One Cool Display for Antique Engine Shows

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Below: Larry Flickinger, adding an essential component to the ice cream freezer.
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Above: Sandra Flickinger and family friend Jim Gehringer, Leland, Ill., who restored her salesman’s sample ice cream freezer.Left: Larry and Sandra Flickinger’s vintage ice cream freezer, belted to an intermediate gear devised by Larry. Using what he calls “eighth grade math,” Larry computed the reduction for his ice cream operation. “I just like math,” he says modestly, “but I’m not a machinist.”
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Right: Ice cream scoops and a salesman’s sample ice cream freezer from the Flickinger collection. “In the old days, scoops were called ‘dippers,’” Sandra says.
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Left: The real McCoy: a De Laval cream separator on permanent display at the Old Threshers show. Decades ago, cream separators were used to separate cream from milk.Lower left: A model beautiful enough to make you forget about ice cream: This scale model cream separator was handcrafted by the late Edward Berry about 15 years ago. Displayed at last summer’s Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant by his son, David Berry, Clarence, Iowa, the piece is a legitimate work of art. “When my dad retired, he started building models,” David says. “This was a pretty early piece in his hobby. He just looked at a picture in the Sears catalog as a guide.”Right: Larry Flickinger’s P&O gas engine.

Set up an old gas engine at a show, and you’ll
get a few lookers. Get it running and belt it up to a pump or a
corn sheller, a few more folks stop by and take a gander. Use it to
make ice cream and give away free samples, and it’s “Katie, bar the
door!”

Larry and Sandra Flickinger can tell you all about it. For the
past two years, the couple has displayed a 1912 P&O gas engine
at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Several
times each day, Larry fires up the engine, which is belted to a
nearly 50-year-old freezer. As the mixture nears readiness, the
crowd of onlookers swells. By the time Sandra removes the lid from
the freezer can and begins to pull out the paddle, she holds the
crowd in the palm of her hand.

“You see little kids come running when we open the freezer,”
Sandra says. “The most fun are the older people. They just watch,
and reminisce … we hear lots of people’s memories about making ice
cream with their families. It just makes people happy.”

Making ice cream at engine shows is no particular stretch for
this couple who live, fittingly enough, at Sugar Grove, Ill. “I
grew up on a farm and we always had homemade ice cream,” Sandra
recalls. “My granddad hand-milked 36 Brown Swiss dairy cows, and I
can remember my mother making butter, and saving the cream for ice
cream.” Because homemade ice cream is a regular part of their
summer routine at home, it was only natural for the two to take
their show on the road.

It started with a new-in-the-box 1957 White Mountain ice cream
freezer Larry found at a flea market. Next came the matter of
converting gear ratios to his 1-1/2 hp P&O gas engine.
“Remember that eighth grade math, and you never think you’re going
to use it?” Larry asks. “Well, you do.

“It was just a matter of ratio,” he explains. “I just backed up
to the engine rpm. It’s either going to be 4-to-1 or 6-to-1, based
on a ratio. I knew what the ending rpm was for the hand-crank
freezer; it was about 40 rpm. The other ‘given’ was that the engine
is about 350 rpm, so I reduced from there. The first reduction is
4-to-1; the second is 2-1/2-to-1.”

Compared to that, making the ice cream itself was a snap.
“Sometimes we use a recipe that calls for 32 ounces of pop, and two
cans of sweetened condensed milk,” Sandra says. More often, she
turns to a pre-packaged Rival mix sold at Wal-Mart. Neither
requires eggs, eliminating safety concerns related to use of raw
eggs.

Looking to add yet another dimension to their road show, the
Flickingers began a related collection of ice cream paraphernalia.
“This spring, Larry decided to collect ice cream scoops,” Sandra
says. “So he went to the flea market and came home with three.
Well, you know, if you have three of something, you’ve started a
collection.”

It’s been an educational process. “Gilchrist was one of the
first to make scoops,” Sandra says, “and that was from about 1905
to 1930. There are some with Bakelite handles, and a lot of them
are brass underneath the nickel plate. The ones with wooden handles
are probably older. A lot of them were premiums; you got them free
when you bought something else. A lot of them have a number on
them, but that’s not a model number: It’s how many scoops it takes
to make a quart. Most are 12 to 20 (scoops per quart), but we have
a 40 that we use to fill sample cups.”

One of the real treasures in the Flickinger display is a White
Mountain salesman’s sample freezer. “It started everything,” Sandra
says with a smile. “In 1982, I went to a farm sale to buy a memento
from a family friend’s estate sale. I saw this White Mountain Jr.
salesman’s sample, and I bought it for $8. After the sale, my dad’s
best friend came up to me and asked ‘Are you the one who was
bidding against me?’

“Well,” she continues, “it turns out he collected salesman’s
samples. We’re talking about five generations of friendship between
his family and mine. So I said, ‘If you promise me that when you’re
dead and gone, I can have it back, okay: You can have it for your
collection.'”

Two years ago, after the death of her friend, the tiny freezer
was returned to her. “Ice cream and friendship,” she muses. “They
just go hand in hand.”

For more information e-mail Larry and Sandra Flickinger
at: laflick139@sbcglobal.net

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