Letter of the Day (March 2): Refrigeration

  • Updated: February 28, 2014 - 6:01 PM

Remembering the contribution of Frederick McKinley Jones.

In the middle of one of the 10 coldest winters on record, it is hard to imagine a time when food could not be transported long distances because it would spoil.

Black History Month would be remiss if it did not note Frederick McKinley Jones. Born on May 17, 1893; orphaned at age 9, and largely self-taught, Jones was working as a mechanic by age 14, served in the U.S. Army in World War I, began working on a portable air-cooling unit for truck hauling in 1935 and received a patent for this invention on July 12, 1940. Portable refrigeration saved the lives of many allied troops during World War II by preserving food, blood and medicine.

Jones was awarded 61 patents during his lifetime. On Feb. 21, 1961, he died of lung cancer in Minneapolis. He was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Technology posthumously.

I will think fondly of Jones during those oppressive dog days of summer each time I hear the sound of an ice cream truck rolling down my block. Thanks for the cold one!


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