NPR's Morning Edition aired a wonderful story today about a legendary cultural phenomenon in Texas: the Ice House, a multi-racial meeting ground that once thrived (and still lives) from mid- to south-Texas.
Here's the intro from the NPR website:
Texas Icehouses. Part town hall, part tavern, icehouses have been a South Texas tradition since the 1920s. Before refrigeration, icehouses stored and distributed block ice for the neighborhood iceboxes.
Over time, they diversified-- iced beer, a little food, maybe some groceries -- a cool, air-conditioned spot where neighbors and families come to sit, talk, play dominoes, turn up the juke box, maybe eat some chicken wings, dance on the slab outside. No two are alike -- Sanchez', Acapulco, Dos Hermanas, Stanley's, La Tuna, The Beer Depot, The Texan.
Once a vital part of everyday local culture -- a cornerstone of every neighborhood in San Antonio and Houston -- they are rapidly diminishing, an endangered species. The Kitchen Sisters take us on a journey into this Mexican-German-Tejano-Anglo tradition.
The piece by the award-winning Kitchen Sisters duo is fantastic, a montage of diverse voices without heavy-handed narration. You can listen to it here.
While you're at it, check out the Sisters' piece "The Club from Nowhere: Cooking for Civil Rights." It tells the story of Georgia Gilmore, a cafeteria worker in Montgomery, Alabama who in the 1950s was fired for her civil rights activism, and went on to form a "secret civil rights kitchen" of women who baked and sold pies, cookies and cakes in beauty salons and on street corners to help fund the Montgomery bus boycott.