One of my earliest memories, is hearing the sweet, warped strains of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, or “Pop Goes the Weasel” on a summer day. No, it wasn’t from my mother’s loving voice or a favorite toy. This favorite melody came from a speaker attached to an ice cream truck! I would hear it and jump up from whatever I was doing and beg Mom for a nickel and a dime and head outside. I would run as fast as my 6 or 7 year-old legs would carry me to the multi-colored truck, waving my coins, hoping the ice cream man wouldn’t overlook me and drive away. I felt so important as I gave him actual, real money and made such grown up decisions such as whether I wanted a drumstick, missile or push-up pop.
When I was a bit older, my Dad would occasionally invite me to go to a drugstore named Thrifty. Thrifty had a wonderful ice cream counter with a glass window showcasing the ice cream in cardboard tubs. There were many interesting flavors, but my dad would always get Pistachio, and I would usually get Mint Chocolate Chip. It was such a simple pleasure, and all the kids at the counter would be staring wide-eyed at the ice cream with their fingertips on the glass, waiting to be handed their own treat. Creamy goodness and sweet memories for 5 cents a scoop.
As a teenager, I would go with friends to an ice cream parlor called Farrell’s. It was noisy, filled with families, kids and colors. This place, was “THE” place after movies and occasionally, someone would order something called The Zoo, which was a huge silver bowl of many scoops of ice cream and little plastic toys. The waiters would put the bowl on a stretcher, run around the parlor as a siren sounded and present the zoo to the lucky recipients! It was pure fun.
You may be thinking, “Oh wow, an article on ice cream?!” Yes, in part, but for me ice cream is more than just a treat made out of cream, eggs and sugar that we eat after dinner occasionally. It can turn everyday life into a celebration. It rarely is brought out during tragic times, or funerals. It is brought out to emphasize happy times and although best eaten with others, can also turn a quiet, lonely evening into something just a little better.
I remember starting out our marriage with both of us working in an ice cream parlor/restaurant called Leatherby’s, that his parents had purchased. Rick was the manager and I was a waitress, complete with a pinafore and striped blouse. The floor was a blue and white checkerboard, and even back then, it had a nostalgic atmosphere and served the best made-on-the premises ice cream. Some creations contained 32 ounces of ice cream and people loved receiving these very special, over-the-top indulgences. Later in life, I remember fresh peach milkshakes my sweet husband and I would make as young marrieds with small children. I recall my husband began making luscious homemade ice cream at our family celebrations. He would make vanilla, Rocky Road, Strawberry and an amazing recipe called Swiss Milk Chocolate, which contained malt powder and grated pieces of chocolate. Our 4th of July, Memorial Day or birthday celebrations might have the whirring sound of the ice cream maker, accompanied by children laughing, running around and hoping to lick the ice cream paddle. These were good times surrounded by good food.
Ice cream isn’t just for the young, but it is for the young at heart. We once went with our 3 children to visit an elderly couple, that we had become friends with. They had relocated to another state, and we had the opportunity to go visit them. It was in the middle of winter, snowing, and it was 10 o’clock in the morning. When we arrived at the Greenwood’s home, Mr. Greenwood ushered us into the living room, where his wife, lay on a couch, unable to sit up because of health reasons. After the greetings, he happily exclaimed, “It’s time for ice cream!” We looked surprised, and the kids looked delighted. He scooped up our bowls, and the potentially serious visit turned into a party at the Greenwoods.
Perhaps you aren’t crazy for ice cream. Maybe it’s a get together around your grandmother’s lasagna, or your husbands barbecue ribs. If you are like many of us over 55, on a restricted diet, it may be over a salad, tofu casserole (heaven forbid!) or simply sugar-free lemonade. Whatever our situation, we need to remember the simple pleasures of life. We need to keep inventing excuses to enjoy life and to enjoy each other. Our society today promotes seclusion and exclusion. With the conveniences of internet shopping, cell phones and cyber education on everything from college to replacing a spark plug, also comes the danger of isolation and loneliness. We must work extra hard to keep sociality and relationships alive. I feel a block party coming on… or a call to that neighbor who seems to be lonely. A little pralines and cream, might be just the ticket…
S.H.’s Basic Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (contains raw eggs)
1 cup sugar
2 – 3/4 cups half-and-half
1 Tbls vanilla
1 cup whipping cream
In a lg. bowl, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in half-and-half, vanilla and cream. Pour into ice cream machine canister. Freeze in ice cream maker according to directions. Makes about 3 quarts.