By Norris Chambers


         When I can first remember we had an ice cream freezer that had to be filled with ice and stuff and cranked for a long time. It was the duty of the little kids to sit on the freezer and hold it down while a larger kid or an adult handled the crank. As the freezer contents froze and thickened the crank was harder to turn and the operation worked better with a heavier kid sitting on top. An old pillow was usually provided, for both comfort and protection from the cold emanating from the ice and salt just below the seat.

            The home frozen ice cream was a real treat and everyone looked forward to a bowl or two of the delicacy! Most of us didn’t know about the store-bought variety or the fancy, hand-held cones sold in some stores. When we went to town I saw kids, and sometimes adults, licking the ice cream from the top of long, inverted funnel things. At that tender age I wondered why it would be served in such a container. How would the good stuff be eaten when the contents became so low that the tongue would not go any further into the container?  I kept waiting to see how it was done, but it seemed that we had to leave before the cream got that low.

            I asked Clifton if he knew how they got the bottom ice cream and he thought maybe you were given a long, slender spoon with the purchase. I had never seen the user of the cone with a spoon, but I could have overlooked it. We kept watching every time we saw someone with the hand-held ice cream and still the secret was well kept.

            Clifton was the first to discover the answer. He had seen a kid with a cone perform an unexpected act. He took a bite of the shell and apparently ate it with the ice cream. We were smart enough to deduct the answer – the cone was made of edible material; probably candy or hard cake. We were usually given a nickel for goodies when we went to the store. We had been buying various kinds of candy with it. We decided to try one of the ice cream goodies the next time we were in the right store and had a nickel!

            It wasn’t long until the money and the place were ready and willing for us to try the new treat. We walked bravely up to the bar and told Mr. Larson that we wanted an ice cream cone. The man behind the counter smiled and asked nicely, “What flavor would like today?”

            The flavor was something we hadn’t thought about. We had never had any kind of ice cream except the home frozen vanilla. Clifton asked if he had vanilla. He assured him that he was well stocked with that flavor. I was a little more daring and asked him what flavors he had.

He hurriedly named several. I was not familiar with most of the names so I just said I’d have vanilla. Then there was another decision. “One or two scoops?” he asked. I did not fully understand the scoop question but I figured two was better than one. I told him I’d take two. Clifton said he also wanted two. We soon had our first ice cream cones. When we laid our nickels on the bar he smiled and politely told us that the double dip cones were ten cents instead of five.

            “We’ve only got a nickel,” Clifton told him. “We thought they were a nickel.” He explained that with the extra scoop on top they cost a dime instead of the one scoop for a nickel. I reluctantly asked him if he could take off a scoop. He just grinned and told us it was all right this time, but remember next time that two scoops are a dime.

            Two happy kids walked out of the store with their first ice cream cones. Both Clifton and I had taken the first tongue lick across the top. I liked it and I was sure that Clifton did because he was grinning like a pleased possum. We headed for the truck and prepared to climb onto the bed to be seated on the wooden bench that served as a back seat for extra passengers.

            I stepped on the fender, holding my precious cone in my left hand, grabbed a sideboard stake and made my way to the seat. Clifton was about ready to make the same climb when a little girl walked up. She was about the same age and size as Clifton and made some comment to get his attention. She then asked him if she could have a bite of his ice cream. Before he could answer she reached for the cone. Clifton quickly jerked it back and the sudden movement dislodged the tall stack of ice cream on top. The chunk of ice cream hit the girl’s leg and fell to the ground. Somehow Clifton dropped the cone and any remaining ice cream it might have contained.

            The visitor began crying loudly and ran toward the store. Clifton climbed on the truck and sat down beside me. I asked him if he wanted a bite of mine but he declined. I had to laugh a little bit about the incident, but Clifton never did see the humor in it. I guess his sense of humor had not developed at that early age!