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?Published in