Growing up, most of my family’s vacation time was passed with one day flowing casually into the next. Certain excursions, however, were required to fit into our two week stay.
One such adventure was creatively titled, ” Daddy Days.” We used to vacation with close family friends who also had two children, and for one full day on the vacation, the mothers would escape for a girls day, while the fathers would take responsibility for the kids.
Daddy Days might include the beach, or a lunch bowl of pasta at Billy’s Chowder House. The days could bring us to an arcade, as video games were not allowed in our home (a rule that in retrospect, I am thankful for). After hours of conquering waves with our tie-dyed body boards, running circles around our hotel’s backyard, and beating alligator heads for arcade prizes, we were more than deserving of cool, creamy scoops of homemade ice cream.
Our destination was officially titled Scoop Deck, though we had our own name for it: “The Secret Ice Cream Place.” Secret, because we never took the moms there; it was an in-the-know location for our eyes only, experienced once a year on those days with the dads.
Everyone but me would pause at the billboard-sized sign outside, perusing the flavors, debating which were worthy of a spot atop a sugar cone. I didn’t need to deliberate; I was getting chocolate with chocolate sprinkles, no extra thought needed.
The multitude of flavors were housed inside a whitewashed barn; the line of eager parents and children always snaked far out the door. Inside, paper signs on the walls revealed the mysteries of more complex flavors, such as Boston Blackout or Dinosaur Tracks, a concoction that concealed malt balls inside a cerulean-colored cream.
When the wait finally ended, teenagers in t-shirts and ponytails scribbled orders in shorthand on stenographers pads. To this day, the cash registers are computer and credit card free, and each minute of the experience could occur equally in 1950 or 2009.
In the backyard, permanent black marker handwritten on miniature chairs advised, “If you’re old enough to read this, you’re too old to sit in this chair.” But chairs were unnecessary; with liberal scoops in our hands (a warning out front cautions that ice cream can be “habit-forming”), we’d stroll around the backyard, licking sprinkles before they melted onto the grass below our toes.
We’ve let my mom in on the secret now, but otherwise – some things never change.
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?