I’ve been having this real urge to make pies this week, and then it dawned on me — this is the week our Ice Cream Social should be — but for COVID-19!
We’ve had the Ice Cream Social at our home the week after Father’s Day for years. We actually had our first one in 1976. Mike was running for Greene County prosecutor. We had four little children. It was the bicentennial year and we lived in an old house in the country with a big yard. I wanted to have a small fundraiser that you could take your children to. The idea of an old-fashioned ice cream social seemed perfect to me!
So, we talked all our friends into helping. Our friend, Fred Luttenberger, who owned Cedarville Hardware, headed it up. My friends Judy Conover and Elaine Straley and others helped me make the pies, and we hand-cranked ice cream. We had more than 250 people that year on a beautiful summer afternoon. Mike’s dad gave rides in our old 1925 Model T Ford. I remember a one-man band playing on the front porch, and lots of games for the children organized by our own kids. It was a great time. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we would be doing this every year for more than 40 years! Some years we had horse drawn wagons to bring our guests from the field. The 44th Ohio Voluntary Infantry Band from Springfield, all dressed in Civil war uniforms and beautiful hoop skirts, played John Philip Sousa music and marches.
After the first couple of years we decided Young’s Jersey Dairy ice cream was a really great alternative to trying to make our own ice cream. My friends and I have continued to make all the pies; I think we made 204 pies for our social in 2018. All were two-crust fruit pies, many made with fruit from our own trees. About a dozen friends would gather in my kitchen about a week before the social and make pies all day long — including peeling the apples and peaches, sometimes pitting cherries, slicing rhubarb and making homemade crust. We would freeze them, and then I would bake them all on the day before the social — nine at a time in my convection oven. Making the pies together was always a very fun day with lots of conversation. Last year, my 93-year-old mother, and my sister-in-law’s 100-year-old mother, Iola Creamer, had the best time of all!
The year I really remember was 1990. That was the year that Mike ran as lieutenant governor with George Voinovich for governor. Someone had the idea we needed people from every county to attend, and we had buses of people from Akron and Cleveland. I think there were about 5,000 people that attended that year. We ran out of pies, but we always had plenty of ice cream. But what I remember most was our neighbor’s new little pigs behind our fence. Many of the people from Cleveland said they had never been on a farm and they were fascinated by the baby pigs!
Over the years our entertainment has changed. We still have strolling quartets and other singers like wonderful Sharon Hardman. We have sack races and three-legged races for the kids. We have clowns and balloons and games for the kids, and sometimes we have a magic show, or jugglers. One year our daughter Becky organized for a baby elephant from a traveling circus to attend, but he wouldn’t get off the truck! This year our favorite bluegrass band, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, was to entertain once more. We hope they’ll come back next year.
This year, I think we will just meet some of our kids at Young’s and enjoy an ice cream cone in the sun. I’ll make a couple of pies for the Fourth of July, and decorate them with some pastry stars. If we all do what we need to do, this virus will be under control and next year will be a great year!
I’m sharing with you my recipe for Black Raspberry Pie. The raspberries are almost ready to pick!
Black Raspberry Pie
pastry for 2-crust pie
4 cups black raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons butter
Line 9 inch pie plate with pastry. Fill with raspberries. Mix sugar and flour and sprinkle over berries. Dot with butter. Adjust top crust. Make slit in top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.