For a decade of my childhood – from age 4 to 14 – my parents lived in a Craftsman-style bungalow on our city’s wide Main Street.
It was a largely residential area filled with young families. My mother and the neighbor women exchanged recipes, gossiped over coffee, and packed picnic baskets and diaper bags to spend afternoons at the beach.
Our yard, the largest in the neighborhood and the most centrally located was a natural gathering place. We had a large swing set erected by Grandpa Harry, a good-sized wading pool, and a sandbox with a sunroof. There were lilac bushes to hide in and porches to hide under when the sun was too relentless.
And there was the dairy, just across Mrs. Anderson’s yard and 7th Street. For a nickel, you could get a single-dip cone; for eight cents you could buy a pint of orange drink.
The clanging of milk cans at delivery time woke us up in the morning. At night, we ran to the dairy to get a pistachio or chocolate cone before closing time. The dairy and the German family who ran it were mainstays in our little neighborhood.
In those days, a large and long Independence Day parade marched past our house and family and friends from all over town gathered on our porch and lawn. The backyard was deserted for the front. Ice cream cones or orange drink sustained us while we waited for the marching bands, horses and floats.
Later, after the fireworks, my father always demanded a banana split. Luckily, the dairy was open late that day and he’d send us over for a pint of this and a half-gallon of this and a gallon of that. We'd all indulge, and go to bed with sated stomachs.
(My husband, whose parents also served banana splits this time of year, believes the banana split-fireworks connection to be “a generational thing.”)
I always crave a banana split after summer fireworks (force of habit) but I rarely indulge.
This year, nothing – not even the thought of Evil Fat Content – could stop me. I could not wait until the pyrotechnics. On a vitamin run to Walgreen’s, I spied a small carton of house ice cream - "Banana Split" it was called - with banana flavor and bits of cherries and chocolate. The price was right and I did it. I bought it and fixed us a very small banana split.
I don’t feel the least bit guilty. It’s probably been 10 years since I had one.
What about you? Do you fix banana splits (or even crave them) this time of year? What other foods must you have during summer holidays?