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An Ice Cream Menu of Memories

September 16, 2015

 

An Ice Cream Menu of Memories

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

As this summer of 2015 is drawing to a close, I am thinking of ice cream. I could think of “My Life, According to Ice Cream.” Oh, yes, I do love ice cream. While I like all types of ice cream, my preference is the soft-serve variety.

 

Some of my earliest recollections of ice cream revolve around the myriad of frozen treats that were neatly arranged in open boxes inside the deep freezer at my grandmother and uncle’s grocery store in Blanford, Indiana. As one entered the large store building on Highway #71 and took a few steps on the wooden floor, the one freezer in the general store was immediately to the right. At countertop level, one could push to the right the glass-top door and feel the cold environs of the “land of plenty of ice cream.” (The other side of this white and silver freezer was for other foods, such as frozen fish–not nearly as appealing to my taste buds as the ice cream treats.) Fudgsicles (trademark), ice cream sandwiches, ice cream drumsticks, Eskimo Pies, and orange push-ups were among the array of frozen treats. On a regular basis, I reached into the deep freezer and selected something special–most frequently ice cream made by Meadow Gold.

 

In addition to these ice cream memories at my maternal grandmother’s store, my Aunt Zita’s well-known Italian restaurant offered on her Binole’s Restaurant menu a wonderfully refreshing lime sherbet and the signature spumoni pie. How I did love that spumoni pie! The ice cream pie (nine-inch, I imagine) was made by Wright’s Ice Cream Company of nearby Cayuga, Indiana. (Although Wright’s Ice Cream Company, which was established in 1939, is still in business, the Hoosier company no longer makes the spumoni pies, but does still make spumoni ice cream.) Served at my Aunt Zita’s restaurant, the spumoni pie had a chocolate crust, atop which was a chocolate layer of ice cream. The middle layer of ice cream was cherry, and the top layer was pistachio ice cream on which was sprinkled chocolate crumbs. What a pretty and delicious dessert! My family and I have never known of a similar spumoni pie served anywhere else. (NOTE: If you have had a similar spumoni pie at another location, please add your comment to this Wordwalk blog post.)

 

On hot, summer nights, my dad and I would take the “Trail of the Lonesome Pines” (the rural, country roads, instead of the highways) to nearby Clinton (seven miles from our Blanford home) to have a curly ice cream treat from the Dairy Queen–our favorite ice cream place for many years. In those earlier years at the original location on North Main Street in Clinton, the Dairy Queen was only open during the fair weather months and had no indoor seating. In later years, when we took my paternal grandmother for a ride with us, she never wavered: she always ordered, in Italian, a “little” cone. In those days, a “little” cone still existed; today’s ice cream cones of the smaller size seem much too large. These were pre-blizzard years at the DQ. More than three decades ago, a new Dairy Queen with ample indoor seating was built near Clinton’s Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) Fountain, on the banks of the Wabash River. Yes, I have enjoyed more than a few caramel or strawberry sundaes, as well as a few “small” ice cream cones with a curl when visiting my home “ice-cream-land.”

 

Another great spot for ice cream when I was young was Blake’s on Ninth Street, in Clinton. Besides a pharmacy, excellent candy counter, and a variety of other sales items, Blake’s had a delightful ice cream counter, which was the tallest which I have ever experienced. Of course, the stools were high enough to match the counter. In addition to ice cream cones of the one- or two-dip variety, Blake’s made delicious ice cream sodas in the traditionally tall soda glasses. One of the best parts of my weekly piano lessons was that my mother afterward took me to Blake’s where I most frequently ordered a small Jack-and-Jill sundae, served in a small tulip-type sundae glass and made of Borden’s ice cream . (Do you remember Borden’s Elsie, the cow?) At one of the tables in Blake’s, Mother and I sat, talked, and ate ice cream sundaes of special note. In my kitchen cupboard, I still have four tulip-type sundae glasses which I purchased for around two dollars from Horney’s Variety Store, on Main Street in Clinton, around 1972; and I still use these sundae glasses.

 

For a number of summers in the 1950s and the 1960s, we vacationed at Lake Shafer, in Monticello, Indiana. While I looked forward to swimming at Indiana Beach and eating the varieties of salt water taffy, my favorite treat at Lake Shafer was–you guessed it–the splendid frozen custard in a cone or in a dish.

 

In 1968 or 1969, I went to a mall for only the second time in my life. At this mall in New Jersey, we went to one of the multi-flavors ice cream stores–my family’s first time to visit such an establishment. Since we were spending our summer vacation with relatives in New Jersey, of course, my cousin Lisa (then, age nine or ten) was with us at the ice cream store. After reading through all the typical and imaginative flavors, Lisa wanted to order vanilla! I may have ordered burgundy cherry.

 

Moving along in my ice cream chronology, I remember going to another one of these multi-flavor ice cream stores in a mall in Bloomington, Indiana, where my sister lived for seven years. When the young man behind the counter asked me what flavor I wanted, the choice was easy–licorice voodoo! I have always loved licorice and anise flavor. Well, I thought he was not going to dip the deliciously flavored ice cream for me. Although he thought the licorice ice cream was quite distasteful, he finally did dip into the ice cream; and I, as usual, thoroughly enjoyed my licorice voodoo ice cream cone.

 

Throughout my years of going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I enjoyed the frosty malt ice cream treat in a tall cup with a lid–especially on the sunnier and hotter days of May. Another fond ice cream remembrance from Indianapolis is the uniquely shaped ice cream bar from the Indiana State Fair. The elongated cube of creamy vanilla ice cream was coated with a hardened butterscotch topping.

 

Although we did not make homemade ice cream often, when we did, the special treat was truly savored. Additionally, each year that we went to the Covered Bridge Festival in October, we always saved room for the persimmon ice cream, “homemade” by the Boy Scouts and sold on the Parke County Courthouse square, in Rockville. When October comes, I always recall that wonderful ice cream.

 

During the 1980s, when my nephews were very young and we gathered together in Indiana, we took the boys to our family’s favorite ice cream shop in Paris–Illinois, not France. Bev’s Ice Cream not only had outstanding ice cream of many flavors, but also dipped the ice cream into homemade waffle cones, which gave a delightful aroma to the small shop.

 

Having lived in Milwaukee since 1991, I am a fan of Wisconsin’s frozen custard. I pass on the Cream City beer–just give me a Cream City frozen custard!

 

Oh, how we celebrate with ice cream! Ever since ice cream cakes were sold by Dairy Queen, my extended family has often chosen these specialties for birthdays and other occasions. During the Christmas season, I am always ready for peppermint candy ice cream and the gingerbread ice cream. With autumn just around the corner, bring on the pumpkin ice cream! Thus goes “My Life, According to Ice Cream.”

 

POST-SCRIPT: While the person who invented the ice cream social deserves scoops of praise, the ice cream social, according to my pleasant recollections, emphasized cake, pie, and socializing, as much as ice cream. Thus, perhaps, I will save the ice cream social for the topic of a future Wordwalk blog post.

 

Enjoy your favorite ice cream treat!

Alice and Zoe

 

September 16, 2015, Wednesday

 

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10 Comments
  1. Fran Rayce permalink

    Hi, Alice,

    Reading your post has made me long for a taste of spumoni form Wright’s Ice Cream! While I did have a taste of something at the Little Italy Festival that was called spumoni, it was not quite right! I even managed to pass on the taste for Wright’s spumoni to my daughter and dear Ferruccio would always make certain that he saved a half gallon of it when he knew she was coming to visit Clinton. Alas, they no longer carry that flavor at the IGA.

    Thanks for once again capturing the essence of some wonderful local places: Blake’s, (During my infrequent visits I always ordered a cherry sundae), the Dairy Queen, (and you are right, it was mainly for ice cream cones, not other fancy ice cream concoctions), and local stores with their small sliding door freezers. Telling on myself, I was always envious of my cousin, whose larger allowance meant he could buy an ice cream sandwich every day while I had to save up to indulge.

    Now I have developed a taste for gelato and love that grocery stores carry some very tasty varieties.

    Happy eating,
    Fran

    • Hi, Fran–The most recent time that I had Wright’s spumoni ice cream was when my sister and I visited with Mary and Ferruccio in Clinton, in 2013. The ice cream was delicious, and we had a nice visit. Thanks for your comment! Enjoy the gelato! Alice

  2. Hello Madam Ice Cream. Oh what fond recollections I have as a young boy, riding my bike one mile to our local seasonal ice cream shop. Dar’s Dairy Bar was pure heaven for me, and on those special occasions, I was allowed to order the Monster Shake, or the double header cone. My eyes were usually bigger than my belly, but that didn’t stop me. I would eat until I was floating on an ice cream cloud. Even to this day, a Blizzard from Dairy Queen made with chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cups and a squirt of hot fudge is my favorite among favorites. You took me back my dear, back to those wonderful, frozen memories of my youth. Thanks for that, and watch out for those brain freezes. grin dp

    • Deon–Thanks for sharing your ice cream memories from Maine. A forecast of ice cream clouds sounds good to me! Take care–Alice

  3. Before sitting down to write a reply to your delicious post, Alice, I had to have a dish of “polenta”–not the kind made with cornmeal that we had for many, many Sunday dinners, but the kind our beloved Grandma Farm used to make for me by stirring the vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce in my dish until it was well-blended. Grandma always referred to this mixture as “polenta.” I think she may have invented the first soft-serve ice cream!

    Growing up, I was very familiar with our Grandma Store’s freezer case filled with ice cream delights. Most often, I chose the “newlywed”–a sliced chocolate cake and ice cream roll that was somewhat challenging to eat. Usually I just bit into it, but sometimes I liked to unroll it to savor the taste even more.

    Our dad also had his ice cream specialty–the brown cow! Some people may know this as a cola or root beer float, but our dad always called it a brown cow and had his own way of mixing a small amount of cola and vanilla ice cream in the bottom of the glass before adding the big scoops of ice cream topped with cola or root beer. What a refreshing treat on a hot summer day!

    Thanks for the memories of Blake’s on 9th Street where I also had to make the difficult choice between a real ice cream soda and a chocolate marshmallow sundae. I remember the Blake sisters being so petite and sweet. I wonder how often they indulged in the yummy ice cream treats served in their store.

    One of my favorite desserts to make is an ice cream pie. I start with a prepared chocolate cookie crust and fill it generously with any flavor of ice cream (mint chocolate chip, peppermint, spumoni, etc.), then sprinkle chocolate cookie crumbs or drizzle chocolate syrup on top. Freeze this quick and easy dessert and serve to guests who will think you’ve spent hours preparing it!

    Looking forward to eating some delicious MIlwaukee frozen custard on my next visit!
    Love, Mary

  4. Alice, you know the way to my stomach. A quart-size carton of chocolate marshmallow ripple in my freezer is calling me, even though I just finished breakfast. Oh well…

    • Abbie–Thanks for adding to the flavors of ice cream in my post. Thanks to your comment, another memory returned for me: I now recall that chocolate marshallow was a favorite flavor of my mother and sister decades ago. Take care–Alice

  5. jlowman permalink

    Hi!

    I came accross your post after a crazy google search of “persimmon boyscout ice cream”.
    After graduating from their pumpkin flavor, to persimmon, I have been dreaming of it ever since.
    My grandparents use to bring me to the festival as a child, and 15 years later I still consider this to be my favorite ice cream. Hope to revisit the festival sometime soon, and am very grateful to read its still being enjoyed by others 🙂

  6. Carole permalink

    Mmmm! This post brings back delicious memories: Aunt Zita’s spumoni ice cream pie, Blake’s orange-pineapple ice cream cone, DQ’s chocolate/marshmallow sundae, brown cows with Coke or root beer, lemon frozen custard from Paris, and now an orange-flavored ice cream (like our Push-ups) from an orchard near Venice. I’m salivating now!

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