Monday, July 04, 2016

I hope your 4th was full of ice cream

The deadline for the column this week slipped upon me like a sneeze. I capture column ideas on my iPhone’s notepad app, but this week none of them seemed to resonate. Last night after dinner as Jilda caught up on Facebook birthdays she said, “Why don’t we have a root beer float? It will keep your brain from overheating while you fret about your column.”  Between the slurps of our frothy treat, she said, “You could write about ice cream.” With the Fourth of July just around the corner, I realized it was a perfect idea.

I loved the Fourth of July as a kid. What could be more fun than firecracker battles and bottle rocket wars? It’s a wonder someone didn’t lose an eye or a finger. But the other thing I loved about the holiday was the homemade ice cream. 

We spent all holidays with my mother’s family. Easter at Aunt Edra Mae’s, Christmas Day at my Grandmother Ferguson’s, and the Fourth of July at Aunt Edith’s.

The food was a big part of the celebrating. Tables were laden with fresh corn, green beans, Cole slaw, and potato salad along with just about any meat we could imagine. 

Every year, my aunts tried to outdo each other on desserts. Pineapple upside down cake, banana pudding, coconut and red velvet cake with a few pecan pies thrown in for good measure. 

But my favorite dessert was the homemade ice cream. While the pots and pans rattled in the kitchen, the kids assembled on the front porch for ice cream duty. 

Across the edge of the porch was a squad of ice cream freezers assembled like a line of multicolored maple soldiers. Time and use had muted their finishes to the colors of a fading rainbow.

The menfolk hauled tubs of ice onto the porch and packed the freezers full of ice and sprinkled tiny nuggets of rock salt across the top. That’s when the cranking commenced.

One kid would sit on the freezer to stabilize it while the other one turned. They switched when one's arm got tired, or the other one’s rear end got cold. When the cranking started, the twirling bucket in the ice cracked and popped like car wheels on a gravel road.

As the ice cream hardened in the bucket, cranking became tiresome, and the kids switched from sitting to cranking more frequently, but that was good because we knew it wouldn’t be long before we’d be enjoying the fruits of our labor.

The table food was good on the Fourth of July, but I always saved room to sample all the different flavors of ice cream. Inevitably you’d see a kid slap himself in the eye with the palm of his hand and scream, “BRAIN FREEZE.” But a momentary excruciating headache was a small price to pay for something that good. 

Several years ago, Jilda and I bought an electric ice cream maker. It feels a little like cheating when she whips up a batch of vanilla ice cream, and all I have to do is plug it up. I guess there are a few cases when cheaters do win.

Happy Fourth of July.


  1. I'm not eating much ice cream these days but we did enjoy some BBQ today. Happy 4th to both of you.

  2. Rick 4th: Dude, using words you can move folks back in time. YEP, the process was a lot of fun, but when one of the men or ladies pulled that dasher (Sherry's family called it the 'paddle') and raked the ice cream back down before some lucky person got to lick it. Then it was SERVED! Oh yeah was it good!

    Thanks for a trip down memory lane and hope your 4th was good with the root beer float. 'member them too!

  3. A fun memory. Happy 4th.

  4. I did have an ice cream cone to celebrate the 4th. Homemade is best but mine came from the store.

  5. I love my husbands home made butter pecan icecream. And thanks you just gave me a blog post idea too.

  6. We usually do homemade icecream but didn't make any this 4th. We have an electric one also and I love it! It's fun to whip up some goodness that quick and it's always a hit with the Grandkiddos. I've never had to crank any but your story reminded me of my youth when we would help crank the lamb on the open fire at Greek events. At first it was fun but then you were quickly looking for another kid to come and relieve you! The results were the same...good eating! Hope your 4th was awesome and thanks Rick for your service to our country that helps keep our freedoms!

  7. Anonymous1:11 PM

    Did the kid sitting on the ice cream maker get butt freeze?

  8. Hope you had a great 4th of July! I love ice cream! I love root bear floats too!

  9. Sorry bear is suppose to be beer! LOL!

  10. I never made home made ice cream but it sounds so good. We made our own Popsicles which was much easier to make.hope you had a great day

  11. I have great memories in cranking that ice cream freezer.


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