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National Ice Cream Day – Today

I grew up in a family that loved ice cream. There was always ice cream in our freezer and at our grandparents. Sometimes it was even homemade.

A favorite way to celebrate a weekend during the summer was my dad making ice cream. Mother made the custard, and then we did the rest. They invited neighbors and friends to enjoy the ice cream with us. Any leftovers went into the freezer.

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After the custard was poured into the metal container, Daddy carefully layered ice and salt around it. And then the work started! My brother Critt, Daddy, and I took turns turning the crank until it wouldn’t turn any more. Of course, it was ready for eating right then, but there was always a wait period to let it set. We didn’t care if it was a little runny, but management had different ideas.

In Shelbyville, Kentucky, where my grandmother Lulu lived, there was a family-owned ice cream parlor. At Mirror Lake Farm, there was never any grocery-bought ice cream, only from the small parlor. My dad’s favorite was banana, mine chocolate, Critt’s strawberry, and Mother’s butter pecan. What was at Lulu’s house was never enough. During our vacation visits, there was always at least one stop to get cones filled with our favorite flavors.

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Granddaddy, my mother’s father, ate a large bowl of ice cream every night before he went to bed. He was not picky as to the flavor and would even mix flavors sometimes. This 5′ 10″ man had a phenomenal appetite, but stayed skinny his whole life. Even if ice cream was served for dessert at supper, he still was ready for his bedtime snack.

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Biltmore ice cream was a favorite to all of us. Often Sunday afternoon sojourns were made to the Biltmore Dairy Bar in Asheville. Absolutely decadent treats, like banana splits and ice cream sundaes, were enjoyed. And it is no wonder that all was delicious: the ice cream was 15-18% butterfat! There was always a line to even get in that building. Daddy, whose aversion to lines since his time in the Army, never seemed to fuss about this line.

 

Biltmore Farms was organized in 1897, and delivery trucks took milk, cream, butter,and ice cream to their Asheville neighbors. Comparing the two photos below shows how these trucks evolved. Thank you, George Vanderbilt, for bringing those Jersey cows to North Carolina!

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I continue to be startled by my ignorance. It was only in watching the news this morning that I found out it was National Ice Cream Day! Who knew?

Obviously, President Ronald Reagan was a fan of ice cream, too. I found this Presidential Proclamation issued by him in 1984. The celebrations were originated by Joint resolution 298, which was aptly sponsored by Senator Walter Dee Huddleston of Kentucky on May 17, 1984. The President wanted to promote our dairy farmers (my grandmother Lulu was one), and of course, ice cream is certainly the best product made out of milk.

National Ice Cream Month and National Ice Cream Day, 1984

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food. Over eight hundred and eighty-seven million gallons of ice cream were consumed in the United States in 1983.

The ice cream industry generates approximately $3.5 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. Indeed, nearly ten percent of all the milk produced by the United States dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, thereby contributing substantially to the economic well-being of the Nation’s dairy industry.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 298, has designated July 1984 as “National Ice Cream Month,” and July 15, 1984, as “National Ice Cream Day,” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of these events.

NOW, THEREFORE, 1, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 1984 as National Ice Cream Month and July 15, 1984, as National Ice Cream Day, and I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.

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Fact checkers say that over 90% Americans eat ice cream, and our country eats more ice cream than any other country in the world. If you read the above proclamation, you will notice the words that we should “observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

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So here it is the third Sunday in July, 2018, and it is National Ice Cream Day. Google is helping us with places to go for free ice cream, frozen treats, and deals. Since Brusters is our favorite ice cream place here in Spartanburg, I do believe we will find ourselves in line there this afternoon to help observe this day.

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“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate,” said Thornton Wilder.

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Or you could wait for another treat to enjoy tomorrow on Fresh Spinach Day!

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Family Circle

 

I grew up in a family that ate our meals together at the kitchen table or the dining room table. We had assigned seats at each place that I never figured out. The kitchen table was round, and the dining room table was a rectangle. Mother fixed and served our childhood plates.

One of my earliest memories of a catastrophic supper was at our small duplex on East Main Street in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

As an opinionated preschooler, I had decided that I didn’t like the taste or texture of raisins. My two-year-old brother Critt was given the last of the corn flakes; he sat in his high chair munching away. The next thing I knew was that a bowl of Raisin Bran was in front of me. I questioned this decision and made quite a protest. Then I had the audacity to demand a switch with my brother. Neither of my parents listed to me, so I made a decision to take the situation into my own hands. Without thinking about possible end results, I stood up, grabbed the high chair’s tray, and pulled.

The results were not what I expected.

With a noisy crash, the high chair fell forward. Then with an earsplitting scream, my brother announced that his forehead hit the table. Bedlam reigned, as my parents jumped into protective mode. Blood, a high-speed rush to the ER, and stitches were the end result.

No, I never learned to either like or eat raisins, but my selfish, childish actions have caused me embarrassment. A smidgen of this escapade still rattles around the corners of my memories.

My dad was a stickler for manners on all occasions, even at the table. “Please” and ‘Thank you” were phrases that were expected.  If we wanted the ketchup bottle, we had to use the required “please.” If “thank you” was not our next response, the ketchup would be taken away. We learned in a hurry to not forget the phrases.

I clearly remember a few weeks at the supper table that provided distinctive entertainment.

My brother was around three, and I was six. Picking up his milk glass for a drink became a challenge for some reason. He took several sips and then spilled the rest of the glass on the table, the floor, and himself. (Interesting that this accident never happened at any other meal.) Through surreptitious glances in his direction, I remember watching to see when the trouble was going to happen, and then suddenly he just stopped spilling the glass of milk..

Critt was always a jokester and a tease. He particularly relished my gullibility, as he shared tall tales with me. To this day, I don’t know whether the spills were purposeful and he finally grew tired of the game or what. I was sorry the anticipated spills stopped, but am sure my parents were thankful.

Our family meals were not always around a table. Franklin Curtus Justus, known as F.C.,  my grandmother’s brother, enjoyed camping in Pisgah Forest. He and his wife Ina lived in Hendersonville, North Carolina, so the commute was an easy one. They often invited other family members to join them for breakfast on Saturdays.

My dad was convinced that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, so he was eager to accept these invitations to a cooked meal on a creek bank. I can see his smile of anticipation, as we walked toward their camp site.

There is a lush area of cove forests and streams known as the Pink Beds, and this was the chosen place. The area is named for the profusion of pink wildflowers, including mountain laurel and rhododendron, which appears in the spring.

It was the smells that led us to breakfast from the car. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee burst through the air. Shortly behind were the scents of bacon frying in an iron skillet over a cooking fire. Hollers of welcome soon joined the mealtime odors.

Before long, blue tin plates, almost overflowing with eggs, grits, and bacon, were in each hand. Hot coffee or milk was poured into matching mugs. A hodgepodge of forks and spoons were available, and my grandparents (Alex and Edythe Cox), parents Sam and Evelyn Collins, various great aunts and uncles found canvas camp stools, metal lawn chairs, or stumps to sit on. There were always several station wagons, and the tail gates were let down for more seating.

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No one sat far away from the group, because everyone wanted to be part of the conversations. As the plates were cleaned, the chats increased.

Family memories were shared about my great grandparents and the rock house that Pop (Franklin Curtis Justus, 1871-1958) built. He was a contractor for the Saluda Grade that ran through the Saluda Mountain, and he owned acres of land in Hendersonville County until the Crash and Great Depression. A tall, strong man who took what was available in the job market, even if it was bagging groceries, to keep his family together. Hearing his adult children talk about him, their admiration was evident.

Granny (Minnie Fortune Justus, 1875-1970) graduated from Asheville Female College with a degree in Mistress of Arts and Sciences. To make ends meet for their large family of ten children, she took in boarders and used her gift of hospitality to make all welcome. From using clean, ironed cloth napkins at each meal to seeing that fresh room linens were always available, she taught her daughters why sharing the best was important. Even into her late 80’s, all received a warm welcome to her home.

I learned some of my family history at these breakfast picnics. This generation learned how to ride horses, before they drove cars. They plowed, planted, and weeded gardens before they ate the fruit of their labors and sold the access. Fishing, hunting, and raising beef cows, hogs, and chickens added to the vegetables they grew. Being only familiar with grocery shopping, their lives sounded like fascinating tall tales to me, similar to one of my favorite books, Little House on the Prairie.

Mostly I caught and grabbed hold to the love and respect that was an essential portion that tied them together. Though they lacked much in worldly possessions, they relished the retelling of stories about their kinfolk and lineage.

On my dad’s side of the family, we also often shared meals outdoors, rather than indoors.

For years, we spent his week of summer vacation at Mirror Lake Farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Though born in Louisville, Daddy, his two brothers, and sister learned to walk, climb trees, and milk cows on this dairy farm.

My grandmother Lulu and her brother and sister enjoyed getting together. When we visited, we spent one day in Lexington with her brother Owen Hitt. They lived outside the city, and his wife Carrie Lee would prepare a picnic lunch to be eaten on a picnic table under the trees in their back yard. There was fried chicken, an array of vegetables from her garden, hot biscuits with homemade butter, and cobbler for dessert. Sweet ice cold tea was the beverage. It was a feast! Our hostess was full of laughter and energetic. Our next treat was to go to the fence to talk and pat the horses in the field, and the adults joined us.

On another day, we went to Louisville to be with Aunt Kitty. Here we were back to the dining room with the lace tablecloth, silver, and lovely china. Our hostess was conscious of good eating habits, so baked chicken or ham, a couple of vegetables, yeast rolls, and usually a slice of pie were served. Water in goblets and coffee were served. This was where I first saw individual salt and pepper shakers and bread and butter plates and knives at each place, The table cloth and napkins were hand embroidered by her mother-in-law. I felt like a princess here and learned that table conversation can be quiet. Trying hard to be compliant and well-behaved in such surroundings was a challenge worth meeting. Going through the many book shelves in her home were the entertainment as the adults visited.

Lulu prepared a family picnic the day before we left for home. Contributions from everyone led to two eight-foot tables sagging under the weight of all the food offerings. Lulu’s garden served up lima beans, corn, tomatoes, green beans, and beets. Her blackberry cobbler and chocolate pie had to be tasted by all. Cousins came to play, and the yard was our playground. There was no jungle gym, but a tire swing hung from the apple tree. We hung on the rail fence to watch the cows meander back and forth from the barn. A game of softball catch was fun, and we tried our hands of little skill at horse shoes.

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Ladder back chairs and stools were brought out from the kitchen. The cast iron outdoor glider, swing, and chairs were arranged in a circle, so the adults could hear each other. We children were allowed to roam free after the blessing. Laughter and loud talking were in equal measure, as plates were refilled from the lavish tables.

They shared both familiar and new stories. Our ancestor Jesse James, the bank robber, was vilified and defended. Since we had all visited Boonesborough, Lulu would disclose her knowledge about Daniel Boone and his clearing a path through the Cumberland Gap. Then we begged for the story of Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia and his adventures in finding new land in Virginia with his Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. Sitting on the grass, making daisy-chain necklaces, these adventures became real.

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Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (George Caleb Bingham, oil on canvas, 1851–52)

It is no wonder that I used to pack my little brown suitcase and want to go to “Tucky. Since it was my doll’s luggage, there was little room for anything. But I wasn’t planning on an extended stay; I was yearning for my family and their stories.

American writer, Michele Huey, said “Roots are, I’m learning, as important as wings.”

Our stories are important; let’s share them with family and friends.

 

 

 

Spartanburg Snow

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Since I grew up in upstate Spartanburg, South Carolina, I have seen a few snowfalls, though never enough to suit me.

My dad enjoyed sledding with us in the snow. Our backyard on Penarth Road had a short slope to entertain us when we were younger. As we got older, he would take us to nearby Shoresbrook Golf Course, and we never wanted to leave. The hills Through the years, we would sled on biscuit pans, cardboard boxes, and finally  a sled.

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In my sixth grade year at Pine Street School, it snowed on Wednesday during  the month of March for three weeks, and school would be closed for the rest of the week. I can remember Daddy carefully driving and sliding up the hill to let Critt and me out, and we weren’t sure if we were going to get there. We had to trudge through piled snow, over our heads, to get to the school building.

Freezing rain, sleet, and snow made for continuing hazardous conditions; it was hard to get used to a full week of school at the end of the month.

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I believe the above photo gives an idea to the amount of snow.

There was humor amidst the problems of transportation and cabin fever.

A classic mountain story, possibly true, possibly not, comes from this great series of storms. A Red Cross team discovered an isolated cabin and landed their chopper to see if the family there was alright. They went up to the door and knocked, and were greeted by an elderly woman. “We’re from the Red Cross, ma’am,” one said. “I’m sorry,” she replied, “but we can’t give anything this year. It’s been a hard winter.”

Having shelves lined with canned vegetables, cows in the barn, chickens in the coop, wood stacked on the porch, and vegetables in the root cellar, those living in the mountains didn’t have to rely on the crazy run to the grocery stores for the proverbial milk and bread.

When John and I married in 1979, he told me he was on the snow patrol at Hoechst; that meant nothing to me, until he was called to duty. There were about 50 volunteers who drove shifts to pick up workers to keep the plant running, and he was a volunteer. These men, no women, first drove company cars with chains, and then cars with front wheel drive. Long hours included picking up workers, delivering them to the work site, and receiving a new list. In a time before GPS, there were no coffee or lunch breaks; staying in the roads and finding hidden homes were the main thing. The drivers put their lives, as well as their passengers’ lives, in their hands and the wheels of the vehicles they drove.

Once more this weekend, freezing rain, sleet, and snow appeared in our yards and on our roads. Arriving during the night, this wintry mix spilled its blanket.

I am a little snow crazy and have always been. Watching it fall brings a sense of peace, and seeing it spread its covering inch-by-inch amazes me. Both the tiny and fluffy flakes all work together.

When I woke up yesterday, John opened the blinds and brought us a cup of coffee to savor. What a serene way to start the day, and I so appreciated my husband’s making plans to start our day off in such a special way. He truly blesses me and has for 37 years.

As I look by on a few snow memories and forward to this new year, I am sure that there will be ways I can also bless others. This is my goal for this year: to keep my eyes and heart open to the needs of those I come in contact with.  Would you like to join me in intentionally being a blessing?

2 Corinthians 9:8-11 says, Besides, God is able to make every blessing of yours overflow for you, so that in every situation you will always have all you need for any good work. As it is written, “He scatters everywhere and gives to the poor; his righteousness lasts forever.”  Now he who supplies seed to the farmer and bread to eat will also supply you with seed and multiply it and enlarge the harvest that results from your righteousness. In every way you will grow richer and become even more generous, and this will cause others to give thanks to God because of us.

“Hope is being able to see there is light despite all of the darkness”

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. - Desmond Tutu

Perhaps you have lived through a tornado, but thankfully I have never had that experience. On the TV, I have seen the horrifying images of devastation cased by these funnel clouds. This morning I looked in amazement at a video a friend posted about last night; he lives about 15 miles from us. The image was of a small boat being pushed by the wind across his back yard.

Around dusk, a couple of major thunderstorms wandered across Spartanburg County. It became darker and more silent, as they approached. The winds built up, the skies darkened, and the emergency weather system broadcast its alerts. A tornado was spotted below our town, and another possible one was to the north.

No, we didn’t go to our hallway and shut the doors, but we continued to monitor the situation. In about an hour, the tornado warning was lifted. John went to the basement to be sure the sump pump was running and decided a ham sandwich, rather than a grilled steak was in order for our supper.

This morning we woke to a new day of sunshine; the storms had vanished and moved on.

Helen Keller is a heroine of mine. Her story is one of persistence, and the movie, The Miracle Worker, opened my eyes to how hope changes lives. The scene, at the water pump, where Anne Sullivan is pumping water into Helen’s six-year-old hand and finger spelling the word “water” into the other hand was profound. I can still see this in my mind, as joy, wonder, and hope melted together for Helen; the darkness was miraculously lifted. Her life started over.

Hope is mighty, like the light of one candle. It can pierce the darkness and enable us to sleep at night.

Shel Silverstein defines it this way. “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

Don’t you think we should choose hope?

 

“Come Rain or Come Shine”

I’m gonna love you, like nobody’s loved you
Come rain or come shine
High as a mountain, deep as a river
Come rain or come shine
I guess when you met me
It was just one of those things
But don’t you ever bet me
‘Cause I’m gonna be true if you let me
You’re gonna love me, like nobody’s loved me
Come rain or come shine
We’ll be happy together, unhappy together
Now won’t that be just fine
The days may be cloudy or sunny
We’re in or out of the money
But I’m with you always
I’m with you rain or shine.

The lyrics to this slow-moving declaration of love has moved hearts when sung by talents like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, Barbara Streisland, and others. The repetition clarifies the intensity and veracity of the commitment to someone. Published in 1946, after World War II, when couples were looking for lasting marriages, it became popular. Dancing to it played by the Tommy Dorsey Band would have moved married couples to believe again that their marriage could/should/would work.

My parents were married on October 29, 1946. After moving to Spartanburg in 1951, they joined the Quadrille Club. Along with other young couples, they dressed for a party in flowing long dresses and tuxedos to dance the night away. A Christmas dance and spring dance gave them opportunities for ballroom dancing with friends. Jitterbug, the dance of teens during this era, was not on the agenda. The caller for the dances, with the solemn “Ladies and Gentlemen” and then in exciting tones, introduced the fox trot, the waltz, and the cha cha.

Grace and elegance were part of these dances, and the above clip captures that.

Yesterday I started reading Jan Karon’s newest Father Tim novel called Come Rain or Come Shine.

This talented author, through the course of ten novels, has introduced us to the town of Mitford, North Carolina. Jan lives in Blowing Rock, NC where she retired from the advertising field at age 50. Her first Mitford novel, At Home in Mitford, was published in installments in the local paper. (You might remember that Charles Dickens had his first success in the literary world in this manner.)

Though Southern small town in setting, these character-driven novels deal with realism in the lives of children and adults. Each book holds a surprise for the reader, as a tragic side of life is explored. But entwined is hilarity in tone, dialogue, and circumstance. One of the funniest scenes to me is the wedding of stodgy, middle-aged bachelor Tim Kavanagh and his artist/writer/vivacious neighbor Cynthia Coppersmith. On their wedding day, dressed in her dowdy and well-worn bathrobe, the bride is locked into her bathroom when the handle of the door falls off. I could picture this crazy scene and laughed hilariously.

Two young people, adopted by couples with open hearts, as well as the law, Dooley Kavanagh and Lace Harper, are finally getting married in this latest story about a community that truly acts like an extended family. Mitford’s characters come alive once again as a simple home wedding expands into a town event. I laughed aloud several times yesterday and didn’t want to put it down, once again enjoying Jan Karon’s voice that states without interpretation that life is life. (Believe I might have to complete the reading today.)

The lyrics to this song enhance the turmoil in the book as this young couple move forward to their wedding day. Lack of money, a surprise selling of art, both clouds and sun in weather and circumstances, and a pot-luck wedding reception give credence that marriage is a time of “come rain or come shine.”

One of the quotes that Jan Karon shared that I read several times is good advice to help us live better as a couple, a family, or community.

“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business—even your own life is not your business. It is also God’s business!’ Frederick Buechner”

As always, in my reading, I am reminded of truth, even from the imaginary town of Mitford.