Normally, I’m not one to pick up and write from a prompt, maybe because it seems more like a school assignment than a fun challenge. However, “your earliest memory involving ice cream” in my new Writer magazine intrigued me.
In a time long ago that seems like yesterday, Daddy supplemented his meager pastor’s salary from the country church he pastored with a meager salary as a teacher and principal at the three-room six-grade school. Feeling my maturity as an almost six-year-old first grader, I established that I could walk to and from school alone in the mornings and afternoons since Daddy had to be there early and work late. We walked home and back together at lunch.
This is where the ice cream came in. The village store was on our chosen return path after lunch, and Daddy frequently made a stop to get ice cream on our way. He bought me a single dip for a nickel, a double dip for himself for a dime. (Adults needed more in those days.) I was sworn to secrecy with the empathetic explanation that my younger sisters would get their feelings hurt if they knew of my privilege. Knowing this advantage would disappear if I told, I kept the secret carefully.
Only in recent years after all four of the McGee sisters have ice cream and to spare in our freezers did I reveal this bit of information that might have been seen as favoritism. Our parents are no longer living, but we laughed a bit about another and perhaps bigger reason Daddy wanted me to keep the secret. Our parents agreed about most of the important things in life, but money management was not one of them. If Daddy had a nickel in his pocket, its purpose was for spending. Mama, on the other hand, believed in splurging on no frivolities until all the necessaries were firmly taken care of. Ice cream would obviously be a frivolity.
Mama’s tight fist kept us afloat through many insufficient times, and I am grateful. Just the same, I treasure the feeling of the special treat with Daddy as I conjure up licking my tongue over the cold, smooth vanilla ice cream.