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Winter: A Time of Sport and Industry

In honor of the recent cold snap, I thought I would touch on just a few of the ways life changed for Doverites during the long Ohio winters of yesteryear.
The winter months were a time of work for those in the ice business, and as you can imagine, in Northeastern Ohio the ice business is perennially good. The City Ice And Fuel Company was located on the site of the present Crown Filtration Plant at the intersection of Detroit and Clague Rds. In William Robishaw’s book, “You’ve Come a Long Way Westlake” he interviewed Mr. Charlie Hublitz. Mr. Hublitz remembered working at the ice house that once stood at that spot and what it was like in the ice cutting business. The pond backed up to the Nickel Plate rail lines, and most of the ice that was cut out of the pond was loaded onto train cars and shipped out to places far and wide. The rest of it was sold to the people of the township. It was carried on wagons by teams of horses and delivered right to Dover resident’s door steps. People back then didn’t have refrigerators as we know them now, and if they wanted to keep things cold, they used an ice box with real ice in it. The ice would be stored till summer, and used during the warm months. Another place where ice was cut for use in business was on the Tanner Pond. The pond sat on the family’s property on Clague Rd. It was cut and hauled into town for use in the Boone Meat Market and General Store which was located on Center Ridge Rd. west of Dover.
But work and business were not the only things that came to Dover in the winter. R. S. Hadsell and Hazel Rutherford’s “A History and Civics of Dover Village” tells us that The City Ice And Fuel Company pond was also used for ice skating. Ice skates back then were made of wood that was strapped to the shoe with a steel runner connected underneath. Not much like the fancy figure and hockey skates of today. According to Hadsell and Rutherford, sledding was also a popular winter pastime in Dover with some people attaching small sails to the sleds and using them to ride across frozen ponds! And in her remembrances of life in Dover during the turn of the 20th century, Sue Bailey recalls winter parties as a wonderful part of the year. She and her friends would pile into a “bobsled” on Friday and Saturday nights and travel all around the area, stopping at people’s houses that they knew to warm up and for something to eat, and then move on. She says, “This is what we looked forward to everyday, in school, for the date was always Friday night, and we never failed to get there. Nearly every week, all winter long, our Friday and Saturday nights were “party” nights.” Now that is someone definitely not suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Maybe we should be taking a lesson from our forefathers. Maybe, when we are all huddled inside this winter wishing our time away waiting for spring, we should all take a lesson from the folks of old Dover who would not let a little thing like the long dark cold of a Northern Ohio winter get them down.

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