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Science: Iceolite

3 minute read

To an Austrian father and a Hungarian mother, a girl baby was born 46 years ago in Bridgeport, Conn. As she learned to talk and experiment with things, little Bessie Pastor showed herself to be a bright child. In high school she diligently studied chemistry, later went to a technical school. To her girl friends she passed out soaps and lotions, the products of her own test tubes.

One day two children she knew, skating on a pond near Bridgeport, broke through the ice and drowned. The tragedy made a doubly strong impression on Bessie Pastor because she did a lot of skating herself. Then & there she resolved that she would some day create a safe kind of synthetic ice—not artificially frozen water, but some other solid compound that would offer a skater a smooth gliding surface. It might have other advantages over natural ice, but in Bessie Pastor’s mind its primary quality would be safety.

Bessie married a chemist named Michael Berliney, but in professional connections preferred to be known as “Mrs. Pastor.” The couple moved to Perth Amboy, N. J., where “Mike” had a laboratory. With skilled, indefatigable hands Mrs. Pastor kept house for her husband, spent her spare time in his workshop, composing synthetic waxes, lotions and soaps. Today she has taken out 18 patents, has sold some of them to cosmetic and soap makers. Not to be outdone, Mike has taken out 174 patents.

Bessie Pastor did not forget her synthetic ice problem. She tried great numbers of compounds and concoctions, threw thousands of dollars’ worth of material into the ashcan.

Last year the Berlineys moved to Toledo, where Mike took a job with a manufacturer but set up a small laboratory of his own. In a few months Bessie had hit on a concoction for synthetic ice which at last suited her completely. She christened it “Iceolite” but has refused to name its ingredients, except to say there are 16, of which one is a vegetable oil and one a silicate. Last month a small, 600-sq. ft. rink in Toledo’s Civic Auditorium was paved with the stuff and several crack skaters performed on it.

Said Skater Kit Klein (onetime, 1935-36, North American women’s speed skating champion) : “This is the greatest thing next to real ice.”

Said Skater Robin Lee (1937 novice figure skating champion): “Swell.”

Last week Toledo’s Buckeye Paint & Varnish Co. was going ahead with plans to manufacture and market Iceolite, at a price of $2.50 per sq. ft. A rink 100 ft. by 50 would thus cost $12,500, but would last a long time. Scratches and shavings cut by skate blades could be melted back smoothly into the rink’s surface with flat irons (see cut). The irons would also be used to meld the cracks between the blocks after they are laid down. Liquid Iceolite is poured into molds, congeals into blocks 2 by 3 ft. and 1½ in. thick. They can be laid on any level surface—wood, concrete, steel, or whatnot. Since it is impervious to moisture and hot weather, Iceolite can be skated on in any climate and at any season. Its makers offer, by adding the proper dyes, to furnish it in any color.

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