Ice cream spurs nostalgia as local residents celebrate National Ice Cream Month

ELKINS – Digging into a cool ice cream treat is one of the favorite ways for people to cool off in the summer.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. He recognized ice cream as a fun, nutritious food that is enjoyed by 90 percent of the nation’s population. In the proclamation, Reagan called for all people of the United States to observe these events with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

In honor of National Ice Cream Month, readers shared their favorite ice cream flavors, as well as special memories they hold from childhood involving the tasty confection.

Len Pennington said black raspberry cones and pinwheels from C&Js Dairy King in Valley Bend are his favorite.

“They are amazing and I have been going there since I was a kid in the 70s,” Pennington said.

Brenda Wiseman Pritt, of Elkins, said her family always shared ice cream.

“I remember my dad buying a half-gallon of ice cream from the supermarket every Sunday evening,” Pritt said. “There were six children and two parents to feed so there wasn’t much of a helping, but it made it taste even better that way. We always watched ‘Bonanza’ when we got our Sunday night ice cream. It was the best of times.”

Kathy Best King, formerly of Davis, said her favorite is homemade chocolate ice cream.

“I remember hot summer nights, Mom would make homemade ice cream on the back porch,” Best said. “It had a motor that made a terrible sound and as a little kid, I always thought it would burst into flames. I still can remember the smell of the vanilla and sugar and how cold and creamy it was. It wasn’t hard like today’s store-bought ice cream, more like soft serve. Of course, I also remember making ice cream out of snow, something I wouldn’t do today with all the pollutants in the sky.”

Rebecca Shumway said when she was a kid, her family would go to King’s Island and ride the Smurf Tunnel.

“Afterwards, my little sister and I would eat blue ice cream out of a cone,” Shumway said. “Good times.”

Susie Reckart Martin, of Elkins, said her favorite ice cream story was from when she played youth softball.

“Our team had won first place overall in the league that year, and my mom wanted to celebrate by having a party at our house,” Martin said. “She made a 10-foot ‘hogs trough’ and lined it with aluminum foil. Every topping, including bananas and whipped cream, was displayed in the trough. All of us kids sat down on the grass and ate away. It was one of my favorite memories being a child. We actually even made the newspaper with all of us kids digging in the trough. Good times.”

Susan Plumley, of Bluefield, said she recently enjoyed the “best ice cream ever.”

“I am a huge ice cream lover. At the Corner Shop, in Bramwell, makes the best ice cream,” Plumley said. “This week’s flavor of the week includes Butterfinger. My son-in-law, Josh Sizemore, treated me to a very generous scoop of this creamy delight. I will definitely visit there again – soon.”

Elkins resident Barbara McQuain remembers getting ice cream in Elkins as a young child.

“If memory serves me correctly, there used to be a Dairy Queen with a walk-up window on Davis Avenue near City Hall and the Darden House,” McQuain said. “When I was in first grade and going to the Central School Annex (a.k.a. the Old Catholic School on Randolph Avenue) our teacher took us to this Dairy Queen and then the class went to the D&E College hill and played for the afternoon. Most of the class got Dilly bars and I remember I didn’t want one because I didn’t like the crunchy cover they had on Dilly bars.

“I remember getting my very first banana split at the Dairy Mart (now the Custard Stand) on Harrison Avenue,” McQuain said. “They had a walk-up window where the current drive-thru is. My cousins from Virginia had come in and the oldest cousin, who could drive, took all the younger cousins to the ice cream stand. I was the youngest at the time, before my sister, Erin McQuain Quint, was born. Being the youngest didn’t stop me from finishing the entire banana split. I was the only cousin to completely eat their treat. A moment I am still proud of and a fond childhood memory.”

Richard Leitner, of Elkins, said he remembers his grandma’s old-fashioned ice cream maker.

“When you stayed your vacation week with her, she would make homemade vanilla ice cream,” Leitner said. “Boy, was it good. She made you feel like you were her favorite grandchild, even though she had 15 grandchildren at the time. So my favorite ice cream has to be vanilla and the place to get a vanilla cone that comes close to my grandma’s is at Uncle Bill’s Ice Cream Stand in Elkins.”

Ellen Fortney said her favorite part of summer when growing up was visiting her Grandma Freda Kerns Smith in Valley Bend.

“We would go to Bell’s Dairy King, now C&Js, for their famous raspberry ice cream,” Fortney said. “When I was grown I would often stop there on my way to visit my grandparents and get them each a cup of that ice cream as a treat. Today, that same raspberry ice cream remains a family tradition as it is now a favorite of my own granddaughter, Bethany Fortney.”

Liz Marshall MacVean, of Elkins, said she remembers when Elkins had an ice cream truck that had a soft serve machine.

“I remember when he would stop on the corner and all the kids would run get money from their parents,” MacVean said. “It was only 50 cents or maybe less. We would all go to the ice cream truck and stand in a line for ice cream cones.”

Elkins resident Jenny Evans-Markley said her favorite ice cream flavor is black walnut and soft serve chocolate.

“I remember making it as a kid and it was so yummy,” she said.

David Kesling said Uncle Bill’s Ice Cream Stand in Elkins makes the best peanut butter milk shake, which he called “so good.”

Sandy Young of Elkins said she remembers sitting on the front porch with her family at night, dressed in pajamas.

“My parents would decide to go to Dairy Delight in Crystal Springs for ice cream,” Young said. “We would get into the station wagon in our p.j.s and go get ice cream.”

Elkins resident Clark Martin said his first banana split was “at the Dari Delite. I considered it the king of all frozen dairy creations.”

Kevin Hostetler shared his childhood memories.

“From the time I was 3 years old until about eight or nine, every Friday night, I stayed with my grandparents in south Elkins,” Hostetler said. “I would sit with Grandma on the couch watching ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ while Grandpa would bring me chocolate ice cream cones and Mt. Dew – usually at least two ice cream cones. It was just carton ice cream bought at Foodland, but it was chocolate.”

Former Elkins resident Diana Stalnaker Dyer remembers homemade ice cream.

“The first homemade ice cream I had was at Katie Gartman’s house in the mid-1970s,” she said. “I think it was coffee-flavored and coffee is my favorite flavor.”

Nancy Anne Loudin said today she loves the fancy cones with caramel and marshmallow swirls.

“But I have memories of Mom taking us to Valley Belle Dairy in Charleston after we had been to the dentist as a reward,” Loudin said. “The best times were making homemade ice cream with my kids when they were small, in the 70s, and we lived on ‘the farm’ in French Creek and had scads of fresh milk and cream from a Jersey cow.”

Genna Johnson Fincham, of Elkins, said hands down, her favorite ice cream comes from Handels in Ohio.

“It is so good Amy and Abby wanted it instead of cake for their 16th birthday, which happens to be the day after Christmas,” Fincham said. “So there we are waiting in line outside because it is only a walk-up window and it is about 20 degrees outside with our whole family getting ice cream. And yes, there was a line. We were not the only crazy people. It is so good.”

Former Elkins resident Christina Hyre Nestor said when she was little, her mom and dad always took their family to the gas station by Hiawatha’s to get ice cream.

“They always had bubble gum ice cream,” Hyre said. “It wasn’t just bubble gum flavored ice cream, it had actual bubble gum pieces in it. I always got that kind.

“One time my best friend, Jennifer Band, and I were out with my dad for something else and we wanted ice cream,” she said. “He didn’t bring money because we were only out to return a TV we had borrowed for something. We looked all through the truck and finally found enough change for one cone. Jennifer and I split the come and took turns on the pieces of bubble gum, riding in the back of the truck all the way home. Such a special memory for me.”

Fran McLaughlin, of Elkins, said she remembers going to Whitmer as a little girl to visit her paternal grandparents for the weekend.

“My dad would buy cartons of neapolitan ice cream,” she said. “All my cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents would have one-scoop ice cream cones late at night. P.j.s and hair curlers were the standard dress at the time. It was a special time for the whole family to be together. My favorite flavor is vanilla.”

Sherri Bennett Marstiller said her favorite ice cream comes from Nick’s Ice Cream truck of Elkins.

“It reminds of when I was young and the ice cream truck came to our neighborhood,” she said.

Kim Hamrick is another person who named her favorite ice cream as the raspberry from C&Js Dairy King in Valley Bend.

“I remember my dad taking me there as a kid just to get their ice cream,” she said. “I still go there to get it now. I love it.”

Liz Lancaster, of Parsons, said she loves chocolate ice cream.

“My favorite memory is my grandparents taking all of us to Custard’s Last Stand in Keyser,” she said. “It was a special treat we looked forward to every summer. Oh how I miss those days.”

Elkins resident Debbie Tysor said when she was a little girl there was a store near Montrose on the way to Parsons, right in the sharp curve of the road.

“The storekeeper, an older gentleman, would get me a big hand-dipped scoop of butter almond ice cream,” she said. “It was the best ice cream I had ever tasted.”

Stephanie Burge remembers her grandmother, Hilda Phares, taking her to Double AA Roundup for ice cream after school.

“My cousin, Cindy Thompson, used to work there,” she said. “My grandma and I preferred sugar cones with butter pecan ice cream. Those were the good days. Now I’m addicted to DQ chocolate milkshakes.”

Beverly Tompkins said her favorite ice cream is peanut butter made at home in a crank freezer.

“My siblings and I are peanut butter lovers, so Mom decided to make her own recipe for us about 40 years ago and it is still my favorite,” she said. “I have also made a little twist to it on occasion by making our homemade chocolate and adding dollops of peanut butter. Oh my.”

Wal-Mart in Elkins even offers a frozen confection for pets – Frosty Paws -that is safe for your favorite canine.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the U.S. ice cream industry generated total revenues of $10 billion in 2010, with take-home ice cream sales representing the largest section of the market, generating revenues of $6.8 billion or 67.7 percent of the market’s overall value. About 9 percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, contributing significantly to the economic well-being of the nation’s dairy industry.

The first official account of ice cream in the U.S. comes from a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland Gov. William Bladen. The first advertisement for ice cream in this country appeared in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, when confectioner Philip Lenzi announced that ice cream was available “almost every day.”

Records kept by a Chatham Street, New York, merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. Inventory records of Mount Vernon taken after Washington’s death revealed “two pewter ice cream pots.”

President Thomas Jefferson was said to have a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy that resembled a modern-day Baked Alaska. In 1813, First Lady Dolley Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President James Madison’s second inaugural banquet at the White House.

No matter what your favorite flavor, or where your favorite ice cream eatery is, remember to take the time to get out, especially during National Ice Cream Month, and enjoy an American favorite folks scream for – ice cream.