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Menu of Ice Cream Memories

June 26, 2019

 

NOTE:  On this summer day of the opening of Summerfest in Milwaukee I am awaiting the “Big Bang” fireworks display over Lake Michigan (as well as the first presidential debate of this political season).  With all of these summery thoughts in mind, I am sharing with you a 2015 “ice cream post” which I revised and refreshed for your summer reading in 2019.  Finally, Milwaukee has enjoyed a beautiful and warm summer day.  Isn’t this evening the perfect time for some ice cream recollections and a special ice cream treat?

 

An Ice Cream Menu of Memories

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

As this summer of 2019 is finally shining forth, 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.  When crisp autumn air arrives, bring on the pumpkin ice cream.  During the Christmas season, I am always ready for peppermint candy ice cream, as well as gingerbread 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 with scoops of recollections!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

June 26, 2019, Wednesday

 

 

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10 Comments
  1. Dear Alice,
    After reading your post at almost 10:30 pm, I have to admit that a scoop of chocolate ice cream would taste delicious right now! Actually, I had a small chocolate sundae for dessert after dinner, so I must pass. One of the highlights of our trip to Colorado Springs in the summer of 1964 was a visit to Michele’s Ice Cream Parlor where I was treated to a 12-inch ice cream soda called the “Pikes Peak Surprise”—and was I surprised! As the huge treat was being served to me, bells started ringing, silverware clattered, and I realized that all of this commotion was centered around me and the special dessert that had been ordered for me. The surprise was as delicious as it was tall, and I did my best to finish every creamy bite. After moving to Colorado many years later, I returned to Michele’s and enjoyed the treats, but never quite as much as I did on that very first visit. Thanks for all the ice cream memories!
    Love to you and Willow,
    Mary

    • Good evening, Mary–Well, my recollection differs slightly.  I recall that the Pike’s Peak Special was “Elevation:  14 inches.” Also, I definitely remember that the huge ice cream soda, which even included two large pieces of cake within the very tall and wide soda glass, was ordered by the Benjamins for you and me!  I am positive that we shared the eating of this huge treat.  With even a little help from tastes by our parents, I do not believe we completed eating all of the ice cream soda–super deluxe style. The experience was so remarkable!  How did I forget to include this memory in my ice cream chronology?  I will have to insert this anecdote into my memoir.  Thanks for the memory!

      ‘Tis the season for ice cream!  Enjoy!

      Alice and Willow

  2. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Alice–started reading this around 6:30 A.M. and probably this is the first time ever, that I am wishing for some kind of ice cream at this time of the day. Always enjoy reading about your relatives.–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–Your comment gave me a chuckle!  I think I became hungry for ice cream when I was writing and revising this blog post!  I was especially ready for a couple of dips of licorice voodoo icecream because I have not had this flavor for decades.

      Hoping to see you soon–Alice and Willow

  3. Many thanks to you, Alice, for your accurate memory of this great ice cream experience that we shared! As you know, Michele’s closed several years ago or I would be on my way to the Springs right now for another Pike’s Peak Special.
    Love to you and Willow,
    Mary

    • Good afternoon, Mary–You are welcome!  Someday, you will have to create a Pike’s Peak Special for your grandchildren to sample; or you could try making the Spumoni Cake.

      Enjoy your summer party tonight!

      Alice and Willow

  4. Francetta Rayce permalink

    Hi Alice, What delicious memories you have recorded. I think we Vermillion County folks were spoiled by the delicious flavor combinations of the Wright Ice Cream Company spumoni. I have tried in vain, with many sacrificial tastings, (haha), to duplicate the flavors, but nothing ever compares. Perhaps it’s best to leave it that way. Happy Fourth of July to you and to Willow. Love, Fran

    • Good afternoon, Fran–Thanks for your comment!  Recently, I discovered that a nearby store offers a “Spumoni Cake,” each layer of the three-layer cake is comparable to each layer of the spumoni pie.  I imagine the recipe for Spumoni Cake is on the internet also.  While the cake sounds very good, I, on this hot summer day, would prefer a slice of Wright’s spumoni ice cream pie.

      Happy Fourth of July to you and yours also!

      Alice and Willow

  5. Paula Lumb permalink

    Alice, my husband and I join you as members of the icecream lovers club! In fact, I had just finished off a small bowl of coffee icecream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup, topped by chocolate “jimmies,” a Maine name for chocolate sprinkles! We also love DQ’s soft-serve icecream. Whenever Deon and I met for our outings, we would often end up at the DQ in Fairfield, not far from his home, to indulge in a Blizzard. We were raised on icecream. I love this trip around your icecream history. Terrific details and memories, Alice. Happy Fourth of July; an icecream holiday, for sure! My best to you!

    • Dear Paula,

         How wonderful to find this delightful comment from you on this ice cream post!  The cherry-on-top of your comment was your mentioning how you and Deon enjoyed stops at the Dairy Queen for Blizzards.  Hearing about Deon warms my heart, and I thank you for sharing this memory.

      Hoping you and yours enjoyed a happy Fourth of July and that all is going better for you this summer,

      Alice and Willow

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