Jasper Jennings was born in Houston Co., TX; the son of Wade Jennings and Mona Ruth Moffitt.


Jasper Jennings recounts his memories of working at the Ice House, Crockett, Houston Co., TX as well as other remembrances.

Information courtesy of:  Jasper & Kay Jennings

Sometime prior to 1949, the Ice House in Crockett, Texas was owned by Texas Power & Light. I believe that prior to TP&L owning the Ice House; they generated electricity with coal as fuel at the location on East Houston. Sometime prior to 1949 The Southland Corporation purchased the facility from TP&L.

I believe that TP&L had stopped generating electricity sometime prior to 1949 however they maintained an electrical distribution system and/or measuring devices until sometime later.

The ice making capacity of the facility was 30 tons per 24 hour day. This was accomplished by use of 1 brine tank. This tank contained room for about 480- 300# capacity cans for making ice. (24 cans per row x 20 rows) The temperature was maintained from 10-20* F. Anhydrous Ammonia was used for the refrigerant. Shortly after the Southland Corporation purchased the Ice House, capacity was increased to 60 tons per day. The Southland Corporation purchased a used compressor from a hotel in Dallas that was being demolished. The compressor was manufactured by the Baker Company.

The brine solution was circulated around the cans by means of a propeller similar to one on an outboard boat motor. The liquid refrigerant was allowed to vaporize through critical orifices thus removing heat from the brine solution. Enough salt content was maintained in this solution to prevent freezing of the brine down to 5* F.

I was hired out of the tomato patch by my uncle Alvis Thomas when I was 18 years old. He was the manager of the Ice House before I worked there and remained with them until the mid 1950’s.

My first job was from 7 PM to 6 AM, 7 nights a week. The job was to remove ice from the brine tank by means of an electrical driven hoist--two 300# cans at a time, move them to a slack tank (which provided a means to thaw the ice from the can so the ice would fall out of the can when I dumped it). After the ice was released from the can, it was placed in a tray that dumped onto 2 wooden shuts that permitted the ice to slide into the storage room. At that time there was no electrical control of flows and/or temperatures. It was all done manually.

In the fall and spring when the demand for ice was low, my job was to go to the Ice House to shut down the ammonia compressor to prevent freezing of the brine solution.

I saw my uncle fire a guy for sitting down in the doorway on the top level of the brine tanks. He told him that he was afraid that he would get pneumonia from sitting in the cold draft. Actually my Uncle Alvis always said that if you were sitting down, then they didn’t need you.

Things I remember most about my work at the Ice House was:

1. How difficult it was to get a day off. ---- My uncle almost fired me when I Took a day off to go apply for another job.

2. Falling into the slack tank head first requiring considerable effort to get out without drowning.

3. The smell of mule droppings on Saturday afternoon and evening as Farmers came into town to buy ice. One 300# block was $1.00.

4. Pay was only .58 an hour.

5. A pill was added to each can of water to help prevent ice from cracking when it was removed from the tank. We called these Anti-cracking pills.

6. I would go with my Uncle Tom to deliver ice and he would jump out of the truck while it was still rolling (about 2-3 MPH) then get behind
It to get the ice out of the back.

7. I delivered ice to all the five & dime stores and to all the hospitals in town, N.L. Asher Shoe Store, Lake’s Dentistry (upstairs at the corner of S. 4th St. and Houston Ave), Shivers Hardware Store in the 600 block of Houston Ave, and the Home Café at N. 4th & Houston Ave.

When I turned 21 years old, I realized that there was a road out of town and I took it. I went to work for Monsanto, a chemical manufacturing complex in Texas City, TX where I worked for 34 years. There I helped start up a hydrogen cyanide manufacturing plant in 1952 and for the last 15 years, I was operations supervisor in the complex where I had the responsibility of safe operations of storage tanks that held 600,000# of hydrogen cyanide. Today, there is no hydrogen cyanide stored at this facility to my knowledge, due to the risks involved. I retired in 1985 and moved back to my home place near Kennard.

My wife, Kay, and I own a ranch where we raise registered Limousin cattle that we sell for FFA & 4-H show animals and commercial breeding purposes. Due to my declining health, my wife handles most all of the ranching duties on our ranch in addition to working full time in the emergency medical services field.

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