Probably my first experience with frozen delights was a trip to the soda fountain at the drug store with my father when I was about three or four years old. We sat at the counter and I watched the stranger put a few scoops of this white stuff in a tall glass, and then pour Coca Cola over it. There was a volcano of foam and the man had to wait for it to simmer down before adding more coke. He then added a long-handled spoon and a straw and put one in front of me and one in front of my father. I would learn later that this is called a “float”. I thought it was really something special. It was cold, it was creamy, it was delicious.
As a kid growing up, one develops the disciple of being in constant awareness of what sweets are in inventory at home. I soon learned that it was important to open the freezer occasionally and if the ice cream seemed a little low, notify Mama right away. It would be a terrible thing if she baked a fresh pie and there was no ice cream to pile high on it. This was my first lesson in civic responsibility and I performed it admirably.
And then there were the weekends when we would have my aunt and uncle along with my cousins over for dinner. Mama would get out the home-made ice cream freezer and the ritual would begin. It was very important that this was addressed before the cookout even began. She would take the large stainless steel canister and fill it with unknown magical ingredients, topping it off with freshly sliced bananas. The steel and wooden paddle was then inserted along with the steel top, and the whole container was placed in a large wooden bucket. In the beginning we had to crank it by hand, adding salt and ice as we continuously cranked the handle. Later on, an electric version was invented and thank God my parents bought one. The ice cream delivered was not the same hardness or consistency of the store-bought stuff, but it was somehow better because we made it ourselves.
Later in life, but not much later, I discovered other fantastic things you could do with ice cream. You could have a banana split or a sundae or a malt or a milkshake. The possibilities seemed endless. But I was not above sneaking a carton out of the freezer and attacking it with a single spoon. Many times an empty container was spotted in the trash by my parents when they got home from work. At first I blamed the dog, but later learned to take responsibility for my own actions.
If you have ever been to an ice cream social, you might have noticed that the overall ambiance was usually very pleasant. That’s because everyone realizes that there will eventually be ice cream. Regardless of what flavor one prefers, almost everyone loves ice cream. It tells you that everything is going to be okay. I often ponder how many world conflicts could have been avoided if the two leaders of opposing nations had simply sat down and enjoyed a bowl of ice cream together. Perhaps they will some day and we can all celebrate world peace by having a sundae every Sunday!