One Cool Customer

Published 11:05 pm Saturday, June 13, 2009

GREENUP, Ky. — It starts as a gleam in the eye of an 8-foot shiny metal plate. That sticky cold chunk of frozen water that brings solace to the overheated sunbather, comfort to the ragged softball player, pleasure to the backyard barbecue gourmand.

The ice cube. Ubiquitous and vital when the summer sun’s hot rays beat down.

But to many its birth is as much a mystery as the Big Bang theory or what really happened in Roswell, N.M.

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But not to Larry Jordan.

For the past 45 years, Jordan has been midwife to the birth of millions and millions of ice cubes as the owner-operator of Jordan Ice Co. on the other side of the Ohio River in Greenup.

There, up to 10,000 bags of ice a day can be filled, sealed and sent out on trucks for delivery as far as Central Kentucky and as near to home as Bartram & Son’s market.

First, jets of water are sent over 20 8-foot by 4-foot plates. In 24 minutes, that water has frozen hard adhering itself like superglue to the plates. To get things unstuck, the plates go into a defrost cycle where hot water comes from behind to knock the ice off into a crusher bar.

As it metamorphoses into the familiar cold hexahedron, a conveyor gently sends the newly made cubes into the ice room where they shoot down into a bagging tray.

It takes 300,000 gallons of water a month to produce 1.3 million bags of ice a year. The ice plant’s busiest month is July where 140,000 bags are produced. The quietest is February. Then only 30,000 to 40,000 bags come down the line.

But whether it is feast or famine in the ice business, the fate of that much-desired three-dimensional object is the same.

They must leave their cozy, cold sanctuary and go out into the hot, hot world to serve, knowing all too well that:

Ice cubes never die — they just melt away.