In the freshman dining halls at Harvard University, there is always ice cream available for dessert. Supposedly, this is because the mother of a student named Harry Elkins Widener endowed the school with an ice cream fund following his death in the Titanic disaster, because ice cream was her sons favorite food.
The ice cream fund has never been confirmed, but it lives on through generations of Harvard undergraduates. Joseph heard this legend in his freshman year at Harvard. Despite total lack of evidence, (even evidence to the contrary) the story persists. Students keep up the story, perhaps, because it reinforces a sense of elite identity. To have something as indulgent as an “ice cream endowment” to attribute to the identity of being a Harvard undergraduate.