Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Chilling Out on the 4th of July

 

Two and a half years ago, I shared how my father acquired a cannon for holiday noisemaking and celebration in the story “Holiday Traditions: Entering the New Year with a Bang.”

As part of the Bicentennial Year, the Bellmore Johnson Tool Company re-released the Winchester Model 98 signal cannon, a 10-gauge blank-firing miniature cannon. They were all-metal, painted black, and fired by pulling a 10-foot lanyard. […] Firing produced a roar, a flash of flame, and cloud of smoke, and the cannon recoiled several feet.

The timing of the acquisition was critical. It was needed to celebrate the bicentennial of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. We also got a Betsy Ross flag to fly out front of our quarters on the Army post where we lived, which was pretty cool. But what was really cool, besides the homemade ice tea with fresh mint, was ice cream at the picnic held in the yard between quarters (houses).

As I vaguely recall, friends and neighbors, with lots of kids, gathered. Of course, there would be burgers and hotdogs. Naturally, there would be potato salad and other sides, probably including corn on the cob. It being the mid-1970s, there had to be jello from a mold, hopefully with fruit rather than shredded carrots! For dessert, there would have to be ice cream.

Ah, but what kind of ice cream? It being the mid-1970s, distribution of quality ice cream, even venerable names like Breyers, would be somewhat limited. Most of what you would find in the store would have lists of ingredients that bore no resemblance to anything you would find in, say, a cookbook.

So, make your own! I do not recall the kids being assigned hand-crank duties. Instead, there is a memory of an electric motor becoming more labored until it finally stalled out. It was that sound for which the kids, of all ages, were listening.

Making ice cream is simple. Pour the right real ingredients into the churning sleeve. No imitation vanilla extract! No artificial coloring! Then set the metal sleeve inside the ice cream maker. Insert the paddle and attach the motor, braced on the top rim of the ice cream maker. Pour in layers of ice and rock salt around the sleeve so the ice cream mixture rapidly chills to freezing. Start up the motor and wait.

As the mixture cools and thickens, the churning paddle slows. The sound of the motor changes, creating anticipation in the crowd. Then it finally stalls out, cuts off. Pull out the sleeve and serve up the freshly made ice cream!

It was not as firm as store-bought or soda-fountain ice cream, because it was not chilled as far. At the same time, it was no “soft serve,” that is it was not blown full of air and artificial ingredients. It was just the right consistency for instant gratification, especially dolloped over a piece of pie.

Or so I recall through the gauzy veil of time. What are your favorite memories of “chilling out” on the Fourth of July?

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There are 11 comments.

  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Share your memories or tell us how to “Chill Out!” in July. Do click the link and sign up to share your own cool post.

    • #1
    • July 4, 2019, at 3:13 PM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Randy Webster Member

    Clifford A. Brown: I do not recall the kids being assigned hand-crank duties

    We only ever had the hand-crank kind. But then, Dad was an elisted man.

    • #2
    • July 4, 2019, at 5:19 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. B. W. Wooster Member

    We usually trekked over the mountain to a local factory – which had taken it on themselves to produce a fireworks display. That was before the small towns in the area started community fireworks. We piled onto the back of the truck and rode on twisty back roads. Then we waited for what seemed an eternity before the show got started. But once it did – it was worth the wait.

    It wasn’t The Show on the Mall – or the Brooklyn Bridge – but I hold it fondly as a memory here in the Appalachians. Happy times. 

    Now the local towns either can’t afford the insurance or cost of the fireworks. So we have none. And if I put my kids on the back of the truck, I would end up on the front page of the paper as endangering children. 

    Someone ought to Declare Independence.

    • #3
    • July 4, 2019, at 5:25 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Jim Wright Coolidge

    A few years back my aunt and my brother in law had a homemade ice cream throwdown for July 4.

    My memories of homemade hand-cranked ice cream were of milky slush with ice crystals and too much mint extract that gave a tiny buzz and big brain freeze. Like homemade root beer with dry ice, it didn’t taste “real” like the store bought but there was a pride of creation. Your hand cranking yielded something akin to ice cream. Pretty cool.

    My aunt went traditional family style. Brain freeze and all.M sister’s hubby was and is a terrific cook who, when he makes something, really goes for broke. No 2% milk for him; he broke out real cream and half and half. He used real scraped vanilla bean. He used a hand drill for custom churning speed. He took twice as long to produce his ice cream, and added time to fold in the mini morsels, but wow. the stuff was insanely creamy and good. I’d pay for that ice cream.

    But oddly, the slush still felt more like Home.

    • #4
    • July 5, 2019, at 1:52 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Jim Wright (View Comment):
    He used a hand drill for custom churning speed.

    ‘Merica!

    • #5
    • July 5, 2019, at 3:31 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    Homemade banana ice cream was definitely my favorite part of the 4th of July BBQ at my grandparent’s place in 1970s Louisiana. I do remember moving from a hand-crank to an automatic ice cream maker. As the oldest cousin, I always had to do the most cranking so it was a pretty big day for me. 

    • #6
    • July 6, 2019, at 2:51 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Chris Hutchinson (View Comment):

    Homemade banana ice cream was definitely my favorite part of the 4th of July BBQ at my grandparent’s place in 1970s Louisiana.

    Did you start with bananas, as in banana bread, or a banana flavor extract?

    • #7
    • July 6, 2019, at 3:04 AM PST
    • Like
  8. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Chris Hutchinson (View Comment):

    Homemade banana ice cream was definitely my favorite part of the 4th of July BBQ at my grandparent’s place in 1970s Louisiana.

    Did you start with bananas, as in banana bread, or a banana flavor extract?

    Hmmm… I don’t remember the exact process but I do know we used real bananas.

    • #8
    • July 6, 2019, at 3:15 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Old Buckeye Member

    We had only the hand-crank style. Mom tried recipes for peach ice cream with chunks of fresh peaches a couple of times but was disappointed in how they froze. We kids didn’t care–it was all great! Dad did the most cranking, especially at the end when it got tougher, but we always got in on the work part. I always thought that container was way too small for the amount of ice cream I wanted to consume when I had to share with so many guest cousins and aunts. 

    • #9
    • July 6, 2019, at 8:00 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. DonG Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown: As the mixture cools and thickens, the churning paddle slows. The sound of the motor changes, creating anticipation in the crowd. Then it finally stalls out, cuts off. Pull out the sleeve and serve up the freshly made ice cream!

    I remember an electric ice cream maker. I also remember the smell of heated motor windings and rock salt mixing with the scent of vanilla. The greatest smell ever…. 

    The second best ice cream came from a local dairy farm, when they first started selling hand dipped ice cream right out of the barn. So sweet and creamy and the vanilla scent was mixed with a faint pasture smell. It was as close to the cow as you can get.

    • #10
    • July 6, 2019, at 9:33 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    DonG (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: As the mixture cools and thickens, the churning paddle slows. The sound of the motor changes, creating anticipation in the crowd. Then it finally stalls out, cuts off. Pull out the sleeve and serve up the freshly made ice cream!

    I remember an electric ice cream maker. I also remember the smell of heated motor windings and rock salt mixing with the scent of vanilla. The greatest smell ever….

    The second best ice cream came from a local dairy farm, when they first started selling hand dipped ice cream right out of the barn. So sweet and creamy and the vanilla scent was mixed with a faint pasture smell. It was as close to the cow as you can get.

    Ah, but did they sell ice cream sandwiches made with from fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, labeled, perhaps “cow chips?”

    The olfactory picture you paint is amazing.

    • #11
    • July 7, 2019, at 12:51 AM PST
    • Like