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A Second Scoop of Ice Cream Memories

September 23, 2015

 

A Second Scoop of Ice Cream Memories

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Thanks to receiving additional ice cream remembrances from my sister, cousin Donald, Aunt Kathy, friend Fran, as well as from several writer friends, I am serving a second scoop of ice cream memories. Thus, this Wordwalk blog post will be an unexpected continuation of last week’s post “An Ice Cream Menu of Memories” (September 16, 2015).

 

After all these years of spumoni ice cream, I am quite happy and excited to finally know the origin of my Aunt Zita’s spumoni pie which she served for many years at her Binole’s Restaurant, in Blanford, Indiana. According to her younger son, Donald, Aunt Zita created the recipe for the spumoni pie (and even possibly had input into the recipe for the spumoni ice cream) as the result of one of the Binole family August trips to St. Louis. Before the building of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Aunt Zita, her husband Bill, and their two sons ate at a number of Italian restaurants so that Aunt Zita could gather ideas for Aunt Zita and Uncle Bill’s Italian restaurant. Donald believes that on one of these trips(probably in the 1940s or early 1950s), Aunt Zita not only tried a piece of spumoni ice cream pie for the first time; but, as was typical of my aunt, she very slowly ate the treat so that she could analyze the dessert’s ingredients to be able to duplicate the delicious spumoni pie. Fortunately, Don also has a distinct recollection of Aunt Zita’s standing at the big and long oak bar in the main room of their Binole’s Restaurant and reading from a sheet of paper on which she had written the recipe for the spumoni ice cream pie; she was reading the recipe to the owner of Wright’s Ice Cream Company, of Cayuga, Indiana. Consequently, as I mentioned last week, Wright’s Ice Cream Company made the delicious spumoni ice cream pie for Binole’s Restaurant for many years. As described in my previous blog post, the spumoni pie was comprised of a chocolate pie crust, with a bottom layer of chocolate ice cream, a middle layer of cherry ice cream (rosy pink in color), and a top layer of pistachio ice cream which was sprinkled with chocolate crumbs.

 

Since I clearly remember a family trip to Florida in 1964 when Aunt Zita accompanied us and since I recall Aunt Zita’s ordering spaghetti at each Florida restaurant where we dined to analyze the sauce and whatever else she ordered, I can certainly imagine her in my mind re-creating the spumoni pie recipe for her family restaurant. On that Florida vacation, we tried to convince my dear and special aunt to order something other than her own specialty–spaghetti; but she was a chef on a mission and stuck with ordering the pasta. Unsurprisingly, Aunt Zita and Uncle Bill’s older son–also named “Bill”–earned a degree in chemistry, became a food chemist, and was later employed as a manager of a food plant.

 

After last week’s posting, with more thoughts of Wright’s Ice Cream Company, I remembered the rectangular pieces of vanilla ice cream (about the size of a small post card and about one inch in depth). For example, the ice cream specialties were decorated with hearts for Valentine’s Day and a holiday design for the Christmas season. On special occasions, I enjoyed this vanilla treat from Wright’s also.

 

With more thought of vanilla ice cream, my Aunt Kathy, the much younger sister of my dad and his three brothers, shared with me some of her special ice cream memories. She grew up on the farm in Klondyke, Indiana, in the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. For many of these years, the farm did not have electricity and, therefore, no ice cream. Consequently, having an ice cream at my parents’ house or at my maternal grandmother’s store was a real treat for my aunt when she was young. Additionally, my aunt (who is only ten years older than my sister) fondly remembers that on her lunch break at Fairview Grade School, she was quite happy to walk across the street from the school and buy a Dixie Cup of vanilla ice cream. The most dramatic story which she related revolved around waiting for ice cream to arrive in an unusual way. In the early years of my aunt’s childhood, my grandmother and her friend Julia Procarione walked five miles to Clinton to purchase grocery items which the farms did not produce. As Grandma “Farm” and Julia walked home on the railroad tracks, my Aunt Kathy “waited with bated breath” for their return with the vanilla ice cream. When my grandma and Julia arrived home with the pint of ice cream (which was in a white carton as frequently Oriental takeout food is today), the ice cream was dripping from the carton. My aunt emphasized, “Needless to say, the ice cream was quite melted, but so good and such a treat.”

 

After all my writing about ice cream of various flavors last week, I will stick with vanilla to point out more ice cream memories of which my sister wrote in her comment on my blog post of September 16. Like Mary, I certainly remember the Brown Cow–vanilla ice cream with either Pepsi or Coke–which was a refreshing treat from our own kitchen. I also recall dubbing a float made of vanilla ice cream and 7-UP a “White Cow.” Another combo with vanilla ice cream that both my sister and I remember from the freezer at the grocery store of my maternal grandmother and my Uncle Pete was the Newlywed which, with its roll of intertwining vanilla ice cream and devil’s food cake, seemed so innovative to me at that time in the 1950s. Of course, my Grandma Farm, as my sister noted in her comment on my previous Wordwalk post, took a bowl of vanilla or chocolate ice cream and stirred it until it was the consistency of a thick milk shake. Grandma called this homemade type of soft-serve ice cream “polenta,” after the mushy cornmeal Italian delicacy. Although I cannot properly spell the words of her Italian dialect, I can clearly hear my Grandma talking in a find blend of Italian and English as she made the ice cream “polenta” for my sister and me and later for my younger cousins B.J. and Lisa. Now all the fancy kitchen equipment that could whip the ice cream in a couple of seconds could not compare with Grandma’s making of “polenta” ice cream.

 

A different type of vanilla ice cream that I believe I had only once was ice cream made of snow. Sometime in the mid 1950s, my sister and I were at the home of our neighbor Margie. She introduced us to ice cream made of snow. Well, on this first day of autumn, I will tell you that I am not waiting with bated breath for the first snowfall in Wisconsin to make ice cream of snow. I wonder if people in the 1800s and early 1900s made snow into a frozen, sweet treat. Despite my historical ponderings, I will continue to be thankful for electricity, refrigeration, and real ice cream.

 

My last step along this “Ice Cream Memory Lane” is onto my “Ice Cream Soapbox.” Through the posting of my previous memoir, family members and friends helped me to remember more and to learn more about my family tree. With your family members, please take the time to share and record in writing, audio, and/or video your family stories. Take the time to preserve your family history for your enjoyment today and for the generations of tomorrow. Besides writing these memoirs for my Wordwalk readers and for myself, I write of my family history for my two grand-nieces and my three grand-nephews–ages one month to five years. I would like for them to have not just a family tree of names and dates, but a family tree with colorful autumn leaves of family stories.

 

 

Happy autumn to all!

With a double dip of thanks to family members and friends

who shared with me scoops of ice cream memories for this post,

Alice and Zoe

 

September 23, 2015, Wednesday

 

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5 Comments
  1. When I was in the hospital with pneumonia at the age of thirteen, one nurse used to make me milkshakes. I think she mixed them the way your grandmother did, by hand, and they were pretty good. Nowadays, there’s Insure and similar products for senior citizens made from milk and packaged in cartons or cans. Bill drank these during his last days at the nursing home and seemed to like them, but they’re not the same as milkshakes made with real ice cream. Thanks for the additional memories.

    • Abbie–Thanks for sharing the sweet story about the nurse who gave you some special attention. I am certain that your story will make a nurse in my family smile. Take care–Alice

  2. Alice. You are doing your family name proud with your recollections from the past. Nothing tastes sweeter, nor slides across your lips better than those family tales of yesterday, unless that is if you’re talking chocolate ice cream dripping with hot fudge and chocolate jimmies sprinkled along the top. Thanks once again for a delicious trip down those tasty avenues of your past. dp

  3. Thanks for the continuation of the ice cream memories, Alice! Most of all, our family owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude for your time, expertise, and creativity in recording stories that will be cherished for years to come. Grandma Farm told us so many stories of her youth in Italy and her early years in the US. I know she would be very proud of all the family history you have shared in your blog posts!
    Love, Mary

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