Thursday, March 05, 2009


The year: 1950 The town: Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts The place: Bendslev’s Luncheonette The Waitress: Me

This was my Senior year in High School and I’d worked at this small restaurant on weekends and after school for three years. It was a “Mom & Pop” operation owned by Mr. & Mrs. Perkins, who were also my neighbors.

Although we had a soda fountain we had no counter seats so it was more like a tearoom in atmosphere except for the clientel. The food was very good and inexpensive so the town workers and students were our best customers. We had a large share of children too since the only movie theater in town was located in the same building.

The Perkins’ also made their own candy. They would often leave the “upstairs” (the restaurant) to my care and they’d retire to the basement where they had a “candy” room. This was an air-cooled, enclosed area with marble counters and molds and they would pour, box and label the candy down there. Everyone in the restaurant would know when they were making a new batch because the aromas seemed to seep up through the floor and we would all groan with anticipation.

The menu never varied and I remember the daily lunch special was a “triple sandwich plate”...3 half slices of bread with three salad toppings, Egg, Ham & Chicken, served with a pickle and fruit in season. Of course we had a wide variety of sandwiches besides this but the busiest section was the soda fountain.

Frappes, Floats, Milkshakes, Malteds and all the ice cream delicacies were dispensed daily but the favorite, by far, was the “Black Cow”. This was my favorite too and I prided myself on concocting the best “Cow” in town. To make sure that the foam wouldn’t overflow the glass I would put a small amount of vanilla ice cream in the glass first, then slowly pour in the Root Beer. I would then, gently, place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. It would foam up and look great but it wouldn’t make a mess.

I loved that job and Mr. & Mrs. Perkins were very good to me. When I decided to transfer to Boston University for my last two years of college I lived at home and, once again, I worked for them. This was in 1953 and ‘54 and it was the perfect job for a college student. I ate well, made a fair salary and good tips and even kept up with the movies. But, best of all, I could have a “Black Cow” whenever I felt like it !


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I am mooing over that cow.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Anil P said...

I would've liked to try the 'black cow' for sure.

I could imagine the setting through your words.

12:05 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

I lived for a year with an aunt, my mother's sister, and when we went to the big town (Altoona, PA) we would always stop at one diner to get black cows. Yum--I can still taste them.
I would love to have one right now, but won't--off the chart on my carb control needs!
Thanks for the memory, though.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

I've had a root beer float but didn't know that it was called a black cow. Thanks Ginnie. I'm having a root beer right now.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I can still remember the smell and feel of a real dairy bar. Your restaurant was at least a little like that. With marble counters and those light green milk shaking machines and all the stainless steel, dairy bars had a feel about them. They smelled good too. It must have been the malt and ice cream.

I loved to get a banana split at an exorbitant cost of 35 cents. I would sometimes get two.

I don't know of any vintage ice cream parlors in existence. I guess they have gone the way of the 35 cent banana split.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

What an absolutely lovely story. I can smell the candy being made now..that is because when I go to our Early Settlement that is called Sovereign Hill, they make the hard lollies there fresh.
The Black Cow secret is now out of the bag! I did not know to put some ice cream in the cup first! We call it a "spider" here, but I will now affectionatly call is a "Black Cow".
I am always pleased when I have visited here Ginnie.
Oh, and just to let you Pa emailed me today. He tells me my cousin is with child..this will be her 6th baby, and my Pa's 17th Great Grand child. Isn't that wonderful? :)

4:31 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

I love root beer, but I don't think I've ever had a black cow. I'll have to remedy that and use your formula!
That sounds like the perfect job for a college student. I worked in a flower shop, part of the time.

6:51 AM  
Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Ginnie,
Loved my visit here. Bookmarked! I hope you don't mind but I "borrowed" your link for a post I did today celebrating Charles E. Hires. Thanks so much for sharing.

4:13 PM  

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