Storing Frozen Food In Cold-lockers

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Yvonne Smith, Jan 2, 2023.

  1. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Senior Staff
    Staff Member Senior Staff Greeter Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    14,692
    Likes Received:
    27,314
    I was thinking about this yesterday.
    Back in the early 50’s, most people did not own a freezer, and the refrigerators of that time had what was called an “icebox” at the top of the refrigerator. It was only about a foot square, and would hold the trays of ice for putting in summertime lemonade.

    There was a storage locker for frozen food in Sandpoint, called “Jack’s Lockers”, and that is where my mom kept any food that she wanted to be kept frozen. In the fall, when my dad went deer hunting, the deer meat was kept in the locker, and if mom bought other foods that she wanted to freeze until needed, she put them in that locker.

    The lockers were probably about 2-3 feet square, and in rows several feet high with a pathway down the center, covered in sawdust (to keep people from slipping on an icy floor). They were wood frames with chicken wire dividing each locker, so the cold air could easily blow through all of them and keep everything very cold.

    I remember going with my mom to the lockers, and having to bundle up like it was wintertime, and still freezing while we were in there, so the temperature must have been really, really cold.
    If I complained, she reminded me that I had begged to go along with her, and to stop complaining.

    Eventually, refrigerators had larger freezer sections, and people bought home freezers for meat storage; but before that happened, renting a storage locker was about the only way to keep frozen food.
     
    #1
  2. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Veteran Member
    Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2018
    Messages:
    10,730
    Likes Received:
    19,744
    After my father's death, my mother moved and bought appliances including a freezer. My aunt and uncle, in whose house we rented an apartment, had a locker at the local butcher. After some years my aunt got her own freezer. She learned to depend on the home freezer (chest type) and the locker rent was eventually dropped.
     
    #2
    Alan Sidlo and Yvonne Smith like this.
  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
    Staff Member Senior Staff Greeter Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    24,149
    Likes Received:
    41,997
    My dad had a locker at the butcher's shop, connected to my grandfather's IGA store. The butcher would process the deer that anyone in the family would get during hunting season, and probably any farm animals that were butchered. My understanding was that the butcher would retain a portion of it to sell and, in return, my dad's meat was processed and stored. There may have been money exchanged as well. I'm not sure, as there was a lot that I didn't know about, particularly when it came to the killing of animals. I do know that dad could access his freezer lock-up without having to go into the store, even when the store was closed. Whether that was a service they offered to everyone or whether it had to do with my grandfather owning the IGA store, I don't know.
     
    #3
    Don Alaska likes this.
  4. Teresa Levitt

    Teresa Levitt Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2019
    Messages:
    1,020
    Likes Received:
    1,944
    i don't know about an of those chest lockers...there's a few wild meat process places around here...interesting
     
    #4
  5. Krystal Shay

    Krystal Shay Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    May 16, 2022
    Messages:
    999
    Likes Received:
    2,482
    Locker plants were pretty common, when I was growing up.They slaughtered and processed cows and pigs at the locker plants also. I remember my parents, and most people I knew, rented a freezer box in the locker plant. Not many people had home chest freezers yet. I always liked going into the big freezer with my dad, walking around the maize of isles.
     
    #5
    Don Alaska and Yvonne Smith like this.
  6. Von Jones

    Von Jones Supreme Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2015
    Messages:
    6,456
    Likes Received:
    8,795
    I don't know anything about cold storage lockers but I do remember my grandparents had a cool dark place underneath their house. It was only accessible from outside. I remember having the chance to go down there. All I was focused on was all the jars of fruit, all kinds. I've never forgotten the moment.

    Now when we moved into the house offside the basement there is a 'cold' room.' It is indeed cold and really cold during winter. I discovered this after we moved in and I began to explore every nook and cranny of this house. There was insulation attached to the door which perked my curiosity. I didn't understand it then but I do now. I believe the previous owner stored canning goods there after finding jars and lids laying around. It became a DIY project for me to use it for storage. That's a whole other story.
     
    #6
    John Brunner and Don Alaska like this.
  7. Reen Davis

    Reen Davis Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2022
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    258
    I don't think we had these locker places in the UK , perhaps just a US thing ?
     
    #7
  8. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Senior Staff
    Staff Member Senior Staff Greeter Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    14,692
    Likes Received:
    27,314
    Do you remember how people in England stored any frozen food back before refrigerators had freezer space , @Reen Davis ? Over here, some people probably just shopped for food each week, as they needed it, if they didn’t have a locker to store frozen food in; but people who were farmers and raised their own food, or hunters, would have needed some kind of a place to store a whole beef or sheep after they had it butchered, or the hunter, to store large game.

    I think that before the lockers, people had to find a way to long-term preserve foods, like smoking meats, or packing them in salt or lard. My mom didn’t do that, but I remember Grandma Bailey canning venison and even trout brought home from a fishing trip.
     
    #8
    Von Jones, Reen Davis and Don Alaska like this.
  9. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Veteran Member
    Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2018
    Messages:
    10,730
    Likes Received:
    19,744
    I think @Von Jones was describing a cold cellar, and perhaps that is how it was done in England as well. My grandparents came from Scotland, and they used a cold cellar and a smokehouse to do their storage.
     
    #9
  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
    Staff Member Senior Staff Greeter Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    24,149
    Likes Received:
    41,997
    We had a potato cellar, which, to the best of my memory, was basically a large hole dug into the ground under the house, with a stairway leading down from the kitchen. As I remember it, the walls and the ground were earthen, not concrete. I don't remember what was above (I probably never looked up, afraid of seeing spiders), so I don't know if it was simply the underside of the floor above or if there was something else between the house and the cellar. The steps went down further than what would be required for a crawlspace, I know. Enough potatoes were stored there that they'd last from one season to another, and I think the ones that were still left by planting time became seed potatoes.

    The walls and sides of the potato cellar were earthen, as I remember it, but it was hard-packed, not like simply digging a hole in the ground.

    Although I was sent down into the potato cellar many times in order to get potatoes, I didn't always pay close attention to practical stuff. I think there was an area down there where some of mom's canned stuff was kept, as well. Not store-bought canned stuff, but the stuff she canned. It was mostly potatoes, though, and I hated going down there. There was a light, however. One hanging bulb.

    I think the idea of the potato cellar was to avoid temperatures high enough to cause stuff to rot or low enough to freeze them.
     
    #10
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2023
  11. Nancy Hart

    Nancy Hart Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2018
    Messages:
    10,579
    Likes Received:
    19,727
    The house where my grandmother lived in WV also had a potato cellar. It was dug into the side of a steep hill. Also kept canned fruit and vegetables.
     
    #11
    Von Jones, Reen Davis and Don Alaska like this.
  12. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Senior Staff
    Staff Member Senior Staff Greeter Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    14,692
    Likes Received:
    27,314
    I think that cellars were pretty common in earlier days. The house where i grew up had a cellar , but rather than being under the house, it was a separate small building out behind our house. The ground had been dug down several feet and we had steps to go down into the cellar. The walls were wood, but they were double, as was the roof, and sawdust was in between for insulation. The ceiling was flat, and so all the way between the ceiling and the roof was full of sawdust.
    We kept apples in there over the winter and potatoes, maybe carrots, I don’t really remember for sure. There were shelves along the walls where Grandma Bailey put the food that she canned each summer; and it always smelled like apples when I was down there.
     
    #12
    Von Jones, Reen Davis and Don Alaska like this.
  13. Reen Davis

    Reen Davis Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2022
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    258
    @Yvonne Smith
    I was born 1952 and have very little memory of life in my early years. I'm thinking though that fridges or how my parents
    kept food fresh without one won't have figured much in my mind at that time :D
     
    #13
    Yvonne Smith likes this.
  14. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Senior Staff
    Staff Member Senior Staff Greeter Task Force Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    14,692
    Likes Received:
    27,314
    Yes, I can see where that would be true. My memory is only because my mom did go down to the freezer lockers, and I loved to go along with her, even though it was freezing cold inside there, it was still an adventure; so I remember it.

    The little ice boxes, I remember, too. Back then, ice cream came by the quart and not in half gallons. We had had ice cream for dessert, but since there were ice cube trays in the ice box, there was no place to store the rest of the ice cream, so my mom took it down the street to some people that didn’t have much money and had little kids that she knew would enjoy the ice cream we had left over.
     
    #14
    Von Jones, Reen Davis and Don Alaska like this.
  15. Kate Ellery

    Kate Ellery Supreme Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Messages:
    35,978
    Likes Received:
    7,547
    I remember when chest freezers first came on the market where I lived, I was in my early 20’s however I never seen any shops advertising or selling them, it was a frozen food / freezer scheme where you got the freezer for “ free” but you were obligated to buy so many $$$ of frozen food a month at what I would have imagined was sold at greatly inflated prices.

    The freezers were a tiny chest freezer about waist height and about 2 X 2./12 foot square
    I never got involved in it ,but I remember many having their freezers repossessed cause they couldn’t afford the monthly payments.
     
    #15

Share This Page