What’s better in summer than going out for a cone? Today my younger sister Mary Beth stopped by and invited me out for ice cream. It was early afternoon, and I hadn’t had lunch, so I was game. (I know, none of us really needs ice cream, but you have to agree it’s hard to say no!). Of course, summer means hot weather. As kids, we didn’t care if the ice cream dripped down the cone and onto our hands, our wrists, our arms….unless you were a fast licker, that cone didn’t stand a chance in 90 degrees. Today, I suggested a spot nearby where we could sit inside, in air-conditioned comfort.
When I was about seven years old, we visited my Uncle Carter and Aunt Betty, and their children, our cousins, all of whom are older. Aunt Betty suggested to my older cousin Susan (the oldest of the cousins, and therefore the most important and coolest) to take my sisters and me for a drive, “get the kids a cone.” Susan, who would have been sixteen at the time, probably rolled her eyes, but figured she had the opportunity to drive, so she grabbed her girlfriend, put the three of us on the red vinyl bench seat in the back of the car, and drove to Goddard Park, a jewel in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, on Narragansett Bay. There, she bought each of us a cone. Well, my older sister Ann could make an ice cream cone last for 45 minutes if she had to, and never ever have a spill or a stain. I, of course, would be done with mine well before everyone else and never gave that cone a chance to drip. And then there was Mary Beth. At three years old, I can still see her in her adorable little yellow sundress, sitting in the back of the car on a hot summer day, chocolate ice cream on her face, her tiny hands, and all over her yellow dress. She was grinning and laughing and having the best time – because she was eating ice cream! And if it dripped on the car seat, so what? It’s vinyl! Wipe it off!
A Sunday ritual in our family was taking a drive for ice cream. This usually did not take place in the middle of the summer, because we’d be at the beach, but in the spring and fall, after Sunday dinner, Dad and Mom would put the three of us in the back seat (always the same seating – Ann behind Mom, me behind Dad, Mary Beth in the middle), and we’d drive to the Newport Creamery on Smith Street in Providence. Dad would get the cones and bring them back while we waited (not so) patiently in the car. Then, eating his walnut fudge ice cream, Dad would drive through the “old neighborhood,” which consisted of New York Avenue in Washington Park, over to Narragansett Boulevard, past Saint Paul’s Church, over to Spring Green, then Apponaug, and finally home. And by the time we arrived back home, Ann would just be finishing her cone.