The soda fountain at Todd's Drugstore ca. 1910 (for more information on any image, click on the photograph)Now that summer days are finally warming up, ice cream has become the snack of choice for children of all ages. Though many consider it an all-year-round treat, I enjoy ice cream, sorbets, and popsicles most in the summer. Really, who can ignore the bells of an ice cream truck as it swings into a neighborhood? As a child, I know that I couldn’t.
Ice cream was always deliciously special when I was growing up. Today we can readily buy pints of Ben and Jerry’s, Edy’s fruit bars, and Carvel flying saucers, but back in the 1950’s, most home refrigerators had small, inefficient freezer compartments with little extra space for frozen treats. If my parents brought home a quart of ice cream or some ice pops, we were forced to consume them immediately.
The solution to this dilemma was the Good Humor truck that seemed to come by at just the right time each day. Decked out in a white uniform with a silver coin holder on his belt, the Good Humor man was a kid’s summer hero. Gathering a crowd around him, he’d open the magic door that offered cool relief for all those who came running. He’d take an order, pluck out the frozen bar or cup, and deliver heaven to the waiting hand. Ah, the simple pleasures of childhood.
August J. Bruning behind the counter of his ice cream parlor ca. 1925Because our apartment was on the fourth floor, as soon as I’d hear those bells enter the neighborhood, I’d quickly run to my building and start calling up to my mother to ask if I could get something. She too heard the bells, but didn’t want to walk down those four flights. So she would open a window and toss some money down. Though she usually wrapped the coins in a napkin or a hanky, they often scattered on impact and left me hunting in the grass for a glistening nickel or dime. And the next year, when I’d moved to Clunie Avenue, I was delighted to hear the bells of summer and discover that the Good Humor truck came to this street too, arriving just after dinner, the perfect time for dessert.
If you were in the village and wanted ice cream, nothing was better than August J. Bruning’s homemade. It was here that I ordered my first banana split and discovered that it was way too much of an ice cream treat for one little girl. Future visits brought me back to my favorite -- strawberry ice cream. Bruning’s eventually turned into the Cup and Saucer and remained a town favorite for years.
Jacobson's Pharmacy in 1929. The white signs in the windows read ‘Good Chocolate Soda’ and ‘Chocolate Malted Milks’. The sides of the main sign above the shop carry the Hydrox Ice Cream logo.Ice cream parlors and soda fountains have always been popular in Hastings. If you found yourself at Doc Todd’s in 1910, you might have had a sarsaparilla or a dish of peach ice cream. From the late 1930s into the 1960s it was known as Joe Algeo’s Pharmacy. My Dad spent a summer working behind the counter as a “soda jerk,” whipping up cherry cokes and chocolate sodas with vanilla ice cream. Or maybe you went into Jacobson’s Drug Store in the 1940s and were tempted to sample the pineapple sundae or have a coffee ice cream cone while spinning on a fountain stool.
In 1924, Charles Liede operated an ice cream parlor at 2 Main Street. I think that had turned into The Sugar Bowl by the time I was growing up. This location may have also been the site of Adam’s Ice Cream Parlor. During the 1920s Billie Burke would often treat the local children to ice cream there, and not just to a one-cent size cone. The Historical Society records indicate that she would spring for the larger, five-cent serving. And the favorite new flavor back then was tutti-frutti. Now how special was that!
Of course, there were the neighborhood spots to stop in for something cool and creamy. Pantelemon’s, south of the Warburton Avenue Bridge, had a nice soda fountain, and so did Lambert’s on Farragut Parkway. Or you might go into Whitey’s market, near the bridge, and find the most flavorful ice pops around. There were many choices, many flavors, and many memories made each summer day in Hastings.
Sam Caruso mans the soda fountain in Jacobson's Pharmacy in 1946