What’s in that bucket pops?
Looking back over my Okie heritage, a summer had never passed without the turning-churning handle of the coveted ice cream maker. Possibly a wooden sided hand-cranked ‘White Mountain.’ And my Okie parents were in to this Heart and Soul. It was a big part of their Oklahoma heritage. A summer ritual pass time never to be delayed or ignored.
The sacred sacraments were: Vanilla, eggs milk, bananas, and the list goes on. “Carl go find the ice cream maker and will take it down to the church tonight” my mom would command with the ritual intent of a creamery High Priestess.
In order to prepare for the making of the “cream” was like Holy work was about to begin. First you have to get all your sacred ducks in a row. Eggs, sugar, whole milk, vanilla, and a few cooked ingredients I didn’t know much about.
But anyway, if you weren’t part of the liturgy then, you must stay out of the way. Elbows will certainly fly and feet will shuffle to-and-fro. Blenders will churn. And then, the Okie Ice Cream magic will begin.
To observe this from a distance, you would think The Arch Bishop of Haagen-Daz was coming to the creaming ceremony himself in full Good Humor regalia. Putting on the dog doesn’t hardly describe this High sacred Okie event. This is performed only by vested Okie ice cream handlers. Only the family creamery patriarchs can handle the revered liturgy. Ice cream maker. Crushed ice. And Rock Salt. It’s delicate and practiced work. Work only tribal Okie elders can do.
So, here it comes. Delivered and handled as if in a silver chalice. A metallic vessel filled with the summer nectar. Taken by the elders and placed in an oaken bucket and buried in crystal shards of ice. Then anointed with small pellets of rock salt. Yes. It is that most hallowed time.
Gentlemen! Start your ice cream makers. Do it slow and steadily. Never stop. Crank it as long as you can without someone sitting atop the iced revolving stainless-steel bucket. But, when necessary, when the cream stiffens, find your sitting partner. Place him or her atop the hand-cranked contrivance and it will give you better cranking leverage. May the best man win. And, when he does, give me a bowl full. I prefer fresh banana ice cream thank you.
Back in my youthful days there were Oklahoma picknicks south in Lakewood or Long Beach. Dozens and dozens if not hundreds of Okies shuffling about with bowl and spoon. Enjoying reunions with other Oklahomans that migrated to California in the 1930s and 40s. Happy Okie picknick days y’all.