Metuchen Edison History Features
In Old Metuchen
David Trumbull Marshall
Published by The Case Publishing Co., Flushing NY 1930
(Second Edition)- (c) 1930
The Grimstead Brothers.
The Grimsteads lived in an old Colonial house on the road from Bonhamtown to New Brunswick, some distance west of the Mill Pond.
As long ago as I can remember anything I remember James Grimstead passing our house near the crossing of the Pennsylvania Railroad and Amboy Avenue on his way to the station every morning, where he took the train for New York City.
He had to walk the three miles from his home in Bonhamtown through the woods to the Gravel Railroad and so on up to the station of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Main Street, Metuchen. Some walk to take in the winter with snow on the ground.
It was always dark when he got to Metuchen at night and then there was the long walk to Bonhamtown.
Mr. Grimstead told me that after he got to the beaten path in the woods the only way he could tell where he was going was by the feel of the path under his feet.
Boys brought up to buck the game as the Grimstead boys did are not much like the soft mollycoddles one sees nowadays who will not go to High School at all if the buses don't happen to be running the two miles between Hollis and Jamaica.
For many years the Grimstead Brothers and their cousin Henry were in the ice business.
Ice was cut from the mill pond in Bonhamtown and stored in an ice house near the pond.
All summer long, as long ago as I can remember, the Grimstead ice wagons went through Metuchen while Henry and Frank delivered ice.
In the summer it meant long hours and hard work.
We did not take ice every day when I was a child.
We lived in an old-fashioned farm house with a large, cool cellar.
In this cellar there was no furnace.
Milk was put in pans on a swinging shelf in the cellar so as to be safe from rats.
When the cream rose my mother used to skim it with a tin skimmer.
When the cream was small in quantity we used to make it into butter by stirring it in a stone crock with a wooden spatula.
When we had a larger quantity we used to churn the cream in a wooden churn made narrow at the top and wider at the bottom.
Through a hole in the cover of this churn there went a handle, or dasher, made of a broom-stick on the bottom of which there were two narrow wooden slats fastened cross-wise.
It was often my job to do the churning.
Sometimes the butter would "come" quickly, while at other times it seemed as though it would never come.
My mother never kept the cream until it got sour. It was always churned while sweet and certainly smelled good and tasted good.
On the Fourth of July we always made ice cream.
My mother used to boil milk and eggs and sugar to make a custard and when that was cold and partly frozen in the freezer, she had about a quart of rich, thick sweet cream put in.
The cream freezing was done in a six-quart freezer.
That made none too much for a family of nine.
The custard was put in the freezer.
About fifty pounds of ice were smashed in a deep tub by means of a fence post.
The ice was put in the tub of the freezer and salt added.
Then commenced the long, hard job of turning the handle of the freezer.
Ice cream has to be stirred constantly while freezing for if this is not done the cream is full of little spicules of ice and is not smooth on the tongue.
Much of the commercial ice cream is beaten to a froth in power freezers and occupies much space with little substance.
The boy whose job it was to turn the freezer got his reward when the cream was put in the half frozen cream, for if the amount of cream was excessive some of the ice cream had to be taken out and of course eaten by the boy.
Later, when the cream became too stiff to be stirred any longer the mixer had to be taken from inside the can, else it would freeze fast and have to be left in.
When the mixer was removed from the can the boy got another feed.
Once when we had a "fair and festival" at the Presbyterian Church my brother Will volunteered to freeze fifty quarts of ice cream.
At the fair in the evening my brother John ran a race with Charley Randolph to see who could eat the most cream.
The boys got up to thirteen plates each and then quit, but whether they could eat no more, or had no more money, or the cream gave out, I do not remember.
Once when we had frozen ice cream we had a water pail full of brine left over.
My brother Will let our cow drink the whole pail full of brine.
The cow died the next day.
Seems to me I am getting away from the Grimstead Brothers, but ice always reminds me of ice cream and the Fourth of July.
Years afterward when there were any goings-on at the Presbyterian Church and there was any real hard work to be done, it was always "Jimmie" or Frank Grimstead who was called upon to do it.
If you want anything done go to a busy man and one who is used to hard work.
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Lasted updated 6/8/99 by Jim Halpin.