Eyewitness to History: The Ice Man Cometh

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(WBRE/WYOU) — You can get just about anything delivered right to your front door. Before the advent of electricity, families relied on home ice delivery to keep groceries cold in the family icebox.

In this week’s Eyewitness to History, 28/22 photojournalist Joseph Butash dug through the archives and found a story from then-WDAU reporter Sue Miller from the summer of 1984, celebrating the Ice Man cometh.

The Lishok brothers, Frank and Pete make throwing 20 pounds of ice look easy. But then again, they have been doing this for 55 years, since 1929.

“Everybody in those days used ice, because there was no electric refrigeration at that time. Everybody was getting ice. All the stores, all the homes, all the beer gardens. Anybody that had any use for ice, was using ice in those days,” Pete said.

“It comes natural like, you know, people heard we were in business, and you know how it is, and friends call up and so forth. And it started building up, building up, building up until we got it where it was paying us to go out, so that how it started,” Frank said.

Now the boys admit that they are not as young as they used to be. But if you need ice, they still deliver. The modern refrigerator might have frozen out a few customers, but you can still see their bright red truck in downtown Scranton, making the rounds.

They have a system. Pete loads up the buckets from the top. Frank picks up the cold carrier, hoisted up to his shoulder, and he is off, easy as that.

“Them days we used to sell like 25 pounds for a nickel. And we’d carry it up to the third floor, even,” Frank said.

Well, the times may have changed. And the price of ice may have gone up. But the Lishoks they’ll always be around.

“We’re going to do it to stay active,” Frank said.

“You know it just passes time for us. Like, just to have something to do,” Pete said.

Eyewitness News spoke with a local ice distributor, Bayo’s Ice in Swoyersville who tells us 25 pounds of ice that was $1 in 1984 is now $5 retail if you pick it up yourself.

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