January is Front Ice Time, Back in the Day

Last century, returning from holiday break meant making the RSE Front Ice. The Front Ice was used for ice skating, hockey, and hot buttered rum parties with a small bonfire (the drinking age was 18 back then). The ice lasted well into February.

Everyone in the House participated in the ice making including the City of Troy (water was a lot cheaper then) and Mother Nature. We usually had a least a foot of snow to provide a good starting point. Members with skis and boots would stomp the snow to compact it. Next a garden hose brought out to water the compacted snow to create a consistency like a 7-11 Slurpee. (The snow would hold the water until it froze.)

The around-the-clock watering followed with members signed up for 1-hour shifts. Watering in a thin layer was key to preventing cracks in the ice. The thin layer would freeze quickly enough so that the entire rink could be watered around the clock. Mother Nature kept the temperatures in the 20s during the day and usually in the teens or single digits (or lower) at night.

After a few days, members would “skate-it-down” to smooth out the ice. The ice was “Zambonied” by skaters with snow shovels and the watering resumed for about half a day. The Front Ice was then open for skating from 8 AM to Midnight on school nights and around the clock on weekends. (Yes, we had floodlights!) New snowfall was shoveled to the sides and sprayed with water to form “boards” around the rink. Members would regularly “Zamboni” the ice with snow shovels and add more water. In late February, the Front Ice was gone for the season.

Warm winters have precluded any Front Ice this century. We now get a few cold days followed by days in the forties, not really good weather for outdoor ice.

Front Ice Adventures:

Some members rode their motorcycle on the ice. (No one was hurt!)

It was so cold, members swapped jackets on the ice to use a down jacket good to -20 F with no activity.

Some people thought that it was a good idea to scrape the snow off the lawn before beginning to build the ice. Obviously, assistance from Mother Nature was not to be accepted.

Troy Times Record and Cliff Lloyd ’76

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