For What It’s Worth

Ice cream and school tales

My neighbor Fred has helped with mowing my lawn while my activities have been restricted since my heart surgery, and we have worked together in the past in trimming trees, rescuing a squirrel from the French drain at the northeast corner of my house, laughed together about his capture of a skunk in a trap set for the armadillo digging holes in both our yards, and shared other projects/adventures.

A couple of moons ago I promised him that we would be making some homemade ice cream and he would be invited to share it as a small token of my appreciation for his many times of lending assistance. So, Tuesday night the debt was paid.

I grilled some burgers (not violating the burn ban), and Carol made some strawberry ice cream. She also prepared all the “fixin’s” for the burgers, baked some beans, and made some slaw. We invited Fred and his wife, Shelley, to join us for the burgers and ice cream supper along with Carol’s brother, Ken Helt, and his wife, Nelda. They have known Fred and his wife for years. Shelley still works with the city school system and Nelda and Fred are both retired from the school system. Nelda was a teacher for 30 years and Fred was a counselor.

I sat at the table and watched burgers, beans, and slaw disappear, as well as a couple of hot Italian sausage links I had grilled in case anyone might be interested. (Side note to my heart surgeon, cardiologist and nutritionist: I did not consume one of the hot sausage links, though I did allow myself one bite to refresh my memory on what I was passing up in the name of heart health.) Following the burgers, large bowls of ice cream were consumed accompanied by an ice cream headache or two.

More than that, though, I got to listen in as four long-time friends shared memories from the past and retold war stories about their days as educators. Some truly funny stories were told. To protect both the guilty and the innocent, I won’t repeat them. So, you’ll just have to take my word for how funny some of the remembrances were.

That said, I can’t resist the urge to retell one of the stories about the antics of one of the students at the high school. Honestly, I don’t remember the student’s name. I didn’t catch it when the story was told. Fred said he arrived a little early at school one morning and noticed the smell of coffee as he walked down the hall. Curious as to where coffee could be brewing and who would be brewing it at that hour of the morning, he began following the aroma and ended up at a student locker. The smell was strong and a wisp of steam was coming out of the locker. Using a master key, he unlocked the locker, opened it, and there was a Mr. Coffee on the locker shelf with fresh coffee brewing. Checking further, he discovered that the electrical wire from the coffee maker fed up through a small hole in the top of the locker, up the wall and into the ceiling where the student had spliced into an electrical wire. The coffee pot timer had been set so that when the student arrived he would have a hot cup of coffee awaiting him. As you might suppose, that little coffee operation was soon shut down.

The student had to know he would be caught, probably sooner rather than later. Still, I think it was an ingenious effort. Made me think of school pranks I have known of or heard of. One of the best ever was one I heard about. I assume it to be true, though it could be apocryphal.  Some boys brought three goats to school, each with a number painted on its side. The numbers were 1, 2 and 4. They turned the goats loose in the hallway and you can imagine the reaction. School officials captured the goats and then launched an effort to find the missing goat, No. 3. Eventually, they discovered that goat No. 3 did not exist, but think of the fun some students were having until everyone realized there were only three goats.

Confession: I would love to have thought up either of these pranks. The truth, though, is that I would never have had the courage to implement either if I had thought of it.

Those burgers and that big bowl of homemade ice cream that Fred loves so much are inadequate payment for his neighborly deeds and the many times he responds to my requests for help, but they did prompt a delightful evening.

Invite your neighbor over for homemade ice cream. You might be surprised at the fun you have.

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One Response to For What It’s Worth

  1. Judi says:

    This made me think of times in my life when a casual get together such as a simple meal with friends made a memorable fun time. I can certainly relate to your thoughts of the practicle jokes Harry. IF I could come up with something so clever I doubt that I could find the nerve to carry through. Great article!

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