Crawfordsville, AR Children Suffocated in Locked Ice Box, Aug 1953


Campaign Against Icebox Death Traps, as 5 Victims Are Buried
By Clark Porteous, Press-Scimitar Staff Writer

Residents of Memphis and the Mid-South today continued to open their hearts and pocketbooks to the J. A. Hallman family. Meanwhile, officials took steps in Memphis to see that death finds no more children to unused ice boxes.

More than $1000 has been given to the Hallman family, and contributions continue to come to The Press-Scimitar and to Citizens Funeral Home in West Memphis.

Services for the five Hallman children, ranging from age 2 to 8, who suffocated in an old ice box on the porch of their farm home in Crittenden County Wednesday, were held at Citizens Funeral at 10:30 a.m. today, with burial in Crittenden Memorial Park.

Between 4000 and 5000 persons, many from far away, went thru the funeral home to see the little bodies in coffins. Some contributed to the family.

With 11 children, including the five Hallmans, having died in old ice boxes throughout the nation in two days, appliance and city officials are acting to keep such a tragedy from happening in Memphis.

No one recalls a Memphis child ever having died in an ice box, though there was a narrow escape a year or so ago. During the last four years, there have been 10 in Arkansas who died in ice boxes, including the Hallmans.

George Bates, president of the Memphis Retail Appliance Association, said the appliance dealers already have been trying to get rid of unused ice boxes, and will double their efforts.

“Those things usually happen to children in areas where they don’t have other things to do,” Mr. Bates said. “We have never lost a child in Memphis in an ice box, but of course, it could happen and we don’t want it to happen.”

“We appliance dealers always give something on an old ice box when a customer purchases a new one, even though the old box is worthless. We usually give $5 or $10.”

“We are willing to go get any ice box a citizen may have at his home, whether or not he is buying a new one. We junk the old ice boxes, as a rule. We usually get about 50 cents apiece for them from junk dealers, who don’t particularly like to handle them, because there isn’t too much metal and they have to be broken up.”

“We send loads of 15 on a truck to junk dealers. Some few we sell to plantations and farms, which still use ice. But these have to be clean and in good condition.

“Anyone who has an old ice box and doesn’t want to dispose of it, thinking they might need it for a fish camp or something like that some day, should remove the outside handles so that no child can be trapped inside.”

Memphis appliance dealers report they are willing to pick up old ice boxes to have them junked.

Dealers brought out that old, unused electric or gas or oil refrigerators also could be a hazard, and should be disposed of if not in use. Shelving makes them less attractive as a play area for children.

Memphis appliance dealers will call for old iceboxes of citizens who notify them. They will be hauled to a selected spot on a city dump, and finally destroyed. A watchman will keep children away from them until they are destroyed.

Commissioner Williams said the city will co-operate, and “we are ready to assist in any way we can to end this peril.”

Memphis Press Scimitar, Memphis, Tennessee, 1953-08-15