boat swoops down the wind, swift as the flight of the swallow, leaping and bounding over the hummocks like a greyhound that has sighted his prey!

And hark! From yonder group of men who seem to be so busily at work, comes faintly upon the frosty air a song, a choral as robust, as resonant, as those the sailors sing when their bark is preparing for sea. These are the ice-cutters. No pleasure-seekers these, no makers of festivals, no chevaliers of the ladies but journeymen of nature, laborers who win bread from the fiercest moods of winter, who brave death itself to wrest from the gnomes of the frost the refreshment of thousands while the dog-star rages and the great cities faint under the merciless noon.

__These men sing as they saw and chop and heave, because they are overflowing with health, and because to them the fierce breath that blows from under the North Star is sweeter than the balmy airs from the South; for the midwinter is their harvest time.Come nearer and observe them: big, brawny, honest-eyed fellows, wondering that you should shiver in your furs, though the thermometer marks close upon zero.

Yonder is one with arms bare to the elbows; here is another up to his waist in water upon which the frost-needles collect as he stands; and here is yet another, tugging at a huge cake of ice. Look at him with admiration if you have an eye for physical strength; how the knotted tendons in his great arms and wrists attest the man's vast power. And do you observe he is perspiring, even in this keen air?

__"It is warm work," he tells his neighbor with the ice-saw, who agrees with him.Even during the coldest winter there are but few days during which the ice-harvest may be reaped. The farther north, of course the longer the season; but the farther north you go the farther you get from the your market, and the greater the loss sustained in transportation and storage. So it is not surprising that these men work like engines under full pressure. Besides, as our burly friend, the foreman, observes,

__"You have got to keep movin' or freeze fast."

__Yonder, near the farther shore, where the ice-boats are flitting to and fro and the skaters are wheeling about, there is a narrow strip of ice that the wind has swept clear; but over the larger portion of the frozen expanse the snow has become packed down and partially amalgamated with the mass below.__"All this has to be scraped off before we can begin cutting," our lusty informant tells us. "You couldn't no more cut ice with that rubbish atop of it than you could make a born liar tell the truth, -and, I take it, there ain't nothin' tougher'n that."__A low laugh of rich enjoyment of his own aphorism comes somewhere from the good-natured human jelly, which shakes with the convulsion as if it would liquefy though the thermometer is at zero.

__A long line of horses, each drawing a framework of heavy plank shod with steel, approaches us solemnly. Over the edges of these frames, in general shape triangular with the opening forward, the loose snow rolls and foams like the froth before the bows of a ship.

After the snow is cleared away, the surface of ice beneath, which is more or less porous and uneven, is planed down until the clear, homogeneous body is reached. Sometimes as much as three inches of this "rotten ice" , as it is called, has to be scraped away._"Don't stand still till ye freeze fast, boys," is the good-natured admonition of the foreman as the men pause to exchange a rude jest or a word of gossip and the smoking horses move on again in leisurely procession.

__Our friend tells us that ice must be perfectly clear, and from nine inches to one foot thick, if for home use, and at least twenty inches thick if it is to be exported; since, not withstanding the careful provision made for preserving it, from one-quarter to one-half its weight is lost in transport.

__Where we stand upon this hillock of snow we command a view of the whole busy scene. Ice cutting and harvesting are carried on by exclusively American methods, and with American tools and machinery.__"Who else but Americans could have invented them there?" says our friend, proudly pointing to the saws, plows, harrows, and similar apparatus before us. "Ice is an American institution. English ice is full of holes and so soft it melts if you speak loud; and as for the rest of Europe (he pronounces it "Yurrup") it hain't in sight. In Norway I believe they do have some little fair ice; but one New York hotel would use up the whole crop."

He goes on to tell us that New York and Brooklyn alone use in the neighborhood of three million tons a year, and that we export vast quantities to all parts of the world, in ships built especially for the purpose. __By this time the workmen have taken up their positions near the center of the lake, and the cutting begins. We learn that the ice in the middle of lakes and streams is always harder and purer than that near the shore and is stored by itself as a superior grade. Ice produced in the deep waters of Northern New York and Northern New England is all of high grade; that cut in the Kennebec River is the most celebrated.

__The first process in the cutting is the measuring out of a large square very accurately, the lines being deeply incised with an ice plough. Next, the original square is "marked" in smaller squares or, rather, oblongs, of a known size, generally twenty-four by thirty inches."It won't do to work by rule o'thumb," says the foreman. "The cakes have to be packed exactly, with no waste room. Besides, we can tell to a pound what each cake weighs when we take it out."

__The marker is a sort of harrow drawn by a horse, and provided at the back with an upright which serves both as a guide and as a handle upon which a man walking behind bears his weight so as to cause the teeth with which the left side of the marker is set to bite into the ice as it runs. The right side is a thin runner of steel. This runner is set into one of the plowed lines of the square, the horse is started and the machine travels across the field, the teeth cutting a deep furrow parallel with the side of the square.

Another marker, with its runner set in the groove cut by the teeth of the first, follows, making a second groove. When the square has been marked off thus in one direction, the toothed blades are adjusted to a narrower gauge, and a series of grooves are cut at right angles to the first set. Some markers are provided with several sets of saw-teeth, so that two or more grooves are cut at one time. Those shown in the illustration are of the simpler construction.

Now come the plows. They look like a sort of compound agricultural plow. Into a long, heavy beam are set eight separate blades, or shares, each notched at the bottom. Every plow is drawn by a single horse, and guided by ordinary plow-handles. The blades are set in the grooves made by the markers, and the plowing begins. Is it not a curious sight? See how the particles of ice spout up before the rending blades, like fountains of many-hued jewels blown gracefully before the wind. The surface upon which we stand trembles beneath our feet with a dull, continuous, jarring sound.__The whole square has now been plowed into checkers, each space representing a cake. The next stage is "breaking out". Let us go closer to observe the details.

__"Shall we not be in the way?"__"No," responds the foreman, and "No," say the good-natured, smiling faces of these robust fellows. How is it that laboring or living out-of-doors always seems to make human nature more kindly and genial? - I believe better in every way.So we stand near by and watch these men handle their saws, ice-forks, - heavy, long-tined tridents, - ice hooks, and ice-spades. When a single cake has been broken out, the saw-men begin along the plowed lines, the curious, double-handled saw-blades sliding through the solid substance with marvelous rapidity.

When the ice is very thick the whole cake need not be sawed out; the forks and spades applied to the plowed grooves will cleave it away with perfect accuracy.__The ice is cut away in such a fashion that a long, narrow canal of open water is made, connecting with a water-way always kept free to the shore. As fast as the cakes are severed, men with long-handled hooks seize them and float them down the canal. Let us follow one of these cakes upon its journey.

Along the Hudson and on many lakes and streams, the storage houses are built with their feet in the water, so to say; and in such cases the canals float the ice directly beneath the apparatus which hoists the cakes into the houses. But at the place illustrated, Burlington, on Lake Champlain, the storage buildings are at some distance from the lakeside, and the breakwater intervenes, requiring a deal of sliding, teaming, and skidding before the ice reaches its resting-place.

Here is what looks like a sort of half-finished toboggan slide; a rude, slanting framework of heavy timbers up which the cakes are jerked and pushed, in rapid succession, to the crown of the breakwater, then allowed to rush down upon the opposite side, by dint of their own weight, with a whirr and a flash, till they are skillfully checked at the bottom by workmen ready to receive them as they come.

Pause a moment and note the scene before you. In the foreground, the slide, - not a beautiful object, it is true, though as to its usefulness the incessant clash of the descending cakes speaks loudly; at its foot, the workmen, the rude sledges and the heavy teams; beyond, the snow covered expanse; and still beyond, the snow-covered expanse; and still beyond, the ice-houses turning their peaked ends toward us, steamer landings, factories, sheds, long rows of buildings, a stately dwelling or two, a church spire, the faint blue smoke from tall chimneys, all backgrounded upon a hazy horizon of leafless, wintry-looking forest.

__Now let us go on. We cannot go down the slide, unless you are willing to take undignified passage on one of those swiftly coursing blocks of ice; so we must even crawl down the bank as best as we may, putting our scraped shins and bruised flesh down to the general account of the day's experience.

The rough but highly practicable double-runner sledges are drawn up in succession at the foot of the slide, and as the cakes come down, as if with a frenzied intent to shoot, like unchained meteors, into space beyond, they are deftlly caught, and meekly take their places upon the waiting vehicles. One of these sledges has just received its complement, and starts slowly away, drawn by a pair of stout, hog-maned, awkwardly built, white horses, which, like all of the equine race we have seen here, seem to take their toil philosophically, as a necessary, but not intolerable, evil. The driver stands behind his load, and is, apparently, as deliberate, philosophical, and good-natured as his team.

This load, our friend informs us, weighs seven thousand pounds, - three and a half tons; but then, as the foreman says, "sledding is a heap sight easier than wheeling."__The route from the lake to the storage-houses is between dreary-looking sheds and forbidding fences. It is altogether a depressing aspect. Broken blocks of ice, perhaps the evidences of previous disasters to sled-loads, strew the discolored and frozen track.

__Even the shouts and songs of the drivers as they urge their teams along cannot put cheerfulness into the hopelessly uncomfortable scene. It seems to us, bitter as was the cold upon the lake, that as we enter the court-yard before these enormous wooden erections, strengthened with giant timbers and bound with iron bands, where the ice is stored, the cold becomes more searching and merciless from the proximity of these thousands of tons of crystallized water. There are no windows visible, and nothing that you would call a door. The blank walls and shelving roofs have a repellent air.

__Some of these edifices have an amazing capacity. They hold all the way from twenty thousand to sixty thousand tons. Their walls are double, and the space between is filled with saw dust or other non-conducting material. Only a few boards and loose straw is interposed between the ice and the earth, and one layer is superposed immediately upon the other; but in some of the more improved storage-houses along the Hudson, the earth is coated with tanbark, and there is an additional plank sheathing on the wall packed with tan.

__The cakes are unloaded from the sledges upon a staging. Though these glistening oblongs are very heavy, the men with their long hooks whirl them hither and thither as if they were mere straws.__"It ain't the strength," explains the foreman, who still accompanies us, "it's the knowing the how of it. Put Samson himself up there on that staging for the first time, and tell him to spread himself on those cakes, and I'll venture he'd ask for an unlimited vacation after half an hour's work, besides busting half the cakes, barking his own shins, and smashing the toes of everybody around.

Ice has got to be coaxed; you can't drive it. If you set yourself to make it go one way, it'll be surely go the other; and if you use it rough, look out for legs! For it's bound to get square. But just you tickle it up a bit with your hook, kind of advise it to go the way you want, as if you were anxious for its best interests, and, bless you! You can send it spinning twenty yards wit a twist of your little finger. Just look there. See how that cake runs along, as if it knew where it was to go and was ready to oblige."

__This load, our friend informs us, weighs seven thousand pounds, - three and a half tons; but then, as the foreman says, "sledding is a heap sight easier than wheeling."__The route from the lake to the storage-houses is between dreary-looking sheds and forbidding fences. It is altogether a depressing aspect. Broken blocks of ice, perhaps the evidences of previous disasters to sled-loads, strew the discolored and frozen track.

__As the cakes slide across the staging from the sledges, they are gripped, put into a sling, and hoisted by an ordinary pulley tackle drawn by a team. Up go the masses with a creaking and groaning of blocks; the cake is disengaged and disappears within the dark recesses; the horses back and the sling comes down for another load; and so the hoisting and lowering goes on unremittingly all day.

__The Foreman listens with what seems to us an envious air as we tell him that we have seen ice-houses near the metropolis where the ice was drawn up by inclined plane by steam power and conveyed by other planes, ascending or descending, to all portions of the building, with lightning-like rapidity, so that gangs of twenty men, working vigorously, were scarce able to settle the cakes in place so swiftly did they arrive.__"Well," he observes, with a sigh, " we ain't come to that yet up here. But one thing I can tell you: steam h'isting don't make prime ice; no more do patent fixin's. And we've got prime ice, if we do have to store it by hand and horse-power.

New York's a great place, I allow, and it's got nigh about everything, I reckon; but it ain't got the climate to make first-class, A No. 1, gilt edged, no discount ice."__Having thus relieved his feelings he smiles good-naturedly, and, as if fearing he had wounded our local pride, adds:__"New York air about the center of creation, I'm bound to admit. My nephew Jabez Stephens spent a month there once, and ever since he won't wear nothin' but store clothes. He says a visit to New York is a 'liberal education' ; though after all he can't spell for shucks."

We are now in the ice-house itself. What a gloomy place! And what a deathlike chill strikes to the vitals from those frozen mountains on either hand, upon which the feeble rays of the outer day, finding their way in at the door, glint and sparkle with a weird lustre, such as we are told gleams about an arctic "pack."__We are glad to escape into an intermediate space between two buildings, across which runs a bridge-like gutter, along which men are skidding the ice. Propelled by men with hooks, the heavy cakes are sliding in quick succession with a rumbling noise.

__What manner of men are these that labor in shirt sleeves in those regions whose breath is vaporous ice, where, warmly clad as we are, the very flesh seems quivering upon our bones? Yet yonder robust fellow pauses to pass his arm across his perspiring forehead. And here comes another, wet from head to foot and trailing water after him at every step, - a trail which freezes almost as it falls! As he approaches the foreman he shows his white teeth in a broad smile.__"What's come to you, Joshua Smart?" asks our guide. "Ye look a bit damp."__"Yas, some so, boss," replies the newcomer. "Fell into the consarned canal. Got under the ice, too, and mighty nigh about tuckered out afore they pulled me up."

__"Well," says the foreman, "you must be a blamed fool not to know enough to keep out of the drink where ye've made your living since you were a shaver. Go home and get some dry duds on; and look you, Joshua, don't stop to gab on the way, or you might get cold.

__Joshua Smart departed with a loud slapping of sodden trousers; and presently, having seen all there was to see, we heartily thanked the foreman and made our exit in turn, highly gratified with the result of our expedition, but, at the same time, well pleased to return to a rousing fire of New England hickory logs, and a substantial New England supper which was eaten with appetite wholly unsectional, concluding with a plunge into a billowy New England feather bed, and the dreamless slumber which falls to the lot of the just and the tired.

Alvaro Adsit