The Empress of Ice Cream

by Pamela Felcher
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ice-cream-scoop.jpg For most of my dad’s young life, he lived above and worked at Felcher’s, his parents’ candy store/ neighborhood lunch counter, tucked between P and G's Bar and Grill and Simpson's Hardware Store on Amsterdam Avenue between 73 and 74th Streets. Christopher Morely, imagined the man of the future while watching my dad as a tiny boy play in front of that store and immortalized him in his novel Kitty Foyle.

Throughout college and law school my dad scooped ice cream and served meals at this lunch counter, as his then girlfriend, my mother, perched herself on a stool out front, eating fudgicles and enticing much of the passing parade, including Frank Gifford and his pals, the other NY Giants. I can still see the scoop my father kept from Felcher’s with its well-worn wooden handle and the scored thumb press that pushed a slim metal band, which would release the perfect scoop every time.

haagendazs rum n raisin icecream, 473ml tub.jpg When I was a kid, growing up in Riverdale, my dad would take us to Goldman’s Luncheonette on Johnson Avenue, where I discovered the unbeatable combination of tuna on rye and chocolate malteds. That I could buy Archie Comics on the way out was another boon. Once my dad moved back to the city, sadly without my mom, my sister, and me, I surprisingly discovered an ice cream that I did not like, which I believed to be one of the staples of divorced fathers everywhere: Haagen Dazs Rum Raisin. All my pleasurable associations with ice cream could have been erased by the shifts in my home life and that brief flavor lapse. But fortunately my tastes are not as ephemeral as the treat itself.

During my teen years, Carvel and Dairy Queen both opened up in my neighborhood: Dariy Queen, on Riverdale Avenue; Carvel, on Johnson Avenue. I am not sure whether it was my loyalty to the long gone Johnson Avenue Goldmans, but for me Carvel won that competition.

take_home_fsvanilla.gifI could not get enough of those Flying Saucers, soft-serve chocolate dipped cones, and Tom Carvel’s fanciful ice cream cakes (what an inspired combo that is, by the way, ICE CREAM CAKE!). Then came the ultimate revelation: BASKIN AND ROBBINS.  I had heard about their ice cream for years everytime my Grandma would return from a visit to my Aunt, in Ventura, who got through her pregnancies by practially living at her local ice cream store.

Once Baskin and Robbins landed in my neighborhood, the sugar cones filled with two scoops of Jamoca Almond Fudge had me scrambling for all the loose change I could muster.

I’d like to say that Ben and Jerry’s and Hagen Dazs and McConnell’s and Cold Stone were my other favorites, but I would be lying. My tastes are far too common. This summer the Chocolate Cherry Overload that Breyer’s has given us feels redemptive because of the large chunks of healthful cherry and dark chcolate, and Trader Joe’s coffee ice cream-- topped with Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup, of course--can perk up even the dullest day. Wallace Stevens says the only emperor is the emperor of ice cream and I say what an empire it is!


Pamela Felcher is the English Department Chair at Hamilton High School's Music and Arts Magnet.

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