Ice Cream You Scream

Tales of Vashon


John Sweetman’s Mother was notorious for making odd combinations such as ‘avocado’ and mango.. things that were unusual in the early fifties.

One time when cream was in short supply.. She used homemade buttermilk.. Made kind of a sherbet with pineapple… Surprisingly good and later she told me that she had not enough sugar and added malted milk powder… it was good and probably ‘Baskin Robbins’ stole her idea!

It was a nice warm sunny day when John and Diane came over with their homemade ice cream, Not the kind you had to crank by hand, when the cream began to thicken and the cranking became harder.   John’s ice cream maker had an electric motor; the strawberries had just come off the bush, juicing easily and so sweet as to make Jimmy Matsumoto and his huge Marshall strawberries; lose the race.

In the old days we would have to pack the bags of ice down from the peach orchard where the car was parked and make ice cream in a stainless steel drum that was full of cream clear to the top where the shaft to the paddles stuck out!  Alternate layers of ice and salt were laid between the drum and the inside of the 3 gallon wooden barrel with steel rings around the outside to hold it together.  The cream became thicker the colder the drum got, the right combination of salt and ice made the steel drum fog on top and the cranking: “Hey Mom, make Mike take his turn.”  The cranking was getting tough for a 12 year old.  Mom couldn’t hear me.  She was too far away and besides, Mikey was her favorite and got away with things that Molly and I would be scared to contemplate.

“With that, I took another spoonful of ice cream covered with strawberries, the sugared juice running down the sides of the ice cream.”

“I scream, you scream; we all scream for ice cream” was a “mantra” that could be heard across the country in the 1950’s, and much earlier as a song from 1921.  Of course, us kids thought that it only belonged on Vashon and had originated somewhere near the Dairy Queen at the south end of town.

Maybe Grandma Ollie had taught us, about “Ice Cream You Scream” since she was known for causing our parents problems, such as when they left us to stay with her to go to Victoria for a short vacation from us kids.

On Sunday morning, Grandma sent us up the hill above Cove to attend Sunday school at the Methodist church.  Grandma called herself a “heathen” though we found much later that she was a Congregationalist an offshoot of the Quakers.  When our folks came home on Sunday, Dad had brought us a small wooden dugout canoe, which gift was dampened when we showed him our gold and red starred report cards from Sunday school at the Methodist church.  Dad was “mad as a wet hen,” though I doubt he ever said anything to Grandma Ollie, our being “died in the wool” Catholics.

As diplomats, we failed miserably; being noted more for our “whining”; trying to get out of chores or complaining: “Mom, Mike is kicking my seat, make him stop,” Molly whined.  Mom responded, “You kids stop your bickering.”

Any plea to stop for ice cream was wasted; if we were acting up in the back seat.  “Awe Mom, ‘Please?” fell on deaf ears.

In the summer we often stopped at the Homestead at Portage after Sunday Mass at Dockton, where the picnic table was covered with a hand split cedar roof and our Grandfather, Papa Jim had a large white apron and a white chef’s hat while he flipped pancakes on a steel grate over a wood fire with a six foot concrete chimney.  Grandma Ada would be busy mixing batter and carrying it out to the fire, with her red bandana wrapped around her head.  There were 52 Malone’s, Mattson’s and Carahers living on Vashon at the time.

Hand cranked ice cream was almost a Sunday habit as we fought over who got to lick the paddle after most of the ice cream had been scraped off.

Later in the 70’s, Sister Molly remembers Cousin Michael Pickford sweating at the crank for 90 minutes with only runny ice cream to prove it.  Michael didn’t have the right combination of salt and ice.