The Best of Andy Rooney

I sometimes think vacations are harder to take than going to work. When you go to work, you know what you have to do, but you go on vacation to have fun and take a break from your everyday life. Good times are more apt to come unexpectedly rather than by design.

I explain this to you because I've just come back from annual vacation in upstate New York. I felt a little guilty going away this year because our country is in such a sorry state. Then, I thought, it will be good for the local economy to spend money enjoying myself.

So, off I went in July to my summer cottage on the lake. We drink the water from the lake, make coffee from the lake water, swim in it and take our boat three miles across it to a good restaurant at a country club where we are members. I'm not going to tell you the name of the lake because I'd just as soon no one else went there. It's a great lake but not one of the Great Lakes.

The tradition of going to the lake on vacation started when I was young. My parents took me and my sister to the lake almost every summer until I went off to college.

I remember a man named George who came to our cottage every other day to deliver a 25-pound block of ice. He put it in the refrigerator, at that time more accurately called the "ice box." Companies that made "ice boxes" went out of business, but our ice box lasted for decades and still evokes happy memories.

George stammered badly and my sister and I were mindful to be extra kind to him.

On a hot day, I'd often take the ice pick and hack off a chunk from the block to put in my mouth.

Four friends, two boys and two girls, hung out together all summer and we'd often make ice cream after dinner. To placate our parents, we'd offer them some. We often argued about what kind to make. Vanilla was easiest, chocolate was hardest. We all liked strawberry and Mr. Webster sold us a quart box of berries for 25 cents. We'd grind up a whole box of berries with a cup and a half of sugar and a quart of cream, and pack it in the ice cream maker.

The milk was delivered to our house. The cream always came to the top. We'd take the cream from the top of several bottles for the ice cream, then fill up the bottles with regular milk. I hope my parents didn't notice.

I don't think many people make ice cream from scratch anymore and I don't know why. It's good and it's so much fun to do.

Memories of the lake, all the good times we had and the great people we knew are etched in my brain forever. I'm already looking forward to next summer at the cottage. I look forward to not seeing you there.

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