We all scream for ice cream

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer June 21, 2013 10:15 am

When I was a kid, you could get a pack of Wrigley’s gum for a dime, a PayDay candy bar for 25 cents, gasoline for 50 cents a gallon and a Ford Fairlane for a dollar. Just kidding. Having seen me tearing up the neighborhood on a tricycle, no one would sell me a Fairlane. 

Legal driving on the public roads and streets didn’t start until age 16 anyway. On the ranch — wink, wink, nod, nod — we started driving much earlier. We had a billion hay bales to move each summer, and after the rain that baling hay inevitably brought on, a billion hay bales to turn over to dry.  

If you were too young to move one of my uncle LeRoy’s 100-pound bales, way heavier bales than average for those days, you got stuck with truck-driving duty.

At first, Uncle Alan would set me in the seat of the truck and tell me to steer. I was not strong enough to shift or tall enough to reach the brake or gas pedals. He’d put the truck in granny gear and then nimbly climb on the flatbed and start stacking one more load. I’d steer. When it came time for the truck to stop, he’d jump in the cab, push me aside and hit the brakes.

What brings all this up is ice cream. The prices of hay and ice cream are going through the roof. The other evening my wife and I, after going on an after-dinner walk in Milton-Freewater, decided to top off the night with an ice-cream cone. We had $3 between us. 

At the first stop, a nationwide fast food chain, ice cream cones were $1.89. Disappointed, and not wanting to share, we set off to a mom-and-pop neighborhood hamburger joint. Wrong idea. Ice-cream cones there were $2. 

Skunked, I sulked home, had some lemon-water and pouted.

Making it worse, I know a place in the Grande Ronde Valley where you can get a 75-cent baby cone. 

“I want a baby,” I told my wife.

“We’re not having a baby. We’re 56 years old,” she said. “The only baby we’re going to have is the rich kid with a trust fund that we adopt.”

“No, I mean a baby ice cream cone,” I said.

“We’re not driving 90 miles to get an ice cream cone,” she said.

For the moment, I am stuck with going to one restaurant for ice cream cones. My granddad the frugal cattle rancher, Oswald Jensen Swensen Andersen Lars Christian Hans Petersen, was the same way. Toward the end of his 99-year life, he could only go to one place out for coffee — a national fast-food chain that is old and has a farm, e-i-e-i-o. Grandpa’s quest for 25-cent coffee had painted him into a social corner.

So am I. And I am bound and determined to have that baby.