|Lynda & Jerry|
It isn't as if we no longer stop for a bag of ice at the convenience store. We still do. It is just less frequently that we stop to get enough to keep our cooler cold for a long afternoon at a picnic, with enough extra to keep the huge container of ice tea cold too. Air conditioning seems to have practically eliminated the wonderful picnics I remember from my youth.
I'm not sure the exact occasion pictured above, but I suspect it might have been a 4-H tour from farm to farm to see the livestock raised by 4-Hers for the County Fair, judging from the water tank and gate in the background. Church picnics, Mothers' Club picnics, family picnics, picnics between baseball games...summer was filled with excuses to get out of the sultry house and find a shady park for a picnic.
Our family often headed for the Pratt Lake, hoping to stake out a claim on a nice shady place below the dam. But, on the way into Pratt, we would stop first at Bettis Ice Company Plant on North Main.
I don't really remember much about the plant itself, because I was much more excited about getting to the picnic, but the gentleman who helped my father get the ice could have been Henry Bettis. According to the article in the 1962 special Pratt edition, 60 tons of ice were produced daily at the Bettis company. They shipped to many nearby towns and their ice was used to ice freight and passenger trains of the Rock Island Railroad.
In his interview, Mr. Bettis, owner and manager of the ice plant, said that their plant was one of the first in Kansas to push the packaged ice business fifteen years before his interview, meaning sometime about 1947.
Air conditioning is wonderful, and I would not want to give it up, but I can still recall fondly those picnics at the Pratt Lake, when you needed to get there early if you wanted a good spot below the dam. Above the dam, cars came and went, pausing to watch the water skiing on the lake, and we kids would certainly have gone up there to watch the skiers too. It was a busy place, both above and below the dam.