Joseph F. Schaefer, longtime iceman

January 12, 1995|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Joseph F. Schaefer, one of the last of Baltimore's door-to-door icemen, died Dec. 14 of heart failure at his Hamilton residence. He was 82.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday at Grace Lutheran Church, 5201 Harford Road.

As an independent ice dealer, Mr. Schaefer traveled through the streets and alleys of Northwest Baltimore, serving both retail and residential customers for 37 years until retiring in 1965.

Known as "Mr. Joe," he started in the ice business working for his uncle, Joe Svoboda, who delivered ice in East Baltimore.

"He used to go to work at 4:40 a.m. and worked until 8 p.m. every day except Christmas; it was the one day that he took off," said his son, Philip F. Schaefer of Abingdon, who worked with him on the ice truck.

"He would drive his International 1 1/2 -ton truck up and down the alleys of Park Heights Avenue and all through the Pimlico section looking for the cardboard signs that customers would hang in the window which told us how much ice they wanted, whether it was a 15-cent or 25-cent piece or a 50-pound cake," said the son.

"In the 1950s, he was still servicing the old-fashioned ice boxes that some homeowners were still using and which required ice everyday," said Mr. Schaefer.

"He always had his ice pick in a leather holster on his side and no one ever messed with him. On hot summer days, kids would jump on the back of the truck and he would give them pieces of ice to help them cool off."

After retiring from the ice business, he was a production worker for Becton-Dickinson in Timonium until 1977.

Born in Baltimore and reared on Port Street, he attended city schools and was a 1930 graduate of Polytechnic Institute.

He volunteered at the Meridian Nursing Home in Hamilton, where he played Santa Claus, organized and performed in revues and played cards with the residents. He was also a member of Bykota in Towson and the Dundalk Senior Center.

He and his wife, the former Carolyn Hohman, whom he married in 1937, enjoyed dancing and were members of the At Ease Dance Club until an accident in 1988 left Mrs. Schaefer a quadriplegic.

Surviving in addition to his wife and son, are a daughter, Suzanne S. Hargest of Alexandria, Va.; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

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