Oakdale Ice and Fuel Company Float

Turn back time with this photograph of a Mardi Gras float that served as an advertisement for a local ice and fuel business.

Black and white photograph of men in costumes on an advertisement Mardi Gras float
Photo courtesy Erik Overbey Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama

At the turn of the twentieth century, it was common for floats advertising local businesses to follow behind Mardi Gras parades in Mobile. The undated photo below shows one such float, which advertised the Oakdale Ice and Fuel Company. The company first appeared in the Mobile city directories in 1926 and the float, pictured in front of the business located at 900 South Broad Street, was decorated with ice blocks and plastered with signage that underscored the reliability of ice over that of the refrigerator, which was becoming popular in households during the late 1920s. The float was accompanied by music provided by Nelstone’s Hawaiians, a duo started in southern Alabama by steel guitarist Hubert Nelson and guitarist James D. Touchstone.

Did you know?

“During the annual Mardi Gras parades of mystic societies in the city, no vehicle or advertising or display float not belonging to the mystic society then parading shall follow the parade of such society on the streets at a closer distance than three (3) blocks from the rear of such parade.”

– The rules regarding advertising during a Mardi Gras parade as listed in the Mobile Code of Ordinances. This rule has been in place since at least March 31, 2012.

By the Numbers

1929: The year Nelstone’s Hawaiians made the first original recording of “Just Because.” The song went on to be covered by multiple artists, including Elvis Presley in 1954.

15: The total number of listings for ice dealers in the Alabama phone directory for Mobile, Bay Minette, Citronelle and Fairhope in June 1929.

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755: The number on Monroe Street where another Mobile ice company, Crystal Ice Factory, was located. It is now home to the Ice Box Bar.

Do you know any further details about this photo? Let us know! Email [email protected].

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