Let's Reminisce: Making ice cream the old-fashioned way
By Jerry Lincecum
Sep 11, 2012
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One of my readers sent in a good story about making home-made ice cream. All the ladies chipped in to stir up the ice cream. Then the men packed the metal can in layers of ice and salt and took turns turning the crank.  Norma and her sister took turns sitting on the container (covered by an old rug), because it would walk across the front porch.

As I remember it, the flavors of ice cream varied, but everybody’s favorite was made with extra-strong vanilla extract flavoring purchased from the Watkins or McNess salesman.  He came by our farm now and then, and offered to accept fresh eggs or even a chicken in trade for his goods.

However, it wasn’t just the tasty ice cream that folks remember.  There was an atmosphere of storytelling and shared experience.  The men and women sometimes had their separate groups, with men telling their fishing tales while the ladies exchanged stories about their children.  We children could move back and forth or choose which group we listened in on.

To illustrate this gender divide, when we had a community-wide gathering to celebrate my Grandfather Jones’ 80th birthday, two group photos were made.  All the women are shown in one and all the men in another.  My brother and I, along with a cousin, appear in both photos.

In a variation on the ice cream story, one of my writers recalled that she and her husband prided themselves on still using the electric freezer they had secured with green stamps many years ago.  It still turned out great ice cream, except that one time, it took a long, long time to get the ice cream frozen.

When time to eat it arrived, the frozen dessert looked so good as it was dipped into bowls, but the first taste told the story: The ice cream was too salty to be eaten! Examination showed that the freezer can had rusted through at the seam, letting the salt water into the custard as it froze.  This had also made the freezing process very long.

The very salty ice cream had to be thrown out, but do you think this incident prompted the purchase of a new ice cream freezer? No, indeed.  These folks had grown up during the depression and still practiced "Use it up; wear it out; make it do, or do without."
A little soldering repaired the leaking seam so the old “green stamp” freezer could turn out great ice cream for several more years.  Some people still make ice cream the old-fashioned way, but I think a certain little creamery down in Brenham has cornered the market for “Home-made Vanilla.”

Jerry Lincecum is a retired English professor who now teaches classes for older adults who want to write their life stories.  He welcomes your reminiscences on any subject: jlincecum@me.com