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Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Fourth of July: A Yearn to Churn

Whatever happened to the family traditions, those events that stand out in the memories of children of all ages? Why not build some for yourself and your family.

One of my best Fourth of July memories (and not just the Fourth of July, but summer in general) didn’t even involve fireworks. It involved ice cream … handcranked ice cream, to be specific.

Grandma, Mom and my aunt would mix the ingredients for fantastic vanilla ice cream with just a hint of lemon. Dad and my uncle would get the churn ready. The soon-to-be-made ice cream was poured into the stainless steel inside container, the dasher was set into it, then the top was carefully set down over the container and dasher. After that, Dad and my uncle chipped ice and packed it into the churn, freely mixing in some rock salt as they filled the wooden-bucket part of the churn with ice. They’d pack it to the top, then put the crank on the top of the churn, connecting it to the top of the dasher.

And that’s where I came in. Dad would take a piece of an old blanket and lay it over the ice-packet churn. I sat on top of that folded over blanket to hold the churn in place while the men took turns cranking the ice cream. To this kid it seemed they cranked for hours. They didn’t crank it for hours, but they did crank it long enough for my rear end to get numb as the cold and wet from the melting ice worked its way onto me.

The best part of all this work, of course, was the magical “unveiling” of the finished ice cream. They’d carefully remove the crank, then pull top off the container, and remove the dasher, now covered with lemon-vanilla ice cream. The kids, my sister, my cousins and me, got to take turns licking that dasher.

That still has to be the best way to enjoy homemade ice cream. Pretty awesome stuff!

But the memories are better still.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July.


James D. Sutton, Psychologist  

June 28, 2008 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Until Joy Comes Back”

A few years back I was a consulting psychologist to a large childrens’ home in south Texas. One of the caseworkers, Joy, had to go up to the school and bring a girl home because of a behavioral episode at school. (This happened often as these youngsters had been displaced from their homes of origin for various reasons. Many of them were still pretty upset about it.)

Joy, one of the caseworkers, and the staff made it a point that any youngster brought home while school was going on was not going to have a better time at home. She put the girl to work raking and sweeping leaves out in the front of the administration building.

I made a trip up to the admin office and spoke briefly to the girl as I was going inside. She told me Joy had given her that job to do. I returned to the office a couple of hours later, and the girl was still out front, raking and sweeping.

“How long are you supposed to do this?” I asked her, pointing to the good-sized pile of leaves she had raked. 

“UNTIL JOY COMES BACK,” she responded. 

Wow, think of what you could do with that response. In this case she was talking about her caseworker, but the same “until Joy comes back” could be the easiest remedy for the sort of thing that happens with a youngster or an adult who falls into a kind of funk that wants to paralyze them.

Activity helps. By the time we break out of doing nothing and get active in some way, however small, we feel better.

When we decide to DO something, joy might not come rushing back, but perhaps it could be coaxed into taking a “U”-turn.


James Sutton, Psychologist


June 9, 2008 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, family, Inspirational, Parents | , , , , , | 1 Comment