The Old Ice House

The cottage and ice house as seen from Lake Garfield

I’ve been told that the Monterey News received quite a few comments – all positive 🙂 on The Somers Men of Monterey. I was contacted by Mike Freundlich, who sent me this picture of the cottage that his family owns on the old Somers property. Mike says:

Thank you for the story in the October Monterey News. I was the one who suggested that they do more stories about the old houses on the lake. One that came to mind was “Indian Cove”, which is on the left side entering the small lake.

There is a common road running down to the lake from the big house at the top on Rte. 23. My parents bought the house at the bottom of the hill. I think they bought it from a teacher who just got married and wanted to buy or build a motel in Conn. The Staples originally owned Lakeside Terrace (Glen Fern) as well as the boat house. The Staples sold Lakeside Terrace to the Oislanders. The Erdas bought the boat house and their daughter sold it the new owners from Australia. The boat house is now a family house with the boat part being a living room.

My father bought our property about 50-55 years ago. The “downstairs house”, as we call the cottage, has not changed in that length of time. On the property there was also an ice house on the hill above the cottage. We made the ice house into my house. It was getting too crowded in the cottage with 2 bathrooms and 4 adults and my Dad did not want kids running around the “downstairs”, so he sent us “upstairs”.

Wallace Tryon built the first version of the ice house to house myself. Wallace wrote a book about the people of Monterey, which makes interesting reading. The Tryons ran the “tea house” in the village, where we used to go for ice cream.

The ice house has since been changed and is now a 4-bedroom house with the center being the original ice house. We built around the ice house. The small cottage (“mouse house”) where my parents lived is where my sister now lives during the summer, while I and my family live “upstairs”. I found this picture of the cottage and the old ice house taken from the lake.

–Mike Freundlich

The Ice House rules!

In our day we used the ice house as a playhouse, but back when it was built (I guess in the 1920’s) it was actually used to store ice: Ice houses were buildings used to store ice throughout the year, prior to the invention of the refrigerator. During the winter, ice and snow would be taken into the ice house and packed with insulation, often straw or sawdust. It would remain frozen for many months, often until the following winter, and could be used as a source of ice during summer months. In winter months, ice was chopped from a lake surface and often dragged by sledge to the ice house, and in summer months, was delivered from local ice houses to residences in ice wagons or ice trucks, where it would be stored in an ice box, which was used much like a modern refrigerator.

Coincidentally, last summer I had the chance to meet someone else who shares memories of the cottage and ice house as a kid – Arthur Lawrence Somers, my second cousin. I had the pleasure of meeting Larry when he stopped by for a visit while on a trip north from Texas in August. It turns out that Larry and I both lived in the cottage, at different times of course, and our paths never crossed, but we both actually attended first grade for a time in the one-room schoolhouse in the Village of Monterey!

On the lawn by Lake Garfield

Larry said that he had met Valerie back then, and remembered her whizzing by in a red speedboat with some older kids, leaving Larry far behind! Larry and his brother Doug (Douglas Goffe Somers) were the sons of Arthur Lawrence Somers, who was the son of Great-Grandpa Arthur Sylvester Somers, and the brother of Grandpa Andrew Lawrence Somers. That made Larry and Doug first cousins of Aunt Valerie, as well as my father, Arthur Sylvester Somers II.

Doug and Larry Somers

Larry and I have discussed our childhood memories of Monterey, and how lucky we were to have had that magical experience. I sent Mike this picture of the cottage that I received from Larry, which was taken in 1937. The cottage still looks the same today, according to Mike:

Mouse Manor 1937

And here are some pictures of my birthday celebrations that I needed to show Mike in order to prove that I was a Somers by blood and not by marriage (unless I was a child bride…)

Below is my sixth birthday party, held on the lawn outside the cottage. You can see the boathouse in the background. That boathouse has been renovated into a home as well.

Pam, Cousin Steffi, Sister Cindy, Brother Artie

And this is a picture of an earlier birthday party which was taken on the big lawn by the beach on Lake Garfield. Lucky me — I was the one who got to celebrate my birthdays in Monterey since I was born in August 🙂

(back) Andy Somers, Pam Somers, (front) Cindy Somers, Steffi Ross

Like how we’re all smiling at the camera? That charming redhead is my Cousin Steffi!