American Cuisine: The Creme Stop

In this photo: a steak hoagie with tomato dressing, a black raspberry milkshake, and onion rings.

I've been wanting to go home to visit my parents for a while, and on this day, I finally did! The weather was to be mild, and not precipitating. So I sent my parents an email a few days in advance, and when they replied letting me know they would be home, my husband and I scheduled a visit.

We left our house in mid-morning and arrived just in time for a nice lunch from the local Creme Stop, which is - and always has been - quite a fixture in McAlisterville. It's a very rural area, and my parents' house is actually a few miles from town, back on Shade Mountain, where I grew up.

I couldn't find a history of it online, but the Creme Stop used to be called Jim & Betty's, back in the day. It sits along route 35, about 15 minutes from where my parents live. The place is famous for its soft-serve ice cream. Every weekend there are special flavors; this weekend, one of them was black raspberry, which I decided I had to try.

They also serve a pretty robust menu of fried food and sandwiches, including french fries and onion rings, as well as the steak hoagie pictured in this photo, which (unless you specify otherwise) is served cold and comes with tomato dressing.

Some of my fondest memories from childhood involve the Creme Stop. On a summer's evening, my dad might tell us all to get in the car because we were going out for ice cream! Sometimes we little ones traveled in our jammies; if we didn't have to get out of the car, what did it matter?

He'd drive one of the back roads to get there, taking his time, sometimes spotlighting deer in the fields along the way. We'd see the bright golden shining orbs that were their eyes, and we'd count them. How many deer did we see? Did any have antlers? How many?

And on the last day of school each year, the buses would stop at the Creme Stop on the way home so that every child could get some treats. My mother would make sure my siblings and I had enough money for a treat: a tiny bag of Middleswarth potato chips, a lime slushee, an ice cream cone, a milkshake. Happy memories.

There were other fun parts to this day besides the food. Before my meal, I made a quick visit to the little pond below my parents' house, checking for amphibians. I did not spot any frogs but saw lots of amphibian eggs. And on the drive home after our visit, my husband and I stopped for a quick walk at Colyer Lake, where we saw and heard a common loon. (Not so common around here!)

It was a good day, full of fun things, and it is always a delight to visit my parents, who will be 87 this year (happily married 67 of those years). To remember who I am and where I came from. And of course, to enjoy some treats from a hometown favorite: the Creme Stop. Who says you can't go home?

The song: Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons, with My Hometown.

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