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An Invitation to Westlake Porter Public Library’s Ice Cream Social

A visit to Westlake Porter Public Library on July 23 finds hometown tradition thriving. The town’s Ice Cream Social has been a library event since 1882 when a group of local young people created the Dover Literary Society.
The Society’s Constitution stated the following: “Wishing to form an effective organization for the purpose of mutual help and improvement and as one of the means to this end to establish and sustain a Library.” In 1884 town-builder Leonard Porter bequeathed the sum of $1000 to establish a library, and what had been a wish became a reality.
The Dover Literary Society planned a variety of readings and concerts since its conception, soliciting talented performers from as far away as Oberlin, Ohio. Debates were planned well in advance and included controversial topics of the time: Does poverty or riches develop the character best? Is prohibition more effective than license against the evils of intemperance? Which was the greater president, Washington or Lincoln? Much controversy surrounded the influence of fiction and its effects upon intellectual dissipation. Should women have the right to vote? Ought there be compulsory education in the United States? Which is the greater crime, to lie or to steal?
Regardless the popularity of such entertainments, the Society’s most notable event was the Ice Cream Social. There was no debating. Nothing beat the taste of ice cream. Eaten slowly, it melted sweetness on the tongue. Hand-cranked cream supplied those first functions. Later the electric freezer surpassed original methods.
July 23, 2007 marks 125 years since the Dover Literary Society sponsored the town’s first Ice Cream Social. Whether hand-crank or freezer made, the delicious confection is still a hit, bringing smiles to the library patrons in the Westlake community. The library is still a hit, too, a community center that has stood the test of time.


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