I grew up just outside of Kansas City where summer weather started before Memorial Weekend. The 4th of Julys were sunny& hot. We celebrated as a family by going to my Aunt Sissy and Uncle Ray's house because it was across the street from Shawnee Mission North High School which hosted a fabulous fireworks display.
Since it was always hot, my mom and dad made homemade ice cream. Mom made the yummy, rich vanilla custard and dad "manned" the ice cream freezer. The freezer was the kind we all love to find at estate sales. It was a funny shade of green that faded to a soft aqua. After placing the cannister in the wooden bucket, Dad filled the bucket with ice and just the right amount of rock salt to help melt the ice. The whole ice-to-salt- ratio, cranking-turning-magic thing is what made the most luscious vanilla ice cream.
Eventually he would add some folded towels or throw rugs on top of the whole contraption and have one of us sit on top to help keep it from moving while he cranked. It would get harder and harder to turn as the ice cream got thicker and thicker. The melted, salty water would drain out of a hole in the bottom of the wooden bucket and cool your hot, dirty bare feet.
When it was done freezing, he would pack it up and load it in the Chevy to take to our celebration. Gosh it was hard to wait. After all the potato salad, sliced home-grown tomatoes and barbequed chicken the ice cream was dished up. I can still taste that wonderful ice cream AND I can still remember the brain freeze you would get from eating it too fast! Didn't matter, it was worth it.
Once it was dark enough, the fireworks display would begin. We would lay on blankets in the front yard to watch the sky. All you could hear were "ooohs and aaahs". We always thought it was better than the year before. Suddenly there would be a huge burst of every kind of explosion and sparkle. One after another, then it was over for another year. Felt almost like opening your last Christmas present. Bitter-sweet.
Dad and Mom would load up the leftovers - which never included any of the ice cream - and we would head home. It was the one of two nights of the year that we would be out late. The other was New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve never compared to the 4th of July. Dad never made ice cream for New Year's Eve! The whole memory is golden.
Wishing you all a happy and safe 4th of July and a nostalgic, brain-freezing celebration. M.