Gary Moore



One item that was sold by the dairy was not a dairy product at all.  It was Dry Ice.  Dry Ice is not really ice as we think of it.  It is frozen carbon dioxide and is extremely cold with a temperature of 109.3 degrees below zero. Unlike regular ice, dry ice is a solid white color and as it melts it leaves as a white vapor and does not drip as regular ice does.  Due to its extreme cold, it must be handled with gloves to protect the hands.  The dairy bought the dry ice in Des Moines and kept it in the ice cream hardening room. This room was well below zero but even then it was much warmer than the dry ice.  The dry ice would loose 5-10% of its mass every 24 hours.  The dairy sold it by the pound.  It was handled with gloved hands and cut from a large piece with a band saw into slices as the customer wanted.  Each slice was usually ½ to 1 inch thick.

As the band saw blade went through the dry ice, the blade became very cold. This caused the sound pitch of the saw to rise dramatically as the blade contracted as it cooled.

If the customer wanted to take the dry ice with them, it was wrapped in newspaper. Meat and medical specimens were often mailed in boxes that were kept frozen with the dry ice.

In the summer, dry ice was often used to keep ice cream frozen for picnics.  For picnics, the most common ice cream was sold in paper cup containers called Dixie Cups.  Each Dixie Cup had a paper lid on it with a small tab to pull for easy removal.  Usually, a flat wooden spoon was supplied for each Dixie Cup.  For picnic use, the Dixie Cups and some dry ice were put into a large insulated bag of dark green quilted cloth.  The bag was very heavily insulated and the dry ice kept the ice cream frozen for several hours.

The most popular park in Ames was Brookside Park.  There was even a small zoo there. When the dry ice was no longer needed to keep the ice cream frozen, there was another use for it.  Everyone would take the pieces of dry ice down to the suspension bridge and toss them into Squaw Creek.  In the water, the dry ice released bubbles of carbon dioxide gas and appeared to make the water boil and release white vapor above the surface. This amused everyone for several minutes until the dry ice was gone. The insulated bag was then returned to the dairy.


In the late 40’s, when I was 7 or 8 years old, I would ride my bike down to the field house. This building was located east of the D. O. T. and south of Lincoln way. Hastings and Hy Vee are located there now. The whole area was rather low and wet and had weeds and tall grass everywhere.  It had one other feature, garter snakes galore.

One day I took a heavy paper sack with me and went down to get some snakes. It didn’t take very long to catch 15 or 20 snakes and put them in the sack. I took them home and thought I would surprise everyone with my big catch. Well, surprised is probably an understatement when it came to mom and my sister. Very shortly after the snakes and I were told to get out of the house, my dad appeared on the scene.  He explained that not everyone appreciated a sack full of snakes in the house.  This was a fact that I had obviously overlooked.

After a short family meeting, we decided on the proper method of releasing the snakes.  Dad would drive the car into the country while I held the sack out the car window as far as I could. My sister would sit in the back seat and make sure that I kept my arm out straight.  Some where in the country the snakes were released and I never brought snakes home again.


Back in mid 1970’s we were being warned of an oil shortage. Everyone was being told of severe increases in gasoline prices and shortages of home heating gas. Ceiling fans were being installed in most homes and wood burning stoves were making a come back. To keep up with the times, I bought 4 ceiling fans and begin to research books and articles on wood burning stoves. Soon, I owned several books and learned more about wood burning than I ever wanted to know. We had a large family room with French doors to the dining room and another door into the kitchen. This seemed to be an ideal place for a free standing stove. By February of 1980, I had ordered a Defiant stove from Vermont Castings in Randolph Vermont. This was a highly recommended air tight cast iron stove and looked very pretty.

Installing a wood burner requires a lot of work and money. I learned about the safety codes required, how to buy a stainless steel chimney, how to lay bricks and ceramic tile. Soon the brickwork was complete and I was ready for the stove to arrive. When it did show up, by truck, the box was left sitting in the street. The driver told me "that’s as far as I go".

Being all cast iron it weighed more than two people could lift. We opened the box and carried each piece to the house. After a day or two, I cut a hole in the roof for the chimney and installed the shiny 8 inch chimney. Getting the hole in the proper location takes some thought. You don’t want an extra hole in the roof. After getting the stove ready to fire up, I called the city inspector to check it out. He found no problems and passed it. Next I had my insurance company look at it. He found no problem and said it was OK to run.


Vermont Castings ~  Defiant Stove ~ 1980

Now we were ready for several small fires to season the cast iron and check everything out. Everything worked just great. The heat just poured out and I begin to understand what a powerhouse this stove could really be. I had never intended to heat our large, 5 bedroom house by wood alone. However as time went on, the gas furnace was operated less and the wood burner took on the task of keeping us warm.  I bought a chain saw and we cut wood wherever we could. Within a few years, we unhooked the gas furnace and the wood burner became our sole heat source. The house is warmer than we ever kept it when burning gas. For 28 years we have had the luxury of the abundant heat provided by our wood burning stove. It can handle Iowa’s coldest winters.

It would be hard to put a dollar figure on the amount of money we have saved over the years. It has to be several thousand dollars.

I spent about $1350.00 for the stove, chimney, bricks and etc. Many years I spent nothing for wood. Now that I cannot do all the cutting and hauling myself, I do have to buy some wood each year. Usually we spend less than $350 for wood for the entire winter. While it is more work than gas, I would not want to back to gas heat. The radiated heat from a free standing wood burner, feels much warmer than the convection heat from a basement furnace.

It is also nice to be able to heat the house if we have an ice storm or other prolonged power outage. Now, if I could get a car that runs on wood.


Back in the mid to late 50’s I knew Charlie to some degree. Our paths crossed once in a while just from being Ames residents. Charlie owned an oil company called Sorenson Oil Co. and some Phillips 66 gas stations. The flagship of his company was a gas station located on the north side of Lincoln Way, across from DOT. There were no interstate highways yet, and highway 69 (Grand Ave.) was the route that led north to Minnesota and beyond. Scores of hunters and fishermen went right by this station every day and stocked up on supplies for the trip north.

The large inside of the station resembled a sporting goods store. Everything that a sportsman thought he needed was sold here. Guns, rods, ammo and lures were in abundance. A stuffed black bear was on display along with other fish and animals hanging on the wall. This was the first time that I had ever seen giant musky lures and heavy musky rods. Shotgun shells were displayed on a slanting counter inside glass partitions. These were individual shells and sold by the piece, not by the box. The customer could buy a few #6 shot shells and a few #4 shells and maybe a couple of buckshot rounds. There were always some stories being told and everyone left with a sack of merchandise, a tank of gas and great anticipation as they headed north. Charlie also built a small motel (66 Motor Inn) on the east side of the station.

In the late 50’s, Charlie built a new house next to a golf course. His backyard joined the Ames Golf and Country Club golf course which was located west off of Beach Ave. in those years. He would just hop on his golf cart and cross the back yard and go golfing. There wasn't even a fence between them.  This, of course, allowed an occasional golf ball to land in the yard. You had to learn to ignore a divot now and then. Hitting balls from inside the rose bed was forbidden.

I had a bit of reputation of being a horticulturist and Charlie ask me to plant the trees, shrubs and yard for him. He always wanted the biggest and best plants so they would look like they had been there for many years. Money was never an issue.  For a couple of years I planted an increasing number of trees and shrubs in his yard. He owned a gas station on South Duff that had two beautiful evergreens growing there. In the middle of the summer, he decided that he wanted them moved to his backyard. This was not a good time of the year to move the trees but he insisted.
I dug two huge holes in his backyard to receive the evergreens. Then I went to the station and dug the trees up with two huge dirt balls containing the tree roots. I had Earl Holdrege bring his wrecker and pick up each tree and place them in the prepared holes. The rest of the year we watered the trees almost everyday. To my surprise, they did survive and looked like they had been there for several years.

I used many bags of Scott fertilizer and other Scott yard products on the yard. The lavish use of the Scott products combined with frequent watering produced a lawn that was a rich green color and free of weeds. I took several pictures of the manicured yard and sent them to the Scott Company. Soon, they featured Charlie’s yard in their nation wide Scott Lawn Care booklet. Charlie was very proud of the recognition that he received from the Scott Company. He obtained several extra copies of those booklets and gave them out to friends.



Ames Power Plant Control Room

The #8 boiler at the Ames power plant stands nine stories tall.  Inside this boiler, powdered coal is blown in through four burners, one in each corner. The coal has been ground to a fineness of flour and burns instantly when it reaches the inside of the massive boiler. The burning coal converges in the center of the boiler and produces a fire ball reaching a temperature of 2,000 degrees.

The inside walls of the boiler are made of heavy steel pipes about 2 ½ inches in diameter. Water, under very high pressure, flows through these pipes and turns to steam. This steam drives the steam turbine and produces electricity. Heavy electric use for air conditioning in the summer provides a real challenge to produce enough electricity for everyone. All of the equipment is running at full load and the equipment stress is high in the summer heat.

On this particular day in June of 1995, it was hot and the electric demand was high.  I was operating the #8 boiler and it was fully loaded.  It was suggested that we could increase the boiler pressure and that would allow the turbine to produce a little more electricity. While it is true that a pressure increase would allow for a slight increase of electric production, I felt that the unit was already running at its maximum limits. I did not raise the pressure.


Pipe repair inside the boiler


A special machine cuts a tapered edge on each pipe to insure deep weld penetration.


The new pipe sections are now held in position ready for the finish welding.

Shortly after the shift change, I went home to enjoy my own air conditioner.  All of a sudden the lights dimmed and I heard unusual sounds in the direction of the power plant. Six of the water wall tubes had split open. This tube failure filled the boiler with huge amounts of steam, put the fire out and made a positive pressure inside the boiler. This steam was then forced out of the boiler and filled the power plant building its self.


All six tubes had ruptured within a couple of seconds of each other.  It is very unusual to have adjacent or multiple tubes fail.  Tube failure is not too common, and it is usually a single tube and does not make this massive release of steam.


This was the only time that I have seen this happen to so many tubes. This very large release of steam into the boiler caused much more damage than a single tube failure would have caused.


I retired in 1997 as senior boiler operator after 34 years of service.

MEMORIAL DAY 2004 ~ memories revisited

Around 1960, I lived across the street from an older couple. They were Henry and Gertrude O’Neil.  Every year, a couple of days before Memorial Day, Gertrude would buy a large quantity of fresh flowers. She spent hours and hours arranging the flowers into two large vases. When they had been placed perfectly in the vases, they would drive to the local cemetery and "visit the boys". Their only two children were killed in W.W. II.


I had not thought about the O’Neil’s for several years. However’ on this Memorial Day, I came across the graves of the two sons and the memories of the parents came back to me. I remembered how lovingly Gertrude talked about "the boys" to anyone who would listen. I remembered the care she took in arranging the flowers for them. I also remembered how her grief drove her to the very edge of insanity.

Henry was affected differently. He became a hardened man. You would see no smile on his face.

They were good people, but their loss was so great that they never fully recovered from it. I will never forget the pain that I saw on their faces.



When I was around 7 or 8 years old, the war had only been over for a couple of years. One toy that I remember that all of the boys made was toy soldiers.
These were cast into molds from hot lead and were 2-4 inches tall. There were several ways to melt the lead and all of them were pretty dangerous. The gas burner on the kitchen stove was a common method. Of course, we never thought of how badly one could get burned by the molten lead. Neither did we worry about the fumes that came off the hot lead.

I suppose we all got a few burns from this endeavor, but I don’t remember any really serious burns. After the soldiers had been cast, you needed to take a knife and trim off any excess lead. A few cut fingers were common, but I still have all ten fingers. While we handled the soldiers, I remember that our hands got sort of black from the lead oxide that adhered to our hands.


Painting was the last step in this procedure. I would guess that the paint that we used probably was lead based, but no one really cared.
I don’t know how any of us survived that kind of childhood, but several of us did. Lucky that the EPA had not been formed at that time. They would have taken mom’s lead splattered stove to a toxic waste site and buried it.


Several years ago, on Duff Ave. just south of the bowling alley, there was a skating rink called Skateland. It was owned by the same person that owned the bowling alley. Between the two buildings was a golf driving range and a miniature golf.


When I was around six years old, we had a neighbor who had returned from the Navy not long before. Harold had been doing some kind of electronic stuff while he was aboard a Navy ship. His basement was filled with all sorts of electronic gadgets. Of course, I thought that all of things were really neat and mostly new to me.
I remember that he had a small black and white television set. I would guess that the screen was about 5 inches across. The really neat part was that there was a magnifying glass in front of the screen that made it look bigger than it really was. But the truly amazing thing about this set up is that the magnifying glass was hollow and you filled it with water to make it work.

Of course he also had many war stories of his trips to exotic islands that I had never heard of. One true story that I remember well still causes me to shake my head in amazement. On cold nights, the night watch people would stand in front of the ships radar antenna to keep warm. They were actually being
slowly cooked just like a microwave oven. At the time, they did not understand this fact. I don’t know if they suffered any long term health problems or not.

I don’t think that this warming method would work well with the modern powerful units that we now have. You would probably "be toast" in seconds.


Several years ago, as I drove up our snowy street I noticed an elderly woman shoveling snow from her driveway.
The woman was Mrs. McFarland. She had lived two blocks down the street for many years. She was quite "well off" but it never showed. The car that she drove was a green 20 year old Checker. These had been made to serve as taxi cabs and she liked the extra room that it provided. I think that she owned the only Checker in town.

When I got home, I started my snow blower and headed down the street to help her out. When I got to her driveway, I just started removing the deep snow and did not say anything to her.

When I had finished, I just waived to her and went back home, I didn’t ask to be paid, I only wanted to help her out.  The next day our doorbell rang, outside on the porch was Mrs. McFarland holding a large coffee can. She told me that the can was full of homemade vegetable soup that she had made for us.

It seems strange, if she had given me money, I would have no memory of the encounter.  However, years later, I still remember the coffee can full of soup.


Gary Moore is the nephew of F.T. Moore, owner of Moore Bros. Dairy.