While reading William Least Heat Moon’s book, Prairie Erth I came across the outdated term
“ice cream social”. I immediately recalled my grandmother Brown, my mother’s mother, a lady who passed a decade before I came on the scene. She was a product of the old ice cream social era, a means used to generate funds for the local school as well as other community events.
Ladies, married and unmarried, prepared box dinners consisting of two half-sandwiches and two pieces of pie. Evidently, someone else furnished the ice cream, enough for a serving around (I didn’t think to ask while someone could answer that question). The boxes were colorfully decorated, and strict security measures were evoked to conceal the identity of each preparer, so they said. At a predetermined time an auction was started. Men, young and old, bid on certain ones hoping they had guessed correctly, because the winner got to dine with the preparer.
In order to keep the things honest the preparer put a slip of paper her box bearing her name. My grandmother, Susie Brown, always participated. No one ever said, but I can only imagine the disappointment when some young buck had lunch with someone old enough to be his mother.
When World War I started troop trains steamed from west to east, and always stopped at Carlton, Nebraska to replenish the water supply for steam. Troops were not allowed to leave the trains.
Grandma Susie, armed with train schedules, prepared numerous boxes of fried chicken and sandwiches. And while the train was stopped she, and my mother handed food through the open coach windows. Each box, like the ice cream social, contained a slip of paper bearing Grandma Susie’s name and postal address. One soldier, Peter, responded. Throughout the war Peter stayed in contact and mailed photos of himself as well as non-classified activities occurring in France.
This is the photo Peter mailed to my
Grandma Susie from France during
World “War I.