This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Searching for All-American Ice Cream

            Last week Linda and I were in the mountains for several days. I was fishing for trout, she was reading a mystery for pleasure, and we were both scouting locations to get local color for future Quill Gordon mysteries.
            This has been a terrible season for wildfires in California. On Monday, the valley where we were staying was choked with smoke from one of them ( I don’t know which), coming from more than a hundred miles away. Some wind came up in the afternoon and blew it away, but my throat felt the effects well into the following day.
            On Wednesday, we drove home and ended up going through the smoke from the King Fire near Sacramento. We were driving 50 miles to the north of it, but the smoke was drifting in that direction. It was so dense you could barely make out mountain ranges a couple of miles away, and the air quality … Well, let’s just say it made a smoke-filled Vegas casino look like a medical office by comparison.

We Deserved a Break

            The original plan was to stop at Colfax in the Sierra foothills for ice cream, but the smoke was still awful there, so we kept going. Several miles down the road, we suddenly came out of it into clean air and blue skies. At that point, the search for ice cream began anew.
            One of the great things about the small mountain towns we were visiting is that they have great locally owned frosty stands that look as if they came straight from the 1950s or earlier. Coming out of the mountains, we had a craving for that sort of place, but in more metropolitan areas they’ve all but vanished.
            Nevertheless, hope springs eternal. When we stopped for gas in the town of Rocklin, I asked the young lady at the cashier in the convenience store where we might be able to get a frosty locally. Her first response was Wendy’s or McDonald’s.
            I kept pressing, saying we were looking for some place local, and she mentioned an establishment called Taylors, about a mile and a half down the road in the nearby town of Loomis. Armed with her directions and no GPS, we set out to find it.

Going Back to 1947

            We almost didn’t because it’s surrounded by trees and the only signage was on the building itself. It was a white wood building with red trim and a shake roof; it looked as if it had been built in 1947 and maintained well, but otherwise left unchanged.
            School must have let out early because there were a number of junior high school-aged kids at the tables outside. Inside were hand-painted signs advertising the offerings, which included a milkshake made from any available flavor of ice cream. I didn’t count them all, but it looked as if there were about 200 flavors of ice cream. The smell of fried burgers wafted from the kitchen into the interior of the stand.
            When I was a kid, going on trips with my parents in the fifties and sixties, we stopped at places like Taylors for a treat. They were everywhere, and it’s jarring now to think how few of them are left. Linda had a loganberry shake and I had a large frosty. We took our goodies outside and ate them at a round shaded table. For a quarter of an hour we were transported back in time, in a positive way. It was the gastronomic highlight of the trip.