It Takes a Licking

As the leaving date closes in on me, there had to be time for some old fashioned ice cream. Tewksbury is an old fashioned American town, and it only makes sense that cow by-products are involved. Like most real Americans, I wouldn’t have it any udder way.

One night, relatively late, I hankered after some cold dessert, and so I went into search mode. The grocery store was closed, so I moved on. A gas station was open, but had no ice cream. Then I drove by Mac’s, but it looked dark. Then I noticed the ‘Open’ sign lit up with new, low-wattage light bulbs, the kind powered by a hamster on a treadmill. Then I noticed a couple cars in the parking lot. So I pulled in.

Welcome to Mac’s Dairy Farm, which is of course on Main Street, because this is America.

High school kids work there, little skinny ones, big ones with broad shoulders on the football team, and girls who take your order through a window. There are dozens of flavors, and they hand pack it in containers or on cones. I bought some vanilla, butter pecan, chocolate mint chip, and for the piece de resistance, German chocolate cake.

My family comes from Scotland, but somehow they got lost and wound up in West Virginia. Go ahead and belt out the John Denver song, if you wish. It really is a beautiful place, and you should see it for yourself. Anyway, in Clarksburg, West Virginia, I had an Aunt Tillie, a redoutable character in curlers and a cigarette dangling from her lip. Aunt Tillie made my first German chocolate cake, and to this day the best I ever ate. The Mac’s ice cream version was amazing.

My dad’s favorite ice cream is butter pecan, and he would love the one they make at Mac’s, a rich and buttery bowl of outrageous flavor with lots of nuts. If my dad and I ever intersect in Tewksbury I’m going to buy him a cone the size of his head. Dad grew up poor, and loved his ice cream, which used to be a rare treat. In his better years, as an electrical engineer making good money, he would sit on the porch, watching a baseball game and doing some serious damage to a half gallon of ice cream, armed only with a spoon.

Mac’s was open pretty late on the 4th of July, and did a brisk business. Kind of nice to see that in this age of the mega corporation, a small, local firm can still compete and make customers happy. And you can bet that there will be no artificial ingredients, weird chemicals or melamine powder, like some Chinese dairy manufacturers use.

I finished off the pint of chocolate mint chip last night, which will be my way of saying goodbye to Tewksbury, where I’ve been staying with my in-laws while the tumblers fell into place. The car transport truck will be here tomorrow morning, to whisk my Audi to its new home in Seattle. Tomorrow there are a few last minute errands to run, and then very early Thursday I fly out of Boston, headed for a green, new future in the Pacific Northwest. Almost heaven.


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