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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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ORAL HISTORY

David Romig and Kenny Cristina


Cristina Ice Service

Cousins David Romig and Kenny Cristina began working in the family icehouse, Cristina Ice Service, in the 1960s, as pre-teens. The fourth generation to work in the business, they started on the receiving platform during summer breaks for 25 cents an hour—plus unlimited sno-balls. One of the plant’s machines could shave ice very finely, and they would bring their own syrups to pour over it. David was a grape fan. Kenny preferred strawberry. Both of them graduated from college before joining their four uncles (one of them was Kenny’s father) as partners in the business. David studied electrical construction technology, while Kenny majored in marketing and economics.

Today the cousins have sole ownership of Cristina’s and manufacture block ice using a process that’s nearly identical to the way their great-grandfather, Joseph Cristina, did it when he built the Marrero facility in 1934. They operate without a single computer and repair their own antiquated equipment when possible. The seafood and sno-ball industries are their largest customers. Over the years, refrigeration and commercial ice machines have stolen much of Cristina’s business. The effects of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Louisiana’s fishing industry delivered another blow. David and Kenny believe that Cristina’s is the state’s last ammonia block ice processing facility and hope to make the business last at least through their generation.

Date of interview:
2011-05-11

Interviewer:
Sara Roahen

Photographer:
Sara Roahen

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