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Ice Cream Every Day: 1920

Washington, D.C., 1920. "J.C.L. Ritter. Carry Ice Cream truck." A brand-new Walker Electric. View full size. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative.

Washington, D.C., 1920. "J.C.L. Ritter. Carry Ice Cream truck." A brand-new Walker Electric. View full size. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative.


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I Scream, You Scream

I'm doing research for a novel for kids that takes place in Atlantic City in the 1930's. I need ice cream flavors of the 1930's. Any suggestions? Thanks! Love the pick of the Ritter Truck!

[Search eBay for ice cream ads. - Dave]

Experts . . .

A minute and a half looking at an old pic (not seeing the caption) and everybody "knows" exactly what it is, how it worked (and when) and how everything was back in the day. Caption? . . . we doan need no stankin' caption.

Las Vegas

No hurry

Thundering along at 9 mph when loaded, I would think I would choose a faster mode of transport for ice cream, even with the dry ice as refrigeration. I doubt that they went very far. Anyone for ice cream soup?

[Dry ice and the insulated refrigerator body would keep your ice cream cold all day. The same method still used by a lot of Good Humor vendors. - Dave]


My grandmother (born in 1912) told me many stories about her engineering father, John Stubbe, who developed some electric cars. He later worked for the Locomobile company, which made electric buses for hotels and tourists. Not only were diesel and gas more efficient, but electric cars (not the trucks) were seen as something fit to drive by ladies, because they were safe and very slow and didn't go too far. That must not have sat too well with his wife, who was one of the first women drivers in Pittsburgh. Her touring car ran on gas. John Stubbe ended up leaving the electric car industry and worked on selling and maintaining gasoline vehicles on Baum Blvd in Pittsburgh.

[The main appeal electric cars had for women was no transmission, hence no gearshifting. And no cranking. All of which required an unladylike amount of exertion. NYT article on Jay Leno's Baker Electric. - Dave]

Batteries Not Included

1918 Walker Electric Truck 3.5 ton chassis, Model P:

Weight: 5,600 lbs
Top Speed: 12 mph empty, 9 mph loaded
Range: 40 - 50 miles per charge
Price: $3,600 (batteries not included)
Batteries: 44 cells
Type: forward-control, open-enclosed cab 4x2
Serial No.: 1686
Wheelbase: 131 inches
Engine: Westinghouse electric motor mounted in rear axle
Transmission: none
Rear Axle: Walker hollow axle with integral electric motor, spur type gear reduction, 15:59 ratio
Front Axle: I-beam
Springs: semi-elliptic leaf, front and rear
Brakes: mechanical, external contracting on rear wheels
Steering: left side wheel, Ross steering gear
Wheels: Walker cast steel solid disc
Tires: 36" x 5" front and dual rear

Walker Electric Vehicle Co. built electric and gasoline-electric hybrid trucks from 1918 or earlier until at least 1942 in Chicago. The same marque may have been manufactured by the Automobile Maintenance Co. prior to this. A 1918 Model P 3.5-ton open cab version (serial number 1686) is on display at the Hays Antique Truck Museum at Woodland CA. The Walker 1 ton balance drive electric truck was used for local delivery service. The van is driven by an electric motor developing 3 1/2 h.p. with a range of around 50-60 miles on a single charge and could reach speeds of 12 mph. The only known working example, owned by Harrods Limited of Knightsbridge, London, still takes part in the annual historical commercial vehicle London-to-Brighton run.

Future Truck

This was a pretty forward thinking company, putting the telephone number on their trucks. Pity the same technology for making electric delivery trucks is not available today. If Ford, GM or Chrysler could manage that same task, they would rolling in so much money... Just a US mail delivery vehicle contract alone would make one of those companies a mint.

[The big electric delivery trucks disappeared from the scene because gasoline and diesel trucks gave better value. Which is still the case today. - Dave]


My first impression was "wow, that's a contraption". The more I look at it, the more I am impressed with the workmanship and engineering evident in this vehicle. State of the art for that time.


Refrigerated Trucks

According to Wikipedia "It was not until the middle of the 20th century that refrigeration units were designed for installation on tractor-trailer rigs (trucks or lorries)." So I doubt this truck was refrigerated, maybe the box simply protected the fuel tank.

[There is no fuel tank. It's an electric truck. Doesn't anyone read the captions? And it would be refrigerated with dry ice. - Dave]

Heavy Duty

Check out how many leaves are in each axle spring, and the amount of compression at the bottom of each solid tire. I wouldn't expect such a small truck to be so heavy, but then this truck probably had quite a load of ice to keep things frozen. Hmm, and this is an electric truck maybe, judging by what might be huge battery boxes between the axles?

Anonymous #2: I'd love a cup of hot prime rib to wash it all down.

Albert Carry

Albert Carry, the owner of Carry's Ice Cream, was a notable Washington entrepreneur. According to his obituary ( Washington Post, Feb 16 1925)

He was born in Haechinzen, Germany, in 1852 and came to the United States in 1862. For 24 year he lived in New York city and in Cincinnati. Since 1886 he had identified himself with Washington. He purchased the old Jueneman brewery and in 1889 sold the plant and organized the National Capitol Brewery Company, which he turned into the Carry Ice Cream Company. The past few years he has been active in banking and realty business in which he associated with him his two sons, Charles A. Carrey and Joseph G. Carrey

He apparently switched from the brewery to ice cream business as a result of prohibition. His ice cream company was located at 1337 D street southeast. He lived a few blocks away at 135 Twelfth street southeast. In the 1960s the site of the brewery/ice cream plant was sold to Safeway and has been a grocery store since then.

Much more about Albert Carry and family can be found at the
Capitol Hill History Project.

"Eat a plate of ice cream every day"

And don't forget a glass of cake on the side.

Walker Electric

Interesting truck here; it looks like it has holes to mount headlights but no headlights are mounted; solid disk wheels that imitate wooden spokes; padded backrest but no seat cushion. Very cool (no pun intended) shot of an early delivery vehicle.

[Seems to have just been painted. - Dave]

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