Days Gone By - stories from the past

Ice Cream Sunday – Life Was So Much Simpler Back Then [film and photographs]

Ice Cream” Sunday


Ben White

It was Sunday morning; the sun was just beginning to come over the horizon, the sky was clear and just turning the early pink from dark blue. It had rained during the night and you could see the crystal droplets on the fresh green grass. The birds were chirping and the Doves were cooing. Everything, including the air, was clean, it looked as though someone had just finished spring-cleaning. The temperature was that perfect cool – where it’s not necessary to wear more than a very light jacket.

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The twelve-year-old young boy was delivering newspapers to his local route, which included the homes of family and friends.  He had gotten up at the regular 4:30 A.M. time to ride his bike, with the large wire basket, to the branch office of the hometown newspaper.  There he gathered the large Sunday papers.  He rolled them and stuffed them into the bag, before placing the bag into the large wire basket that overpowered the whole bike.paperboy1

Off he went to deliver the papers to his customers.  It was not unusual for several customers to be waiting as he made his rounds.  You see everyone liked the comics or the sports section and some the advertisements that made the paper so huge.

Having finished the delivery of papers, by close to 7 A.M., it was back home and get ready for the rest of the day.  First was a large breakfast. Eggs, bacon, biscuits, coffee or juice and of course milk gravy.  The eggs were once over fried, in the bacon grease, and then the gravy was made using what remained of the bacon grease.  Biscuits were homemade and crusty light brown. Um – Um, good!country-breakfast-special

Then as the family shares the one bathroom, all of the family gets dressed and ready for the jaunt to church.  Mother makes a batch of ice cream to put in the ice tray and freeze for the dinner dessert (dinner was what the noonday meal was in our house).

After everyone was spiffed up in our Sunday go-to-meeting clothes, dress pants, white shirt and tie and a pretty dress for mother – off we went to walk nearly one mile to church.  You see our family did not own a car.  (If the weather was too bad, we didn’t go to church unless someone with a car offered us a ride).  We could walk about 5 blocks and catch the bus, which was the mode of public transportation, for seven cents per person.  Because that was a lot of money for the family at that time, we rarely rode the bus to church.  So walking was our traditional way to get somewhere.1950s Church clothes (2)

Church was a requirement in our family!  We belonged to a local Methodist church.  Mother and Dad (Dad, not Father, because God was the Father) went to the married couples class and the children went to the age group department for them.  Usually, the kids sat with friends during the preaching service. Or as we grew old, we might sing in the church choir.  At any rate shortly after noon, we were on our way back home.

Sunday dinner was always more special than any other day, because all of us were there for the meal.  On the table was the small black, Philco, AM radio, tuned to some big band radio program while we ate. philco radio

Sunday dinner was also the primary meal of the week.  (It may have been the only day of the week that we had meat as one of the items to eat).  We usually had meat and vegetables at the Sunday dinner.  Often it was fried chicken or maybe it was a roast with cornbread, mashed (creamed) potatoes and some green vegetable.  Then, of course, there was gravy- this time it was brown gravy if the meat was a roast, or milk gravy if fried chicken was the fare.Southern-Fried-Chicken-4820

So to the strains of Les Brown and the Band of Renown, Harry James, Guy Lumbardo and the Canadians, or some other big band, the family offered thanks to God for the food and gifts bestowed on us. Then we ate!

After the main course was over, dessert was served. (Remember the ice tray of ice cream placed in the freezer compartment of the frigidare (refrigerator).  We had cookies or cake along with the ice cream.  Talking was very sparse during this time because the ice cream would melt.  “Ice Cream” Sunday was not every week, so it was a special day when we had it.

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About Benjamin T. White

Ben White was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a Birmingham News Carrier from 1949 until 1957 in the Forrest Park area of Birmingham. He served in the US Air Force from 1962- 1986 and retired as A Lieutenant Colonel as a Communications Electronics Officer. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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