Current location: McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Current temperature: -9º C Windchill: -14º C
While this blog is in place principally to provide the ins and outs of POLENET field operations, I would like to diverge for a moment and tell the story of one very eventful lunch session in the McMurdo Station galley.
But first, we must go back to 1960s Australia and New Zealand-- to the origins of one of McMurdo’s very close friends. The affection and loyalty towards this particular friend is lasting and sincere, and for many years, its return has been one of ever-flowing creaminess.
Creaminess? Yes, I am talking about Frosty Boy, McMurdo’s soft ice-cream dispenser.
Those who have traveled to McMurdo before will know the meaning of Frosty Boy. In a place that is constantly changing- the weather is never certain, people fly in and out all the time, friends switch from day-shift to night-shift, beer runs out, ice turns to water turns to ice again. Through it all, Frosty Boy is there, a constant and comforting friend.
So it was quite alarming when, in the middle of a very busy lunch (as McMurdo is quite crowded in the middle of the summer season), our poor friend let out a loud and lasting screech that silenced the galley and made even the people down the hall turn their heads in amazement. The poor girl who happened to be the last to turn the handle stood wide-eyed, unsure how to proceed. “Unplug it!” someone yelled.
Something was unplugged from the wall, and the screeching came to a faltering, miserable stop, and a hush fell through the room, as we all realized that this was something serious.
Saddened at the site of our wounded friend, we turned back to our meals, only to be startled minutes later by a burning rubber smell and smoke, followed by further screaming from the depths of Frosty Boy’s soul. A group of people rushed to pull Frosty Boy from his nook, reaching back to unplug him from his last link to life support.
If we didn’t believe it the first time, we sure believed it now. Frosty Boy was down.
There are many theories as to why this happened. The old ice cream machine from South Pole, aptly named “Frosty Girl” was recently transferred to McMurdo. Perhaps Frosty Boy felt his territory impeded upon?
Or take the most recent flavor that was pumped through his veins: Strawberry Balsamic. Maybe it was just too much.
But as we watched our friend being gutted and closed down for the repair shop, we took refuge in the final words of our Dining Assistant: “He’s come back from worse.”
While we wait for Byrd Camp to open, we continue to fly to stations close to McMurdo when weather is good. And we send our best wishes to Frosty Boy during his eminent recovery.