Category Archives: Hartford

Ice Cream for Mom’s Birthday

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The line on Friendly’s menu says “We make everything for our hot fudge

sundae except the cherry!” The restaurant and franchise started with a

$500 loan to two young brothers, Pres and Curt Blake, when they opened

their first Friendly’s in 1935.

Mom was in first grade in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Friendly’s

started. Her father, Walter W. Mattson, a teen immigrant who studied

engineering in Brooklyn’s technical college, was an inspector of steam

boilers for Hartford Steam Boiler. “He trained and inspected,” Mom tells me,

“up and down the Eastern Seaboard.”

Times were hard for some families during the depression, hers was “okay

but we survived on a lot of soup!” (Mom says.)

Her father’s job took him all along the  New England coastline, going

north into New Hampshire, “even Maine,” and south to Connecticut.

“Dad would be gone for a week sometimes at a time.”

“There were times,” she exclaimed, “that he would come home and a

nice surprise would be for all of us to go out for an ice cream cone.”

By third grade, Mom says they were living in East Hartford, and probably

had visited the Friendly’s that had spread from Springfield to there for ice

cream cones.

The two brothers found by using only fresh ingredients, milk from local

farmers, making their sauces from homemade ingredients, and also,

their cones that the popularity and market required more space to make

the ice cream and accompaniments. So, Prestley and Curt opened a small

facility, later expanding it, in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. The reputation

and flavors of the delicious ice cream created more and more of the

restaurants, known as “Friendly’s Ice Cream Shoppes” around.

The hot fudge recipe is made with the ingredients their mother used: cocoa,

sugar and fresh milk.

While growing up in Sandusky, then moving to Cleveland, we frequented

the Friendly’s restaurants. I always enjoyed the “clam boats” or “clam rolls.”

We also found that Howard Johnson’s served them. Mom and Dad felt the

children’s menus were reasonably priced and this was a fun treat at both

restaurants.

While searching for a central Ohio home, halfway between my ex-husband

and my parents, both Westerville and Delaware, interestingly enough, had a

still ‘up and running’ Friendly’s restaurant. I was looking at these two university

towns, Otterbein and Ohio Wesleyan. While studying the elementary schools,

I chose Delaware.  My three children loved the Reese’s peanut butter cup and

later, the Reese’s pieces children’s sundaes that accompanied the kids’ meals.

I loved that the local Delaware owner/manager had specials like “kids meals

the price of the temperature” or “one children’s meal free with adult’s meal.”

Mom loved her birthday meal, choosing to have an  all American hamburger

with a grilled brioche bun and applesauce. I had the Senior clam dinner with

fries and cole slaw.

Both our dinners came with complimentary dessert sundaes. Mom chose

straight chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, no sauce. I had a butter

pecan with caramel topping along with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

The ingredients all seem very similar and tasted wonderful to me!

Since Mom had cake for the October birthdays’ celebration, along with

apple cider and a pumpkin donut on Thursday, I felt that “covered” the

cake part of her birthday “party.” At the end of the month, she will have

the November birthdays’ celebration, right after Thanksgiving. We, my

youngest daughter, brothers, sister in law and niece with her boyfriend,

will have another time to share family memories and traditions.

She opened some gifts of sweaters and decorations to put on the shelf

outside her door. I asked if she wanted to go to Randy’s art gallery show,

on Friday evening. Mom said she and her dog, Nicki would stay in and spend

a relaxing evening at home.

I felt lucky to have her for this birthday. Always am grateful that she is still

around. I hope that the different things we did this week and  on her 84th

birthday made her feel happy because the memories seemed to draw her

inward and she was quiet.

I imagine, but did not want to bring it up, she thinks not only of her parents

being gone,  but my Dad on special occasions and every day, too.