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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/701

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OUR ICE-SUPPLY AND ITS DANGERS.

other abominations, by the vigilance of our health-officers. But we smilingly swallow the dirt which the horse-car companies order thrown upon our streets to save themselves the expense of roughening the roadway in a legitimate manner; we allow the elevated railroads to rain dust and cinders down into our eyes, and drop oil and water upon our heads and shoulders; we stumble over boxes and baskets stored upon our sidewalks; we permit political tricksters to juggle with our lives, even with Asiatic cholera staring us in the face; we breathe, in some of our most popular, expensive, and fashionable theatres, air which, from lack of adequate ventilation, rivals that of crowded tenements and the steerage of stuffy steamships; and in innumerable other ways are the victims of the money-making and money-saving instincts of our fellows. But, after all, the complacency with which we swallow the frozen filth which some of the ice companies at times deliver at our doors—albeit often very clear and harmless in appearance—because it is cheaper for them to harvest it where the sewers empty than elsewhere, affords a spectacle of self-abasement as melancholy as it is disgusting. If the householder be not brave enough to encounter the scorn of the ice-dealer, or is too tender-hearted to witness the picture of injured innocence which he often presents when the details of his business are called in question, the ice which is used for drinking purposes may be put in a separate receptacle, so as not to come directly in contact with the water.

Our space does not permit us to consider the growing importance of the manufacture of artificial ice. But it seems probable that the sanitary problems which the use of natural ice for drinking purposes presents, especially in large cities, may find their solution in the increasing employment of artificial ice made from distilled or otherwise purified water.

And now, at last, as we look at the old Ice age and the new together, we find that, while in some respects alike, they differ widely in their significance and in their relationship to man. The mysteries of the old ice-crystals perished with them; the grandeur of the great glaciers passed unseen, leaving desolation. What hardy germs were caught up by the ice as the last cold period came on, and were swept from one part of the continent to another, we can only conjecture.

The new Ice era came in response to the intelligence and the growing refinement of the material needs of man. Petty as it is in its physical proportions, when set in fancy beside the old, it overtops it in significance, because it owes its very existence to the comfort and healing which we compel it to bear. Our blocks of ice can to-day be made to yield up their secrets of marvelous physical constitution, and we can read out of their inmost recesses the dainty records of the elemental warfare which silently went on, as now heat and now cold was victor in the water where it slowly formed. We can nurse back to life the delicate organisms which were sporting in the water