SOUTHWICK-Since Ruth Preston was 16, she has enjoyed making homemade ice cream.
“My parents bought a machine in 1955 and my mother and I learned how to make ice cream,” said Preston. “Whenever we had a gathering of friends and family we would dig out the machine and make vanilla ice cream.”
Vanilla ice cream remains one of Preston’s favorite flavors, and she will be among the Southwick Historical Society members making vanilla ice cream on July 11 from 2-4 p.m. when the public is welcome to attend a free ice cream social at the Southwick History Museum on College Highway. Preston serves as president of the organization.
“Society members will start hand cranking all of the ingredients at 1:30 p.m. but visitors will also have to hand crank until the ice cream is ready to enjoy,” said Preston. “We enjoy sharing the process of how to make ice cream with everyone, especially children.”
Preston noted that due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, everyone who hand cranks the ice cream equipment will be required to wear latex gloves.
The ice cream social is an annual event for the organization, and society members will provide a variety of toppings for the delectable treat, ranging from locally grown strawberries and chocolate sauce to cherries, nuts and whipped cream. Society members will be responsible for handling the distribution of the toppings to ensure safety guidelines are met.
“We don’t charge for the ice cream social but we do put out a donation bucket,” said Preston.
Preston noted that visitors will also be able to walk around the museum grounds and tour the Moore House.
“I’ve been participating in this ice cream social for years,” said Preston. “I love the hand cranking process of ensuring the right stiffness of the ice cream and I think it is a really neat process.”
Preston added she enjoys the ice cream making process because it is “more fun than going to the store and buying ice cream.”
“There is something special about making ice cream,” she said, adding, “taking all of the ingredients and making it into something else is very rewarding.”
On a related note, the museum will host a program on Aug. 8 at 2:30 p.m. titled “The Joseph Moore Story.” Lifelong resident David Hamberg, editor of the new book “Southwick Revisited,” will talk about the life of Joseph Moore, the first owner of the Moore House and a veteran of the American Revolution. His family lived in the home from 1751 through the 1840s.
The museum is open from 2-4 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays of each month through October. In addition to the Moore House, the Charles J. Gillett Cigar Factory is also on-site, the only remaining building of its type in the Connecticut River Valley which has been known for decades for the quality of its tobacco, according to the organization.
Society members accept any gifts of historical articles or monetary donations, and all donations are tax-deductible.