Under the heading of “How it all began”, this is the entrance to the cemetery where my great, great grandfather rests, beside my double great grandmother. While her name has been lost to the elements, his is still readable, Michael Cashen. He immigrated here from Ireland during the potato famine of the 1800’s, somehow ending up in Daviess County, buying a farm, and settling down.
Papa Blandford is one of his grandsons. Although Papa is not buried in that cemetery, several of my ancestors are. I regret that I never took my charcoal pencils and paper out to make rubbings of the markers when I was able to navigate the rough ground out there, but at least we know where the monuments are. My brother, Ray, is pastor of that parish now, but his knees are in worse shape than my entire body (and he’s the baby boy of the family). I just love reminding him that he looks as old as dirt. Too bad I don’t have a photo of him before Mom shamed him into confining his hair and beard into something more civilized than the Grizzly Adams look he once had. Or it may have taken a direct order from the Bishop. It’s hard to remember.
So, this background is just to open a post inspired by my friend Marisa (http://mcprocopo.wordpress.com) when we were discussing the old days and time machines. She suggested I write a post about Papa and the Sunday afternoon ice cream we enjoyed each summer. And that wonderful dash Papa would pull out when the ice cream was finished, and just left in the churn to ripen for an hour or so. We didn’t have cameras back then. None of our families could afford one, but if anyone had asked if we were poor, we would all have told them “no”. We felt rich, rich in cousins, in food, in family, and most of all, rich in love. We all had each other, and we had our grandparents who loved us all, with no favorites. We were all the favorite.
I found this photo of an ice cream churn with the dash being pulled out on the Internet. Public access, so I feel free to use it. This churn is not as well used as Papa’s was, but the kids pulling it out are probably as hopeful as we were when Papa pulled it out each Sunday, scraped most of the ice cream back into the bucket, then handed the rest to the lucky recipient of the week. The rest of us would stand around and watch, hoping the lucky cousin would also be a generous cousin, but knowing he or she would not, since none of us were very generous when it was our week. And Papa was there to make sure no one tried to take it away from the one who had waited patiently for their turn with the dash.
The ice cream was almost always vanilla, but occasionally Grandmother would have fresh peaches or strawberries to add to the churn. They had to be added toward the end of the process so they wouldn’t all sink to the bottom, and of course we were always doubly excited about that. And there was always the berry bowl to lick clean too. Can you see why I hung around my Grandmother so much back in those wonderful days?
Home churned ice cream has to “ripen” in the churn, so after the dash is removed a cork is put in the hole to plug it, the can is pushed back down in the salted ice, more ice and salt is piled on top, and Papa would then put several layers of grass sacks on top to keep it from melting.
While the dessert was ripening, we would troop in the house for dinner, usually huge platters of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, some other kinds of vegetables, bread, and then the adults would be too full for dessert. Until I grew up I was sure they did this on purpose to keep us waiting for the ice cream, but now, I understand oh, so well that if you eat a meal first, dessert has to come later. That’s why I now eat dessert first, so I won’t be too full from the main course.
Okay, the old folks have had their siesta, the cousins have run off every calorie they ate and a few others too, so it’s finally time to break out the dessert. Grandmother always had cake and/or pie that was baked on Saturday, and I don’t mean only one, but usually 2 cakes or 6 pies. That is part of the fun of a huge family. So while the ladies were slicing the cake or pie, Papa, accompanied by a slew of grandchildren, was bringing in the ice cream. Mainly one scoop each if the entire family showed up. If some of them weren’t there we might get 2 scoops, but that didn’t happen very often. We were all close enough to walk to see Grandmother and Papa on Sunday if the parents didn’t want to go.
None of our mamas raised any dummies.