Dixie Cups

Beverly C. Lucey

In New England in the 1950s, the Hoods brand of ice cream and milk products were everywhere. If our parents showed up for Open House, and our Third Grade won in the best attendance category, Miss Butler would buy us all “Hoodsies.” These were ice cream cups, half vanilla and half chocolate. They came with a wide wooden stick a few inches long--about half a tongue depressor, I would say.

It was a great day at Samuel Brown School, if we had talked our parents into cramming themselves into small desks that were screwed into the wooden linseed oiled floors.

After a day's work at the leather factory, most parents wanted a beer and a ball game. If we could beg and plead, "But Ma! Teacher said it's important. And we get ice cream," our parents would sigh and agree to go look at our crummy artwork and arithmetic folders. We were fierce third graders and we often won.

We loved winning, specially, since the fourth and fifth graders would look at us with new respect. And longing--or our ice cream treats.

The inside lids on our Hoodsies were blank, but we didn’t know what we were missing. Frankly, we didn’t care. After all, ice cream and school were not usually uttered in the same sentence. Only Miss Butler sprang for the Hoodsies. The Fourth Graders got ribbons and the Fifth Graders got a free pencil.

Every Fourth of July, the City of Boston would hand out Hoodsies at playgrounds in the area. Free. But only one per kid.

Elsewhere, Dixie Cups ruled.

In the 1950s, the Dixie company started putting pictures of baseball players on the inside of their lids. For years they had been using movie stars. During the 40s they used patriotic pictures, but postwar? Baseball and TV took up a lot of time and featured lighthearted relief about peace. Kids weren’t too aware of the Cold War, so they collected Dixie Cup lids.

In fact, if you have a mint condition Dixie Cup lid from 1952, it might be worth a hundred dollars. Sport figures and Lucille Ball, from one of the first sitcoms "I Love Lucy" were prized

Some of you people might be distracted by the name, Dixie Cups. A tune plays in the background. “Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.” You are off by a decade. The two sisters and a cousin from New Orleans did not release their international hit on Red Bird Records until 1964. “Going to the Chapel” is on the list of 100 top wedding songs of all time.

Collectors must have been disappointed when the concept of pictures on lids died in 1954. Just like people fondly remember Burma-Shave billboards that dotted the land from 1925 to 1963, there are folks who treasure the memory of the inside flap of an ice cream cup. As for me? I just wanted the ice cream.

Lucey is a freelance non-fiction writer. She has essays in Are We Teaching Yet? (Heinneman) A Cup of Comfort for Teachers, and Rocking Chair Reader, among other anthologies. Her articles have appeared in Henry Magazine (GA) Sassee Magazine (NC) , Dog and Kennel, and she has been a guest columnist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution OpEd section.

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