21 October, 2006

A Trip to Benson's

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts; where, like every other New England town, we had an ice cream stand. Benson's sat right on the busiest road in West Boxford, Rte. #133; on Sunday afternoons in the summer Mr. Benson would have to hire an off-duty police officer to direct traffic, the place was that popular! The draw: their fresh strawberry and fresh raspberry ice creams, in season; all the ice cream at Benson's was homemade. People raved about the ice cream, they still do, and even today will drive half-way across the state for a cone!

I've never been a big ice cream fan. As a child, I always knew what would happen when anyone suggested a "trip to Benson's". Not that it was so much of a trip, we lived a mile from the place. We'd get there and everyone would decide what they wanted by reading the listed flavors for that day off the slats on the outside "flavor board", right beside the window where orders were placed. Sure enough, I'd be asked: "do you want a cone with jimmies (sprinkles if you're not from New England), or a frappe or a sundae?" I never did. I wanted Orange Ade. Then, whoever I was with would look at me... as though I had just sprouted wings. "Huh? No ICE CREAM?" It was always the same. I still feel like some sort of criminal, even in the re-telling today. No, I wanted the cool orange drink which was pumped and recirculated around the big, square, clear dispenser sitting right there in the window! But that never put an end to the questioning. "Don't you LIKE ice cream?" I was afraid if I said "no" I'd be sent away to kid-jail or wherever they placed little girls who didn't order up scoops upon scoops, so I'd always have my answer ready: "I just don't want any today." Whoever I was with would then observe me, carefully, as though I was an extremely odd child; and, eventually, acquiesce. The cool orange drink was finally mine!

Isn't it amazing how a taste, one swallow, can trigger a memory so strong it transports you through space and time; back 40- 45 years? Tropicana has a bottled Orange Ade at the grocery store now, shelved right beside their yummy Lemon Ade. I bought some last week, it's delicious! And once again, there I stood at the order window, on trip to Benson's!

Life is Good!

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