For my debut post I thought I’d combine ice cream and hot. So, here goes.
As a kid growing up in a small bay side town in NJ, the local luncheonette was the perfect place to hang out. It was also a favorite stop for after church refreshments. The store’s allure consisted of a lunch counter and a few booths, a penny candy display case, comic book racks, pinball machines and open shelves for a variety of items.
The after-church ritual began at noon as mom, my sister and I walked the half-block to the store. We sat at the counter, never in the booths. In winter I always ordered hot chocolate covered in whipped cream. It was so hot, I tested it with a spoon before taking a sip. In warmer weather, I’d have a banana shake poured from one of those metal containers that are taller than the glass so there is always extra. With the drinks, I usually got two pieces of buttered toast. It was golden brown, greasy with butter and tasted like heaven. Homemade toast never came close.
When the hot, dog-days of summer arrived, our focus was on the Dairy Freeze. Open from mid-April through Labor Day, its specialty was vanilla and/or chocolate soft serve ice cream for ten cents. It costs five cents extra for sprinkles or a chocolate shell coating.
We’d head to the Freeze nearly every night after dinner. Sometimes I’d walk the two blocks myself and bring back cones for my mom, dad and sister in a carryout box. My success at this endeavor depended on how hot and humid the day was. Regardless, I usually had to lick the dripping cones to keep them from melting all over the box. Maybe that was the reason I never minded getting cones for everyone. And if my family minded their cones being licked, they never said.
What does this have to do with writing? Attention to details can really set the time/place of a story and make us feel like we are there with the characters. Remember what it was like to be ten, carrying that box of take out cones…licking each one to keep them from melting? Finding that “kid within” is what makes our middle grade stories sing.
Darlene Beck Jacobson