Illness – Promises of Ice Cream by (1 Story)

Prompted By Illness

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If I think long and hard enough, I can still summon up the feeling of the rubber mask sitting around my mouth and nose, and the odor of the cool ether hitting the back of my throat as I was being put to sleep for my surgery.  That was back in the 1950’s when tonsillectomies were the norm in the little town where I grew up in Vermont.

... the odor of the cool ether hitting the back of my throat

I was promised that I could have as much ice cream as I wanted after I got out of surgery.  I have no recollection of the ice cream, but I do remember a little boy across the hall from my room who was good at sharing.  He had a “View-Master”!  It was a binocular looking contraption, which when you peered through the eye sockets, you could see pictures of Disney animals or cartoons.  Just by clicking the button, it automatically forwarded the image to the next slide.  The images were in full color and had a 3D effect to them.  (Our family still had black and white television, so these little slides were quite amazing!)

I don’t recall how I made my way out of my bed and into the little boy’s room across the hall, but my memory is marked by hearing my mother call for me. She’d come in to see me on the day after surgery and I was not in my bed… not even in my room.  It was her calling that I remember the most, and her surprise when she found me with the little boy across the hall.

As I mentioned, I don’t recall receiving the ice cream I was promised.  I most likely did get some as we were a big ice cream-eating family (“creemies” as they are still called in those parts), but what I did want instead was a View-Master!

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Tags: View-Master, viewmaster, ether, ice cream
Characterizations: right on!


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I was one of the few kids who did NOT have a tonsillectomy in those days, but my brother did. That caused our family to get a second “portable” TV for upstairs – it was in his room while he was in bed, though usually in my parents’ room, and could be wheeled into my bedroom if I was home sick, so that was a really big deal. I remember watching American Bandstand with my brother while he recuperated.

  2. Susan says:

    Aaah, the View Master! I loved the click-click-click as we progressed through the pictures on a disk. I still have my tonsils, but I remember other kids being lulled into the surgery with the promise of unlimited ice cream as a post-procedure treat.

  3. muzziesgirl says:

    I didn’t have a tonsillectomy when I was a kid. I remember being almost jealous of the kids who did. The hospital held a sense of adventure for me. My sister had a Tonsillectomy. All my jealousy went out the window when something went wrong and she had to have a tracheostomy to assist in her breathing. That was scary and cured me of my fascination with the hospital.

    I have many happy memories of our View Master. Simple fun in a simpler time.

    Nice writing. Thanks for your contribution!

  4. Lou Moffett says:

    Ah yes, the smell of ether and the promise of ice cream. As the doctor put on the mask he told me it was what pilots wore when flying. The next thing I knew I woke up to find my mother in the room. The ice cream would come soon.

  5. Suzy says:

    Tonsillectomies and ice cream bring back such strong memories to me. As do View-Masters. Now I’m thinking of writing about my own tonsillectory, although I had a different story planned. Thanks for sharing yours, and welcome to Retrospect!

  6. John Zussman says:

    I love the sense memories in this story, and the childhood fascination (which apparently we all shared!) with that simple stereoscopic device that showed us 3D images way before HDTV or VR.

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