Ice cream sodas…….. the ties that bind.

I got a little taste of heaven yesterday. Well, actually it was a “black and white” soda. You remember, a chocolate ice cream soda with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top.

But it wasn’t the soda, so much as the moment, that was heaven-like. You see, I was enjoying it with my two granddaughters. Yesterday was their father’s birthday. I volunteered to take them out yesterday afternoon so they could shop for a present for their dad. Now usually my wife takes on this kind of endeavor, but she was gone, visiting her sister at the beach. I was somewhat reminded of that expression “never send a boy to do a man’s job”, but off I went on this intrepid quest.

At some point, after having little success and feeling a little bedraggled, I suggested we sit down and mull this over while imbibing an ice cream soda. Imagine my shock when neither of them knew what that was! When I was a young, an ice cream soda was the highlight of any day. It was that one serene moment in the chaos that was a little boy’s daily fare. Sitting at the counter slurping that giant soda at White’s drugstore in Elmira, New York was Nirvana. Maybe it only seemed bigger, as childhood memories do tend to exaggerate somewhat. But it was such an “in the moment” experience for me that I see myself on that very stool right now, as if I was ordering it while plunking down my last shiny quarter.

Anyway, back to the future. As I coaxed the girls into this idea, off we went to Timberlake Drugstore, home of one of the few remaining old-timey soda fountains in civilization. More famous for their milkshakes and located on Virginia’s historic “three notched road”, it was the obvious choice for this epicurean adventure. It’s changed relatively little from when it was first opened over 100 years ago. OK, maybe this was as much for me as it was for them. Busted.


Surprisingly, both were a little hesitant about it. The 12-year old, always more serious, introspective and not as adventurous, opted for her personal favorite, a root beer float. Good choice, my second favorite all-time soda fountain drink. The 8-year old, always inquisitive, was a willing subject and loves anything that also includes the words “ice cream.” This was no exception.

But I stray from the point. For a few moments, as we sat outdoors under the shade of a big oak, enjoying a zephyr breeze and sipping our delicious treats, I was transfixed. All other earthly sights and sounds paled as I immersed myself in the delight of the moment. Here I was, alone with my precious granddaughters enjoying a moment that even God might have envied.

It’s been a long, long journey from the little kid sitting at the counter at White’s drugstore to the somewhat worldly, yet still wide-eyed elder that was enjoying yet another ice cream soda. But somehow, for some reason, I had finally just tasted the perfect one!