Linda Ballard

Linda Ballard

THEY ARE KNOWN in Texas and surrounding states for home-made ice cream. Only their home- made is actually cranked from the use of a John Deere engine and their bucket is of a 10-gallon size compared to the old-fashioned 1-gallon ice cream freezers still found in the heat of the summer on the porches of southern homes.

It is a business that started as a fascination in a church parking lot, city events and small festivals. Now, for Mike Wheeler, his son Shannon and family the sound of that John Deere motor means someplace to be at all times. And they are now equipped with three freezers on trailers and most likely they are heading to a once a month spot called Canton Trade Days.

Mike said, “It is not just about ice cream. It is about the faces of people when they realize that freezer is being turned by a conveyor belt- type pulley and ran by a tractor motor. It is also about the quality of the product which is more important than anything else. It has been a learning experience and we are always trying to make it better.”

 “It’s little things that we watch that makes it better like using the right amount of salt for proper freezing. But, when the freezing of the ingredients is done, we pour it in large 5-gallon buckets and put it in a freezer to set up hard enough to manage before selling it to the people. That way, people are purchasing something that is not sloppy to eat.”

 A variety of flavors are now being offered and even a yogurt can now be made with his machines.

If ice cream doesn’t grab your interest, perhaps his corn meal will as the family also owns a gristmill. The proverb “all is grist for the mill,” means everything can be made useful or be a source of profit. A gristmill grinds cereal grain into flour and corn into cornmeal. It esis the cornmeal that struck Mike’s fancy and it was again at Canton that the idea of owning one crossed his mind.

“Over the time I went to Canton, there was only one man who had a gristmill and sold cornmeal,” he said. “The man died and his wife and children tried to take it over and couldn’t make it. She ended up selling the gristmill before I knew about it. People automatically assumed since I could make ice cream, I could also make the meal and had them asking me for some on return trips. Several months went by and I had a man from Timpson come up to me while at the Trade Days and for some reason our conversation went to the gristmill. He told me he had one that he knew nothing about and gave it to me. It was a 1917 Williams Cornmeal Grinder. It looked pretty good and I built a trailer for it, but needed a motor. So, eight or nine months rocked along and I was told about a 1922 – 7 horsepower universal motor available in Little Rock, Arkansas. I also learned only two are left in the United States. So, off I went to check it out. I pulled it up on a wench and started putting things together. It works great.”

Mike can now mill one hundred fifty pounds of corn in one hour and sells it in 2 lb. bags. He loves it for frying fish even though some of his fishing buddies like it for cornbread. And when you buy it straight from this miller you know it is really a quality organic product. So, if ice cream is not on your diet, check out the cornmeal. As for me, I can’t wait to see what the next Simpson project will be.  

IT turned out to be quite an event at the home of Janice Cameron, who recently scheduled a taco party for the Lean In and Lift Up Circle of Friends. Everyone added to the meal and seemingly everyone also thought dessert was more important, but, this group of ladies met to have a good time and that they did. Wanda Billings was made head of the entertainment with Cindy Gilmore stepping in to make sure everyone got their fair share of some kind of a game some-what like charades but without the charades. Birthday wishes were given to Cindy, Janice and Elizabeth. A round table discussion of new things happening with each other led you to believe they had not seen each other in years. Those in attendance included were Robyn Hedrick, Wanda Billings, Jeanie Thompson, Kelly Watson, Linda Ballard, Elizabeth Tullar, Janice Cameron, Gayle Mitchell, Cynthia Beck and Cindy Gilmore.

TO HONOR the Texas 4-H, on display in the Showcase at the London Museum are medals, plaques, vintage photographs of 4-H breeders and their winning livestock and memorabilia from the personal collection of Liz Buckner, home economics agent for the Rusk County 4-H. Now in her 21st year with 4-H, Buckner salutes the youth program dedicated to bettering one’s Head, Heart, Hands and Health. She was helped in setting up the display by 4-Hers Bailea Reeves of Leverett’s Chapel School and Hannah Parrott, who is home schooled. The museum is in New London on Highway 42 and across from West Rusk High School. As before, there is no charge to see the display.

 THE Overton/New London Chamber of Commerce voted to add Elsie Hollis to the Chamber Board. Now retired, Ms. Hollis has previously managed a Church’s Fried Chicken and a Dairy Queen; a Circle K convenience store and her own antique business called Joe Nana’s. After her election to the Chamber, she promised to be “a loud voice for the Chamber.”

May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. We may be reached at 903-984-2593 or chitchatlinda@aol.com.

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