Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Black Cow or Root Beer Float?

I have two sisters and four brothers.  Our family lived in a two story bungalow with a kitchen meant for a family of 4.  So our "kitchen" was actually in the finished basement where there was room for a big kitchen table. 

A family with 7 kids in the 50's & 60's never knew what it was like to get a McDonald's burger and fries.  We never had Jay's potato chips on a regular basis.  Fritos were something my Dad had occasionally, later at night as he sat at the kitchen table upstairs while reading a book.  Most weeknights Dad would work late so he never joined us for dinner.  We weren't allowed to be on the phone until we got the call from Dad that he was on the way home. 

Sunday dinners were always at 2 p.m.  We had roast beef with gravy (no lumps), mashed potatoes (we would peel 10 lbs. each and every Sunday), early june peas, a salad (which consisted of iceberg lettuce and tomato wedges, nothing more), and Pillsbury crescent rolls.  The rest of the family used Imperial margarine, but my Dad refused to use margarine.  He would only eat butter.  And my brothers would pile the peas on top of the mashed potatoes, right before they poured on the gravy.  (Picture "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" potato scene).

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Most nights, we didn't have dessert.  The only fruit I remember was canned fruit (probably partially explains my dislike for fruit).  But once in a while we would have a treat that, to this day, puts a big smile on my face. 
We'd have a black cow.  One scoop of vanilla ice cream in a glass and root beer poured over it.  Plenty of foam at the top.  Lick off the foam and add more root beer.  Let it wait a little and when you finally eat the ice cream, it is slightly melted and just so creamy.  
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Now, this is not to be confused with a root beer float.  A root beer float was created in the opposite order.  You poured the root beer in the glass first, dropped the scoop of ice cream in and watched the foam rise.  May seem like an insignificant difference, but it truly was a different taste.
And a black cow should not be confused with a brown cow.  That was made with Pepsi instead of root beer.   At least that's how we knew the difference in the Midwest.  And that just didn't do it for taste. 

I always find it funny when you reflect back on growing up and it's the little things you remember. 

What are you remembering about those days gone by?  What still puts a smile on your face? 


Bill said...

Good memories. Mine include coney island hotdogs,harvesting cucumbers and tomatoes from our backyard garden which I was responsible for turning in the spring and watering all summer. Our treat was a Boston Cooler from DQ. Icecream and ginger ale. Best fresh fruit ever was ripe pears picked from a friends backyard tree. Detested the friday fishsticks...yuck.

Peggy K said...

Oh, Friday fish sticks!! I forgot about those! There was even a time when my Mom would cook halibut (usually dried it out), but that's when halibut was inexpensive. And who could forget the tomato soup (made with water) with the fish sticks. Wouldn't be able to stomach that today!

Laura said...

I love this post. Unfortunately, I never knew the difference between a Black Cow and a Root Beer float. I prefer the black cow. One of my not-so-fond memories is for a beef and mushroom soup caserole that was inexpensive to make, and that we all hated, but never had the heart to tell my mom. We all finally fessed up when we were adults, and my mom was absolutely SHOCKED that everyone hated the caserole.

Tracy said...

Ummm, I wasn't a fan of Black Cow or Root Beer floats. However, a treat that my grandmother would make was vanilla ice cream, a scoop of ovaltine, ice and she'd put it in a blender and mix it up. Then she would put it in a metal cup that kept it very cold and we'd drink it with a straw. It was very good...

Leanne said...

What a cool post, Peg! I'm right there with LT - I never knew the difference between a black cow and a root beer flot - but I root beer float, for sure! I love hearing your memories from life being part of a family with 7 kids - wow. Really great story. (I vote for Root Beer Floats for our next cellar gathering. What do you think???)

Anonymous said...

Wow, your Black Cow story is my story, only six kids! I remember Jay's chips, Friday fish sticks, veggies from the garden, lots of rhubarb and many, many casseroles, oh yeah, and porcupine balls (meatballs rolled in rice). In the summer us kids feasted on mullberries and on our elderly neighbors grapes, gooseberries and currants, with permission of course. Kids had good manners back then and you used them!! I lived in Bensenville, IL as a child before alot of it was demolished for the airport expansion. Mostly happy memories :)