Shared Stories: Creamistry

Like most children, Kay Halsey always enjoyed ice cream.  An ice cream outing with her great-granddaughter prompted Kay’s memories of making ice cream by hand.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns


By Kay Halsey

“I scream, You scream, We all scream for ice scream.”  Even today, children recognize this cheer.

In the 1920’s all children had penny banks to save gift money.  Any other money children were given was designated for streetcar fare between school and home. 

It was two miles from my junior high school to home.  I decided I would walk home and save my money to go through the shopping area to buy a “goodie,” an ice cream cone or a pastry, with my dime.

Drug stores had small tables and chairs opposite the counter where there were many displays of different flavored ice cream. A cone cost ten cents. The salesman would put a scoop or two in the crispy cake cone and hand it to you. Then you could sit down, lick the cream, and savor the cool, sweet cream.

Picnics were other times you could look forward to large canisters of homemade ice cream.  My mother made a custard with whole milk, eggs, vanilla, and sugar and poured it into a cylinder in a churn loaded with cracked ice and rock salt. A long-stemmed paddle would be pumped up and down in the custard until it froze.  Sometimes several people shared in the half-hour job.

My memory of ice cream in the 1920’s was sparked when my daughter-in-law brought her eight-year-old granddaughter to have lunch with me. At lunch she didn’t eat anything.  We asked her what she would like.  She said, “Ice cream!”

On the car’s GPS system we found a store in Cerritos called “Creamistry.”  Each order was made by selecting whatever combination of flavors was on the menu board.

An employee would mix the ingredients in a pitcher, stir with a paddle, and apply a blast of nitrogen gas until it was frozen solid.  It was then put in whatever cone you selected and handed to you.  We took our cones outside to eat on the patio.

We enjoyed talking and licking our cones until the ice cream was all gone. It was a wonderful adventure! My great-granddaughter and I thanked my daughter-in-law for the treat, and then came a surprise.  She shared with us that the bill was $28.00 for the three cones! How times have changed!

We’d like to offer a special congratulations to Kay, who celebrated her 97th birthday last week. She is an active member of the memoirs class and a contributor to this column. Kay has shared memories of growing up in Georgia in the 1920’s and her life in Norwalk as a wife and mother.  Many in Downey know Kay from her years of golfing and tennis. She is a role model for us all. Happy 97th birthday, Kay!