From the Editor: Ice Cream and Other Surprises

Ask anyone to tell you about going for ice cream as a kid, and you will always get an answer. From Carvel to Dairy Queen, Bomb Pops to Dilly Bars – everyone has a fond memory of sweltering summers and sweet relief.

My favorite memory involves summer at my grandparents’ place in northwest Missouri — 100-plus acres of pasture, creek and freedom. My grandmother taught piano, and it was my grandfather’s task to keep the grandkids quiet and preferably out of the house when her students came.

Often his solution was a Jeep ride to Taitsville for ice cream and a cold Coca-Cola. A bustling town at one time, all that was left by the mid-‘70s was a weathered country store and a house across the road.

I recall the store’s dark interior, the smell of wood smoke and the handful of old-timers playing checkers. But most of my attention was focused on the soft drink machine that held frosty glass bottles of orange Nehi and the ice cream bars Grandpa doled out to my siblings and me.

I never saw the frozen raccoon skins nestled next to the Nestle Crunch Bars.

“It is totally true — raccoon skins,” swore my cousin Heather in a group chat with three of my cousins. Crowd-sourcing this tall tale seemed the only way to get to the truth.

“There was a barrel where snakes lived too!”

Say what?

“There’s a bunch of rattlers and copperheads around there,” her brother agreed. “Live venomous snakes fetch good money.”

Heather pinged back: “Who is out there purchasing live venomous snakes?!”

After much silliness about the market value of snakes, the bounty on raccoon skins and the value of truth in a good story, we signed off for the night.

The next morning, after consulting an expert, Heather had this update.

“My mom said there was only one freezer case, so the skins HAD to be in with everything,” she wrote. “She remembers the snake barrel vividly. You fed the snake in through a little hole, and when it was full, it was sold and shipped off on the train.”

So, thanks to my cousins, my sweet story about ice cream became one about Snakes on a Train.

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