Monday, May 25, 2009

We All Scream

The best part about being in band in high school (besides the flash and panache of the uniforms) was the one day we all got out of all classes and got to make ice cream out back of the school's kitchen.  The end product would be for our ice cream social that we held on the blacktop of the school. 

The original ingredients for the ice cream came from sources that would make the health department turn red. We all brought the cream in from our farms, neighbors, etc.  Everyone contributed sugar and fruit, bringing in various quantities in assorted containers.  We brought in ice cream freezers of every shape, size and condition.  There were massive sacks of rock salt and ice.  

A few parents helped out, but for the most part it was just the band kids mixing, dumping and churning.  Once in awhile one of the gargantuan lunch ladies who packed themselves into white uniforms would come out to scowl at us.  A few band members got to enter the normally-forbidden territory of the kitchen where overgrown silver mixers and stacks of obscenely large bowls were stacked up.  We stored the ice and finished ice cream in the gigantic freezer, always lingering there to stare at the rows of large, mysterious brown boxes from which our lunches were concocted.

I have such good memories of these days when we tore off the shackles of the regular schedule of classes and hung out together, a G-rated gang, in the back of the school, occasionally throwing ice at each other and imitating the lunch ladies when their backs were turned.  There was always the excitement of the rumor that someone had added liquor to at least one batch of ice cream.

In the afternoon we went home, cleaned up and then arrived back in the early evening to set up our chairs and music stands.  We got out the ice cream, arranged the tables and chairs and then gathered to play for the people of the town who came to the social.  We played hip tunes like the "Next to You" and "Cherish."  People clapped at the end of every song as though we were a polished concert orchestra instead of 23 high school kids struggling through these arrangements with too many woodwinds and not enough brass. 

I've frozen this moment in time, and like the ice cream we made, probably sweetened it just a bit too much, but this is the scene I keep in my mind:  The line of happy, talking moms dipping the ice cream, the fathers standing and talking, their hands in their pockets.  There are the old matrons of the town seated at the tables, clapping along with the songs.  Little kids run and chase each other, play on the swings and hit the tether ball while the music of the band rises up and catches a breeze that swirls to encircle everyone there. 

It was a time I was a part of it all, a place where, for the moment, I totally belonged.  

1 comment:

Suse said...

This is the best part of America right there. Great picture!