AUTHOR SUNDAY: 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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  1. Thanks for the memories! These take me back to growing up in Trussville. Our lives were very similar, except I had a crush on our “paper boy”. You had a good family!

  2. Back when blacks had their very own water fountains and bathrooms? Back when the KKK could freely burn crosses in people’s front yards? Back when young black men were strung up in trees? Back when indoor plumbing was only for the wealthy? Back when you could smell Birmingham a good 20 miles before you entered the city? Yeah so much simpler…………

    1. No a/c and mother made all our clothes? I am white and not everyone of any color was rich

    2. Back when my family lived in an old army tent with a dirt floor? But let us pull our selves UP! Time for whining is now over. Time to come together is NOW. Now is what you make it!

    3. Not whining!! Just not falling for false nastalgia…..

    4. Yeah, and there were black who weren’t racists? Yeah, then. Grow up and get over yourself.

    5. Yep, whining. I personally knew many black folks who loved living in that time. Sure there was prejudice (from both sides!), but we got by. And I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. And all the whining and baiting in the world won’t change those memories.

    6. What a ass you are, you racist SOB. And you call yourself a ordained minister.

    7. I’m sorry but do you know the man that you just called a racist and an sob? Do you know that the man you just called that will take in people that others would find not worthy? Do you know that this man serves those that no one else would dare serve because they do not fall under the same beliefs? Do you know that this man loves and cares for all humans and animals and our planet? Do you know this man takes care of the sick and the elderly and he feeds the hungry. Do you really know this man, or are you just making assumptions? Do you know that he teaches love? He not only teaches it he shows it. So until you know someone you can not judge him and name calling is for children who do not have the vocabulary to express themselves.

      1. Well said Catherine. Everyone should judge themselves before judging others

  3. Reminds me of my first brain freeze…

  4. I love reading these stories!

  5. Yep , pretty much how life was.and everybody went to church!!

  6. No ice cream on Sunday morning. Church clothes. Our homemade Ice cream was Saturday nite outside watching stars. And playing by moonlight. Lots of times it was also at the creek on hot days with watermelon.

  7. Thanks for the time you put into these articles. Brings back pleasant memories (and we were poor) Church was really the only place we got to go and it was wonderful memories.

  8. I remember it well. Great days

  9. Sounds just like the way I grew up except we had an old hand cranked ice cream freezer Thai I got to sit on as daddy turned the crank. Such blessed memories. Oh and meat and desserts were only for Sundays.

  10. Waiting for 1st day of May to go skinny dipping in the creek,. The water was cold. No refgigeration or even ice box. Kept milk, and other things needing refrigeration in the spring. Hoping to have watermellons by July 4th.

  11. Great story. Reminds me of the early days of my wife and children. My wife can still cook Alabama style, though she’s a Texan. Of course her maternal ancestors moved from Limestone and Lauderdale Counties, AL. to Texas in the late 1900s. But the Sundays were the same, the food the same. You have to have lived it to appreciate what it was – and sometimes, perhaps, not appreciate what it was. But if you didn’t iive it you don’t know as much about it as you think you do…. so be careful what you say about it….

  12. Sounds like Sundays in the 1940s and ’50s at our house when I was growing up in south Alabama. That was the day we ate in the dining room and used our good dishes and glasses. We always had meat–usually fried chicken or roast beef. And often mashed potatoes, that we called “creamed” potatoes, and always, gravy to go on top! English peas was one of my mother’s favorite veggies to serve in the winter, and pear-and-cheese salad, anytime, with a blob of mayo on top. And we had dessert, many times a Banana Pudding or a cake. My favorites were Chocolate icing cake or bought pound cake with peaches. The bought pound cake was a treat for us. Now its a treat to have home made pound cake!

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