Sepia Saturday – Ice Cream for What Ails You

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

I have spent a lot of time this week working on a project I started several (ahem) years ago. I have a photo album my Grandmother Abbie made and I’ve been reconstructing it, scanning all the photos, and sharing it as a facebook album with family members. One of the photos in Abbie’s photo album is this shot of her husband, Charles Smith, buying ice cream.

It was taken in 1953, but I don’t have a location. Somewhere in Iowa, I would guess. My grandfather was not a thin man and we might suppose he ate his share of ice cream over the years. He and my grandmother ran a gas station, cafe, grocery – a full service truck stop, in southeastern Iowa. I’ve written about them and their home/business a couple of times. This post provides the most background: Charles’ and Abbie’s Place.

I had intended to continue the story of Jesse J. Bryan today, as part of my series on epidemics and pandemics, but I’m going to go a little sideways with his story and link ice cream with things I’ve stumbled upon while researching WWI and Jesse Bryan. I have mostly searched newspapers in the Atlanta area, because Camp Gordon was located outside Atlanta and Jesse received military training there in late summer 1918.

In May, a local drug store asked patrons to order ice cream rather than ice cream sodas to conserve sugar for canning.

7 May 1918
The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA

One of the things I have learned recently is that Americans were asked, not only to cut consumption of certain foods, but also to eliminate between meal snacks and to eat only three meals a day. You wouldn’t want to be an unpatriotic “food slacker!”

6 June 1918
The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA

This did not deter the ladies of the Baptist Church, however.

15 June 1918
The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Gt

On the other hand, eating ice cream might be more patriotic that eating meat or wheat.

26 July 1918
Thomasville Daily Times Enterprise, Thomasville, GA

An article in The Atlantic, How Ice Cream Helped America at War, offers this bit of ice cream history:

“An editorial in the May 1918 issue of The Ice Cream Review, a monthly trade magazine, spooned out sharp criticism for the scant availability of ice cream overseas: “If English medical men knew what ours do every hospital would keep ice cream on hand for patients.” It cried for Washington to intervene by subsidizing Allied ice-cream factories throughout Europe:

In this country every medical hospital uses ice cream as a food and doctors would not know how to do without it. But what of our wounded and sick boys in France? Are they to lie in bed wishing for a dish of good old American ice cream? They are up to the present, for ice cream and ices are taboo in France. It clearly is the duty of the Surgeon General or some other officer to demand that a supply be forthcoming.
The ice-cream industry didn’t have much lobbying power. Few Americans had refrigeration. Worse, Hoover had downplayed the scarcity of domestic sugar supplies, hoping to avoid a panic. There was hardly any sugar left for America, let alone for allies in France and England—and the promotion of ice cream as a wartime cure-all wasn’t helping. Instead of bolstering ice cream production, Hoover’s Food Administration ordered a reduction of manufacturing domestically—ruling in the summer of 1918 that “ice cream is no longer considered so essential as to justify the free use of sugar in its manufacture.'”

As reported from London, an American devised a recipe for mock ice cream which did not require milk products or sugar.

Wounded and ill soldiers on hospital ships apparently had access to the comfort and nutrition provided by ice cream.

Ice Cream Machine aboard U.S. Hospital Ship “Mercy”

Jesse Bryan was sent to Camp Gordon, Georgia, for his military training. Below is a letter sent from Camp Gordon by Lonnie T. Graham to his family on 17 Sep 1918 – just days after Jesse left Camp Gordon. The letter was accessed from the North Carolina Digital Collection.

I was only going to include the paragraph that references ice cream, but as I read the letter, I wondered if Lonnie had the flu. Influenza hit Camp Gordon mid September 1918. Jesse left on September 3, I think, just missing the outbreak. (I did my best to decipher his handwriting.)

… I am at the Base Hospital getting good attention and about well again.

I am writing in the bed where I intend to stay as long as they will allow me for they say if I get up I have to go to work. And will not will have to stay in here from 5 – 14 days. If any one gets out in 5 days I think I will be the one for I got in here Tuesday night & a square was placed before me Wednesday at dinner. I was so sick at my stomach that I didn’t want anything. But could not refuse such a nice piece of chicken and block Ice cream. The cream was strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. It wasn’t long before I lost everything. That were’t soup for supper and coffee for breakfast. I got sweet milk from night orderlies. Today at dinner I got another fine meal. I enjoyed the canned cherries more than anything else. Guess they will feed me from now on, as my fever has left me.
    I was better Sunday when I wrote. I washed dishes smartly Monday ____ To get some time _____ provided & there had to rub of wind____
    I learned to (beat) for I kept feeling worse all day. I didn’t report for duty Tuesday am and was (worked) quarters by the surgeon, and that pm. part of us were sent over here. I was glad to get to come for I needed medicine and rest.
    I received Friday’s letter Monday. That was the only mail I had got since I came here. I received Sunday’s letter Tuesday just before I came over, but did not have time to address others. Hester a Cle_son boy said he would hold all my mail, for if it was sent over here I might never get it, so guess I will have some Sunday piled up when I get out of here.
    Unless the time is extended we will be out from under quarantine Monday. It will probably be ______ ended longer.
    You will have to excuse my penmanship for I am writing on my pillow. I could get up, but prefer bedsores and cover to K. P. duty.
    We have some very nice nurses, and several _____ ??h are as good as they can be to wait on us. It is very different from what I was afraid it would be.
    There are about 35 or 40 in this ward & some few on the porch.
    I will write again Sunday. You need not be worry for I will have to stay here until entirely well. Closing now.

Lonnie just couldn’t resist that block of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate ice cream even though his stomach was upset. At least it is good to know that the base hospital had ice cream available for the sick soldiers, should they be able to stomach it.

When I was a little girl and had my tonsils removed, I felt very betrayed by the promises of ice cream when it was all over. It tasted like blood. Ice cream did not make it better!

My husband and I find ourselves frequently eating ice cream during the current pandemic. We seem to think it makes us feel better.

There is more information out there regarding the intersection of ice cream and war – especially during WWII, where some pilots devised a way to make ice cream on their fighter planes.

I will close with this photo, which bears some similarity to the prompt photo.

Sean Connery feigns shoving a vanilla ice cream cone in retired Lt. Col. Charles Russhon’s face during the production of “Thunderball”

There must be 32 flavors of ice cream available to those who visit Sepia Saturday . See how others have responded to the prompt photo.

Sepia Saturday – Carrying Bricks

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

I’ll start here.

Granted, it says blocks, not bricks, but let’s not be picky. I don’t know who Sherrely (?) is, but here she is carrying a cement block.

Next …

My grandfather unloading blocks from the back of a pickup truck.

I believe I have successfully matched the theme. I could stop here, but I’ll try to piece together a stack of photos from this time and place.

The photographs above were developed in September 1956. The “set” spans August 1956 – February 1957. The location is the junction of highways 63 and 149 in southeastern Iowa. The subject is the construction of a new and improved truck stop owned and operated by my grandparents, Charles and Abbie Smith. My grandmother did a fair job of documenting the event in photographs and I appreciate her effort. She left a few notes, but I wish there were more.

I’ve written about my grandparents’ truck stop and home a couple of times before, all responses to Sepia Saturday prompts, of course!
Charles’ and Abbie’s Place
One Moment Please
Signs of the Times

This is what the place looked like in 1950.

There had been some remodeling prior to 1956, but this project involved tearing down the old building and replacing it with a new one. They constructed the new building adjacent to the old one and continued to live and work in the old one as long as they could.

A photo dated August 17 shows what I suppose is the frame for the foundation.

And one dated August 19 shows me playing in sand that now filled the frame.

I spent lots of Saturdays with my dad(Jerry) and grandparents at the Hedrick Y, so I show up in several photos and can only speculate about how valuable my contributions were. There are a few other photos from August that depict life inside the truck stop.

My cousins and me drinking orange juice at the lunch counter.

And me, shining my grandmother’s shoes.

A little peek into the living quarters.

And my cousin nursing her “sick” mother. She did become a nurse, by the way.

Grandma Abbie wrote on the back of some photos, so from here on, I’ll use her words as captions when I can.

Sherely Hammond and
Ward Rhodes truck
load of sand

How did that tractor get in there? Did Great Uncle Norman come up with the plan?

Norman troubling

A makeshift ramp

Lewis Jacobs

Made it!

Another load of sand

I believe cement came next.

Loyd Burgas
hauling cement

This looks like my dad(Jerry) kneeling in front, my grandfather bending over, and possibly Sherely Hammond (identified in other photos) on the right. I don’t know who the man on the left is.

working with cement

One more photo from the “September” batch.

October found me hard at work.

too much work for such a small gal

My grandmother typed up a couple of notes about the progress in October.

Let’s see if I can match any photos to her notes.

Around Oct. 4th. “They finished the walls except above the windows.

Wall with windows and door frame

” Oct. 5th Charles fell from a platform on the north side of the bldg. Norman pulled nails all day.” There is no photograph of my grandfather having fallen from a platform, but there are a couple of pictures that look rather precarious. I don’t know which is the north side.

Someone on the roof. It could be my grandfather.

This doesn’t look very safe.

“Oct. 8th was the last of the blocks that was set.”  No photograph seems to depict the last block being set, but several show continued progress on the new building.

Wait. Maybe I set the last block?

“Lucy and Mary and I carried all the things from upstairs. Kathy Raye came out and asked what was wrong with the upstairs and I took her up to see.” I don’t find a photo of the upstairs or their belongings outside, except for the phone.

“From there on until the 10th they tore down on the old bldg.”

“The 10th they started on the new roof.”

“Norman still tearing on the old house. Kathy R. and Judy picked up nails. Charles, Gerald working on the new bldg.”

I have vague memories of hanging out during all of this. My only relatively clear memory is of picking up nails. I think I used some kind of magnet-on-a-stick tool. The nails went in the box.

“That night Hammonds came and we really moved out the old bldg. into the new.

Abbie’s notes continued on a second card.

I don’t know if this note comes before or after the previous one, but I’ll guess after – even though it seems like there were some windows in, but not the door. Looks like Uncle Norman just inside the doorway. The building on the left is my dad’s motorcycle business. It says “Indian Sales” on the front.

Hopefully they weren’t trying to sleep here with all that lumber to trip over – although I imagine it would deter thieves. And I’d like to acknowledge that it can be pretty chilly at night in Iowa in October.

I’m sure my grandparents needed to be frugal and reuse as much as possible. Some of those nails Norman pulled and I collected were probably reused. And this door, yet to be installed, is from the old building.

My birthday fell in the middle of October when all of this moving out and tearing down was happening, yet there are pictures of us celebrating in the house. Maybe we celebrated early?

These might be pictures of the house being torn down. Although some of them were printed in January, my grandmother wrote October 29 on the back.

It looks like Grandma didn’t take any more film to be developed until January and February. Things were finished by then on the outside

And the inside

Ethel or Lucy? (When I was little I thought it was funny that one type of gas was Ethyl.)

Taking a break.

This photo appeared in the Oskaloosa Daily Herald on 30 Jan 1957.

I called my Dad today to try to fill in some gaps, but he will be 91 in two days and just doesn’t remember the details any more. I did get a little background information from him though.

Charles and Abbie had been farming for years. Prior to moving to the Hedrick Y, they were farming in north central Iowa, near the town of Clarion. Tenant farming might be the best description of their situation. They rented the land and farmed it. When they sold their product, 50% of the value of the crop went to the landowner. My grandfather owned his farm equipment.

In 1946, my grandparents sold their farm equipment and took out a loan from a bank in Richland, Iowa to purchase the land and business at the Hedrick Y in southeastern Iowa. Not long after my Dad graduated from high school that year (he stayed in Clarion to finish out the school year), he rode his motorcycle to California to visit his grandmother. While he was away, he says there was a fire that destroyed the building. He doesn’t know anything else about it since he wasn’t there. Pictures show the 1956 building looked much like the original, but with some modifications. Perhaps the damage was not that extensive and they were able to remodel rather than rebuild after the fire.

Dad recognized the names my grandmother noted on the pictures – neighbors from nearby farms and the town of Fremont. The Hammond sisters, he said, stayed with my grandparents for a month when their parents went to California and they never forgot it. He assumes that is why they were around helping so much.

There are more pictures of the Hedrick Y and I have many fond memories of time spent there, but those are for another day as this has gone on nearly as long as a construction project.

Please visit other Sepia Saturday participants and see what they have built around the theme.