|First posted on Facebook, "I Love Lake Park, Florida" Facebook page.|
"Let's go to the Dairy Belle for some ice cream," my dad would say.
"But I made some jello," Mom protested half-heartedly.
"Let the jello wait. Let's go get ice cream." He'd turn to me, all of three, to enlist my opinion which of course, was always, "Ice cream!"
We'd head out of the house to my father's convertible MG Midget and wait patiently while he put the top down. Big hands picked me up and deposited me in the carpeted well behind the only two seats in the vehicle. No car seats or seat belts in those days. As we drove off, I spent the fifteen minutes to the Dairy Belle with my face poking out beside the passenger seat. If I'd have been a dog, my ears would have been flapping in the wind. No flapping ears, but no dog ever had a grin as big as mine as the wind hit my face and messed with my hair.
The Dairy Belle (never just "Dairy Belle") was in Riviera Beach near the intersection of Federal Highway and Blue Heron Boulevard. Just a little building, it was covered with square tile in bright colors. We'd mosey up to the window and order our cones. I almost always got a vanilla soft serve and pleaded for a chocolate, cherry or butterscotch dip.
Cones in hand, we headed for the concrete picnic tables where we sat and dueled with the balmy summer evening. It was always a race to see if we were able to get more ice cream in our mouths than down our arms as the cones melted.
I was always washed down after finishing in those days and was placed back in the carpeted well for the trip home. I can still remember lying down in the well, slightly sticky despite the vigorous washing in the restroom. I could listen to the sound of my parents' voices and could feel the car as my dad put it through the gears to drive us home. It's odd the things that stick in your mind. The feel of that carpet is just as vivid today as it was then.
Good news for you, my faithful readers, for once I'm not telling you about a place that's disappeared. The Dairy Bell is still there and still serving ice cream. The concrete tables have been replaced, but there are still places to sit and enjoy your dessert. I can't guarantee that the cones taste as yummy as they did in 1962, but I'm sure they're just as cold and just as nice on a warm evening, which Florida has plenty of even in the winter.