A couple of weeks ago, Jim and I drove to Wisconsin to visit J at his college. The three of us went to the quaint downtown area of his new town, ate lunch at a diner, and then headed back up the street where we had seen a vintage-looking ice cream parlor.
When we checked out the flavor choices that were available in the freezer, I was overjoyed to discover Bubble Gum and, just like that, my decision was made.
Bubble Gum ice cream takes me back to my childhood instantly. It’s the flavor I remember ordering every single time my maternal Grandpa took us out for ice cream. It’s a frozen treat that gives me the warm fuzzies.
As I sat there enjoying my single scoop, lots of memories of Grandpa–who died when I was twelve–floated around in my head.
Grandpa was a tall, very masculine man of Spanish descent. He owned a textile company in Chicago and, as was customary for his generation, prided himself on being the traditional head-of-household while Grandma took care of things at home. He was polished and classy, polite and generous. As manly as he was, he was a softie when it came to his grandkids; he doted on us. I have vivid memories of his picking my toddler self up and dancing me around the living room, counting to ten in Spanish as he swung me around.
Grandpa also regularly let me sit on his lap and drive his car in the neighborhood. (Nobody blinked at that kind of stuff in the 70s.)
He loved Heath Bars and ice cream drumsticks.
He had a miniature liquor bottle collection, which always fascinated me. In fact, my sister and I have custody of those bottles now.
He took Grandma to Las Vegas regularly, and I can imagine them dressed to the nines and fitting right in–visually, anyway–with the Rat Pack kind of crowd.
One of my very favorite possessions is one of two one-armed bandit slot machine banks that Grandma and Grandpa brought home from one of their many Vegas vacations. We grandkids used to play with them and although the arm is frozen from overuse, I can still remember the “rat-tat-tat-tattttttt” sound it used to make, back in its better days.
All of these little memory snippets that are stuck in my head are only a small fraction of the man; obviously my mom and my uncle have thousands more stories of their father but I think it says a lot about a person who is only in the first twelve years of a person’s life (and in my Grandma’s case, the first ten), yet makes an impact that lasts a lifetime and can be brought back to life with a single scoop.