by Theresa Snyder
I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream!
I remember the time we hosted an “Ice Cream Sunday.” We supplied the ice cream and everyone else brought their favorite toppings and bases, such as bananas and brownies.
All the family and our six guests piled sundae dishes and banana split dishes high with three kinds of ice cream, toppings, whipped cream, nuts, sprinkles, animal cookies, mini-Oreo cookies and cherries. We took our creations out on the deck in 80-plus degree weather and ate to our heart’s content.
For those of us who could manage it, we had a second round. After that, it was mostly talking, listening to the waterfall cascading into the pond and relaxing in the shade of the wisteria.
We Snyders have a long history of loving ice cream. When we were all much younger, Mother used to fix huge Sunday meals with all the trimmings. We would have roast with potatoes, carrots, gravy, green beans – simmered, slow with bacon and onion – rolls, and huge glasses of milk to wash everything down.
But, Mother became ill and that left Dad in charge. My father was not much of a cook at that time — except when we went camping. At those times he manned the fire and did the cooking. His favorite meal was bacon, hash browns, and sliced tomatoes with bread and butter. I must admit we all loved it.
At home, Dad was helpless. At that time in his life, I think he would have starved rather than cook something in the house. You have to remember that fast food was not necessarily an option in those days, and T.V. dinners were a treat we didn’t receive often because they were so expensive.
So Dad took the easy way out of the cooking duty. He piled all of us kids in the car on Sunday night and took us to the grocery store where he would instruct some to pick out a couple of kinds of cookies and some to pick out the two gallons of ice cream. There was often a major debate on the flavors of the ice cream. We didn’t care much about the cookies. If Mom didn’t make them, and they were not enhanced by being dunked, globed with or buried in ice cream, they wouldn’t even be eaten. A cookie was not a cookie unless Mom made it.
However, there was a whole different attitude toward the ice cream. Many times, Dad would not have money for anything other than the vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry that could be purchased in big plastic buckets. After all, he had ten of us to feed.
Sometimes though, after he’d just gotten paid, we would splurge on more expensive half-gallons of ice cream in flavors such as Rocky Road, Tin Roof Sundae and Pecan Praline. Those were the good times. Of course, we didn’t know much about cholesterol back then.
In my mind, those “Ice Cream Sundays” went on for weeks, maybe even months. I know they didn’t. Mother never would have allowed that, and in those days, she certainly was not ill for long periods of time.
Given the choice of pies, cakes, cookies, and candy, Daddy would rather eat ice cream any time. My dad is six feet tall and weighs the same weight he did when he married my mom. The weight has redistributed itself a bit, with less muscle and more paunch, but he still is technically skinny.
Dad can eat a half-gallon of ice cream in a day. He used to do this until his doctor found out.
“James, your cholesterol is creeping up. What are you eating?” the doctor asked.
“Same as I always do,” Dad replied.
“What are you snacking on?” the doctor inquired.
“I eat a bit of ice cream,” Dad admitted.
“Yes?” the doctor coaxed.
“Well, I have a bowl for a mid-morning snack and maybe a bowl after lunch.”
“Yes?” The doctor pressed further.
“And maybe a bowl in the afternoon or one after dinner for dessert – and maybe a bowl before bed,” Dad confessed sheepishly.
That was the end of major ice cream eating for the Snyders. If Dad gave it up, we all had to cut back.
Thankfully though, sometimes there are still “Ice Cream Sundays” and all the memories that come with them.
This is the tenth in a monthly series, “We 3,” which introduces VoiceCatcher readers to Theresa Snyder and her stories – sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious, always authentic – about caring for aging parents. First printed as a monthly column in the Gresham Outlook between 2003 – 2008, they were collected in book-form in 2007 (Mt. Hood Community College Press). The columns have been updated and are reprinted here with permission of the author.
Theresa Snyder has been writing ever since she can remember. In 1996, shortly after she moved her elderly parents in with her, she realized she couldn’t resist writing “out loud.” She found an audience in east county interested in reading about the challenges and rewards of being a baby boomer caregiver. Unlike other authors, she does not possess a degree or a long list of publishing credits. Instead, she likes to think she has earned her title as “author” through life experience and a great deal of reading. Check out her work at Baby Boomer Caregiver.