Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
TITLE: Ice Cream, Strawberries and Sweet Corn
By Jim Oates
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As I previously said, it was only on someone’s birthday that this delectable treat was allowed in the house; served along with a big piece of Mom’s chocolate cake. It didn’t matter whose birthday it was, we all received the same size slice of Ice cream. In those days ice cream came in a brick the size of a pound of butter. Mom would meticulously divide it into six equal slices.
Somehow ice cream doesn’t seem to taste the same as away back then, In today’s world it isn’t the treat it once was.
Another treat of bygone days was home grown strawberries with thick cream skimmed off a bowl of milk from our Jersey cow. Mom always put a bowl of fresh milk in the ice box for cream to make butter. Speaking of butter; we always had real buttermilk; not the make-believe stuff they sell today. Oh my! Them were the days.
The ice box is something that has gone the way of the horse and buggy; in those days the ice man would deliver a huge block of ice and place it in the top compartment of our ice box. Hopefully it was a little too large for the box; in this case he trimmed it down to size by chipping it with his ice-pick. This is when the kids would clamber around to get the pieces chipped off. What a treat to suck on a mouthful of ice on a hot summer’s day. Sometimes we would meet him by his truck at the road and he would chip off pieces of ice to hand out to us.
After the strawberry season was over the raspberries came on. Soon it was the cherries. A little later in the season the sweet corn was ready. Early in the fall peaches were in a bountiful supply.
Mom always kept herself busy putting up fruit preserves for the winter as the season progressed. One of my fondest memories is when Mom made fruit jam; she usually skimmed off the frothy stuff and put in a saucer. Being the youngest, I was always a home when these exciting things happened and I got to scrape the pot and lick the spoon clean.
We lived on a gravel road with many pot holes. This was to our advantage as horse drawn wagons loaded high with sweet corn would pass by on the way to the canning factory. As they lumbered over the rough road, cobs of corn would fall to the ground. It was great sport for the neighborhood kids to see who could bring home the most corn for their Moms to cook for supper. Down by the railroad tracks was the best starting point as several cobs would fall as the wagon rocked and creaked as it bounced over the tracks. No matter how careful the teamster was, he nearly always lost some of the load. But if the load was tight and nothing was falling, one of the bravest boys would run and climb on the back of the wagon and gave it a helping hand.
Even now I wait for fruit and vegetables to come into season. It seems as though imported produce isn’t nearly as good as home grown. Besides if I am eating fruit and berries year around, they become old hat, they lose that something special. There is nothing like waiting for the first berries to ripen and buying a box at a roadside stand then sampling a few out of the box on the way home.
In season there is nothing like going out to my own garden for a large succulent tomato to make a sandwich. Eating fresh produce in season and making preserves for the winter is what brings back many childhood memories for me.
There is one exception to my rule; I buy ice cream in much larger containers now. It’s not quite as special as it once was, but it makes a fast and easy desert. I always have some in my fridge.
The ice man doesn’t come by any more; perhaps we are better off with our modern appliances like the refrigerator.
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