Durng my West Coast voyage through some former childhood haunts, I found myself in Albany, Oregon, the town where I grew up. A city: both rural and not. Neither urban nor suburban. Not even exurb.

Apparently, since I left several decades ago, that little city in the Willamette Valley became known for its Victorian neighborhoods. “Let’s go look at the hundreds of homes” squealed my good friend. Whoopee.  JUST what I want to do: drive by a bunch of old houses in Albany. Which, attitude aside, is precisely what we did.

Soft Ice Cream Joint

That is how we ended up at the Hasty Freeze ice cream hut of my youth. Dad used to take us to this tiny little drive-in. “Get whatever you want” he would tell my brother and me. Which really meant “I’ll get you a 10-cent soft ice cream cone.”

By now, of course, I have sugarcoated those cones in my memory.   A swirl of perfectly frozen creamy deliciousness with just the right touch of iciness on the tongue. Vanilla, of course.

My friend and I drove around the hut — which hasn’t changed a wit since I lived there — to get to the window. That is when we spotted the Monster SUV. Massive to begin with, then jacked up to a height that would require a ladder to enter the cab.

And then — the wait began.

I have no idea what the man in that truck ordered. All I know is that we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Somewhere around the 15-minute mark (you know how that goes: you get to that I’ve-waited-this-long point where there is no turning back. In fact, we passed that point. Several times.) I saw an arm from the window pass out a tiny bag. The driver hands over a credit card. Wait wait wait. Another bag, another card. Really!? Apparently they were “dutching” it.

By this time, my friend and I had worked out a whole “movie” about the people who were making us wait. Finally, we moved to the front. I griped to my friend “Damn! I didn’t get a picture of the damn truck for my blog”. She, a former Hollywood pruducer quipped: “We were there long enough to prop, light and set up the shot.”. “Prop it, hell” I countered. “We could’ve cast it and set up syndication rights.” Friend: “and negotiated foreign distribution”.

By this point, we had our two 10-cent ice cream cones (at a cost of $2.38) and were giggling like high schoolers.

Great fun! Oh yeah: that Hasty Freeze cone was delicious. As good as I remembered.

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