Happy Father’s Day! Adventures in the ice cream freezer case

Friendly's Butter Crunch Ice Cream

The carton of Friendly’s Butter Crunch ice cream I found in Shop Rite in Brookfield, CT on Father’s Day in 2013.

When I was little, my dad used to love to take me out for ice cream. Most of the time it was the Carvel down in the North Street Shopping Center, or the Carvel on Route 7 in my home town New Milford, or the Swensen’s in Plumtrees Plaza off Exit 8 in Danbury. But the best place, the really special one that we only got to go to on special occasions, was the Friendly’s—because they had my favorite flavor of all time, Butter Crunch.

Butter Crunch—sweet and buttery with chunks of something like toffee in it—wasn’t as popular as its relative, Butter Pecan. Even when it was a “new” flavor, it was rare if you found it someplace other than Friendly’s.

On Father’s Day in 2013, I was having a bad day. My father had passed back in 2008, but for some reason, I was really angry at him on this particular day for something he’d done to me I hadn’t forgiven him for (don’t ask me what, because I don’t remember now). I was buying my groceries at Shop Rite when I did something I never do: I passed through the ice cream section to get to the cheese (I stay out of this section of the store so I’m not tempted). Something caught my eye on an end cap.

It was a bin of Friendly’s Ice Cream, which apparently was on sale that week. Big deal, right? Except for one lone gallon that was sitting directly on top of the otherwise perfectly-stacked-to-make-an-even-surface cartons.

It was Butter Crunch.

I was suddenly emotional. Holy crap, I haven’t seen this ice cream in years. In fact, I’ve forgotten all about it. The memories of all of our trips to Friendly’s came flooding back. Happy times.

It was almost like he heard me bitching and popped in to say “I’m sorry” in a way that only he could.

Of course, I bought the ice cream. When it was gone, I went back to the store to get more, only to find none.

I’ve written about signs from those we love on this blog before. Dad has dropped in every once in a while, and in very blatant ways that really can’t be ignored.

There was his Robert Frost thesis that I’d been desperate to find for years that just magically turned up one day in a place I’d looked several times (you can read about that in a previous blog post here: https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/2011/02/17/the-things-that-come-back-to-you/). I have an entire private journal entry of things that happened shortly after he died as well, but honestly, it’s long and boring and I’m not going to put it all here; just trust me. And most recently? He showed up again.

Even though my father wasn’t super-supportive of my writing career (honestly, he wasn’t—I suspect now it’s just because he really didn’t want me to have to live the torturous life of an artist), The Shadows Behind’s release stirred in me the desire to have both he and my mom at my release party. I really missed them, more than I did on my wedding day, in fact; I know that no matter what they felt about me and my writing, they would have celebrated with me anyway.

Four hours before the party, I had been on the phone with a friend, lamenting that they couldn’t be there, but especially the fact that my dad couldn’t be there. I was told, “he’s there, and he’ll let you know.”

An hour later, my sister showed up after a long drive down from Massena, New York (several hours from my house). In the midst of the scramble to get the tables set up and organized and get dressed and all of that, she said, “hey, can we just take a breather for a minute? I was cleaning out a closet and want to know if you’re interested in taking some of the things I found.”

They were things that had belonged to my parents. There was the small trinket box that used to live on my dad’s dresser with a few pins and things in it. But what struck me was the other item she brought.

They were the note cards from my dad’s research on the aforementioned Robert Frost thesis.

Shivers shot up my spine. Seriously? What told my sister to give me this particular item on this particular day? My friend had been right—Dad was there. And he let me know, in no uncertain terms, that he was there.

Index card research notes

Dad’s research notes for his Robert Frost thesis.

As far as Friendly’s Butter Crunch ice cream is concerned? Well, since that one incident, I’ve only been able to find it a few times—and every single time, there’s only one loan container of it, sitting very obviously on the top of the freezer case where I can see it. I always want to buy more than one, but when I root through the entire bin, I can never find a second.

I take that as him, just saying hello.

Well, hello back, Dad. And Happy Father’s Day.

How the butter crunch ice cream usually looks

This is typically how I find the ONE container of butter crunch. I found this one in May of 2016.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, served as a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, has judged both writing and grant competitions and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info: www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

Posted on June 16, 2019, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I loved reading this- messages from loved ones for sure.

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