Ice cream social through the years


Last Monday was pie day. Some of my good friends as well as my sister, Kathy, sister-in-law, Betheen, and Betheen’s mother, Iola, joined me in my kitchen to make pies once again for our ice cream social. (We made 176!)

I especially missed my mom. She and Iola always had great times talking and working together — comparing numbers of kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. Iola will be 103 in October and she is such a delight! She brings her own pan and her own left-handed paring knife, and she peels apples — for hours. Of course, I couldn’t do it without my friend Judy Conover and all my friends who have helped me through the years.

As we peeled apples and assembled pies, we reminisced about our very first ice cream social. It was 1976, our bicentennial year. Mike and I lived, as we still do, on a country road outside Cedarville in an old rambling farmhouse that we had bought just a couple of years before. We had four small children. Our oldest, Pat, was just eight-years-old.

Mike had decided to run for Greene County prosecutor. We talked about having a fundraiser. I wanted to make sure it was something you could bring your children to. Since it was the bicentennial year and everything was “old fashioned,” we decided that an old fashioned ice cream social would be perfect. The girls and I even wore bicentennial dresses!

We decided the perfect menu would be pie and ice cream. I talked the ladies in our Mother Goose Club — our local homemakers’ group with lots of young mothers and children — into helping me make pies after one of our meetings. (We made 20!) We recruited some of our friends to hand-crank ice cream. Our friend, Jeff, found a one-man-band and he played joyfully on the front porch. Some of our friends set up tables using construction horses and boards, and we borrowed folding chairs. Mike’s dad polished up his antique Ford Model T and gave rides to children around the yard. My mother helped me make flower arrangements. We established new friendships and traditions and we had a very good family fun time!

After that first year in 1976, we continued those traditions, adding more fun things for families over time. One year, Norman Carey from Springfield brought the 44th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Band, a Civil War re-enactment band, to play. The men wore Civil War uniforms and the women wore beautiful long dresses with hoop skirts. I remember they played very moving John Phillip Sousa marches. We also started serving our favorite ice cream — from Young’s Jersey Dairy. And we continued to gather in my kitchen to make pies each year.

Our own children led the games for the kids. I remember our son John “inventing” a book stacking contest. One year we had a pie throwing contest. Then it became a pie eating contest. It was the source of much fun and mess over the years. We still have three-legged races and sack races, using old DeWine Seeds sacks of course!

One year, our daughter, Becky, who worked at the Xenia Gazette and had a just written a story about the circus in town, talked the owner into bringing his elephant to the ice cream social. Mike and the kids were very excited and thought it would be great fun to have a baby elephant come. But the baby elephant would not get off the truck!

In 1990, when Mike ran with George Voinovich for governor/lieutenant governor, the goal was to have people come to the social from every county. Bus loads came from Cleveland and Akron. I remember the surprise and delight of city folks as they videoed our neighbor Bob Brenner’s baby pigs as they ran around in the field behind our fence!

Our friend and local hardware man, Fred Luttenberger, was in charge of the ice cream social through all these years. One time he decided it would be fun to have horse and wagons bring people up from the fields to the house. So he asked some of our friends with horses to help. Guy Climber, Woody Dehaven, and Gene Straley brought their beautiful and strong horses and wagons to bring people up to the house from the parking field. What a treat it was!

This year, our entertainment will be our neighbor Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. Joe has played for us many times before, and he frequently plays his bluegrass music at the Grand Ole Opry. Our Firehouse Friends will kick off the entertainment with the National Anthem.

We still sit under the shade trees. The old ones are gone, but the new ones we planted have matured to give good shade. As you read this, my pies are in my oven. So come enjoy the popcorn and lemonade, the pie and ice cream, and visit with us and folks from around the county and around the state. Come enjoy our traditions as we celebrate good family politics in our last campaign.

As always, everyone is welcome. We look forward to seeing old friends and new!

By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

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