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History Watch

August 6, 2018

Marin history: Marin Ice Co., a fixture of early 20th century life

Marin Ice Co. with driver Pete Ostaggi, circa 1930. (Courtesy of Marin History Museum)

Marin Ice Co. with driver Pete Ostaggi, circa 1930. (Courtesy of Marin History Museum)

Posted: 08/06/18, 11:44 AM PDT

For more than four decades, the Marin Ice Co., along with the San Rafael Ice Co., supplied all of the North Bay with ice to cool food and beverages for private homes and commercial firms. The delivery of ice was an important and thriving business before the advent of inexpensive refrigeration units, and the almost daily arrival of the iceman was a fixture of early 20th century life.

Sic Herzog, San Rafael’s first elected mayor and founder of the first certified dairy in Marin, owned and operated the Marin Ice Co. on the present site of United Liquors at the west end of San Rafael. The company owned a fleet of trucks that made deliveries as far north as Napa County. In 1937 Herzog’s company also installed an ice “slot machine” that allowed customers to purchase and carry away 25- and 50-pound blocks of ice from the premises 24 hours a day. As personal refrigerators became more affordable, the Marin Ice Co. also went into the business of renting refrigeration units to customers for as low as $1.70 a month to remain competitive.

Longtime and well-known resident Pete Ostaggi, who had emigrated from Italy in 1920, lived with his family on Clorinda Street in San Rafael. He is listed in the 1930 census as a truck driver for an ice company providing a reasonable date for this photograph. Sig Herzog died in 1953 and a year later, with ice delivery no longer a profitable business, Marin Independent Journal ads were listing the Marin Ice Co. property for rent. Ostaggi fulfilled his American Dream by becoming a leading citizen and business owner in his adopted country and town. He was a member of the Elks and Kiwanis Clubs, served as a boxing commissioner for the county, and endeared himself to generations of Marinites by opening and operating the West End Villa restaurant at Second and G streets in San Rafael. The Villa was known for its friendly, family atmosphere, and its delicious Italian food, especially the crab cioppino that was featured every Friday night for decades.

P. O. Box 150727, San Rafael, CA 94915        415-382-1182    

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