Ice cream sundries
On one of the warm evenings we've been having she looked up to say, ''I'd like a Boston Cooler.'' I've no idea of the original habitat of the Boston Cooler, but we had 'em here in Maine, and her wish is my command. I went to the freezer for a box of vanilla ice cream and to the refrigerator for some ginger ale. A Boston Cooler is a tumbler of ice cream topped off with ginger ale. You eat and drink it simultaneously, and as the level of ginger ale lowers you add more. Could it be that the Boston Cooler began up this way and Boston never knew about it? It was that way with Five Fruit.
Five Fruit might have become THE big bottled beverage, but it remained a Maine-State item and lost to the colas. Moxie, true, was also State-o'-Maine, and there's been something of a celebration over its anniversary this year. It did go national, but it lacked appeal somewhere and declined until its owner, as a last-ditch stand, changed its flavor with the thought of competing with the colas. When it wasn't Moxie any longer, it wasn't much.
But Five Fruit didn't even try to be big, and went its way as the colas came on. The maker, a wholesale firm in Portland, never divulged what the five fruits were in the recipe, but they made a pleasant combination and in the early days of soda fountains Five Fruit was Maine's standby. ''Can I treat to a Five Fruit?'' was an invitation to step into Pop Wakely's confectionary store and have refreshment. The syrup made from five fruits was brought to life by a squirt of carbonated water from the ''sody'' fountain, stirred gently just as the glass was set forward, and at Pop Wakely's the glass was always the Moxie glass supplied by the Moxie people for advertising Moxie.
As we enjoyed our Boston Coolers that warm evening, we dwelt on such things, and we came to the ''velvet.'' I've been told this is a northern New England term for what is otherwise a frappe, which is a frap. Milk shakes were shaken, but when electric mixers were added to soda fountain equipment the ''soda jerk'' could whip up ice cream, and I judge the name ''velvet'' came from the saying, ''... smooth as velvet.'' A scoop of ice cream, a touch of syrup, and a serving of cold milk, all frothed to a frazzle - a velvet.
Memory says a chocolate velvet stood No. 1 in these parts, but a choice depended on what flavors of ice cream were available - vanilla, strawberry, coffee, and maybe pineapple. Nobody would ask for a velvet made of tutti-frutti, otherwise ''frozen pudding.'' I'm talking about the days when ice cream parlors made their own ice creams, and perhaps a little time into the era of shipped-in tubs.
It was also a company in Portland, Maine, that first offered ready-made ice cream that arrived weekly by railroad in steel cans enclosed in tubs of salted ice. When this service became reliable enough, the summer hotels of Maine added ice cream to Sunday dinner menus, and Friday became ''ice cream day'' - the day the ''ice cream train'' stopped at the resort areas and stages from the hotels and camps picked up the tubs. Real successful resorts would have three tubs - chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry - but a lesser camp, not so popular, would take but one. To be ''only a vanilla'' camp was lower-rung stuff. The steel cans and the wooden tubs would be returned to the creameries on the Monday and Tuesday trains, along with the next Friday's order.
An ice cream parlor needed not only the marble-topped fountain with its syrup siphons, ice cream wells, and a big mirror, but wire tables and wire chairs. ''Now if you youngsters behave in the store while Mother does the errands, we'll go to Mr. Eubel's and have a cream!'' Finest kind of bribery, and then, when we were perched on our wire seats, ''Now, sit up straight and don't dangle your legs like ninnies - act like proper people!'' There was style to having a cream, and along with my first haircut, my first long pants, my first home run, I remember my first banana split.
When Looie Sarugga put in his new soda fountain, it became a town classic. Looie had kept a fruit stand ever since he came to town as a new immigrant, and everybody got excited about his adding an ice cream parlor. First in town! When Looie hooked the thing up, do-it-yourself, he got his carbonated water tank installed hind side to, so he inadvertently carbonated the entire town water system. Frightened a few housewives, but it was smart advertising.