Stuckeys

That’s what Dad would look for when we were on road trip back in the 1960’s. From Illinois to Virginia and without a GPS, he would get worried if he couldn’t find one because they were located off major highways. One time, we stopped during a storm and Dad was so excited how friendly staff was to its customers. He liked the pecan roll even though I wasn’t much into nuts at the time. But Stuckeys was a convenience store and gift shop too so we could get everything we needed including Texaco gas. On road trips, I always looked for souvenirs with my name, Karla with a K, never found them back then.

W.S. “Sylvester” Stuckey, Sr. founded Stuckey’s as a roadside pecan stand along Highway 23 in Eastman, GA in 1937. With his truck and the loan (from his grandmother), W.S. drove around the countryside and bought pecans from local farmers to sell at his stand, along with local honey and souvenirs. His wife, Ethel, added her delicious homemade candies. It’s true popularity took off in the 1960’s 368 stores in over 30 states, each offering kitschy souvenirs, clean restrooms, Texaco gas, and candy. Stuckeys had merged with Pet Milk in 1964 and the founder died in 1977. That same year, Illinois Central Industries bought Pet Milk and began to close Stuckey stores.

In 1984, W.S. “Billy” Stuckey, Jr., son of the founder and a five-term Congressman from the 8th District of Georgia, acquired Stuckey’s and the company began to grow. In 2019, Billy’s daughter  Ethel “Stephanie” Stuckey took over the company and in 2020 acquired Front Porch Pecans and RG Lama became President. In January of 2021, Stephanie and R.G. acquired Atwell Pecans, The Orchards Gourmet, and Thames corporations.

Today, they have 65 franchised retailers. However, they have an amazing online business with over 200 retailers involved over many decades. Though for me and my dad, it was a roadside vacation all by itself….the place where everyone had to stop.

Chicken Soup of the Soul: Navigating Eldercare and Dementia

I did not even know when I would begin reading the book of 101 true stories, including one of my own, describing the written contributions of those who have experienced dementia and eldercare in some way or another. Many writers are family detailing the devastating effects of illness through caretaking. I didn’t know if I wanted to experience the depression that stories like these usually create. I was on vacation! But this week, I began to read and the first narrative was absolutely beautiful; eloquently comparing the decline of a mother to Alzheimer’s like an Autumn tree. From that story on, I could not put this book down and was truly honored to become a member of the Chicken Soup of the Soul family.

Chicken Soup of the Soul shares some amazing stories of hours, days, years, and sometimes a lifetime, of navigating the world of eldercare and dementia. Stories talk about how eldercare can be like a disconnecting phone line but not steal one’s spirit. They share their experience of that last, gleaming smile of a loved one. Stories relate how choices of new places are never easy but the impressive communities of assisted living are available.

Some stories help us empathize that special walk down memory lane. They talk of the loss of one parent while the other completely declines in health and it takes a village of caregivers to help. How simple notebooks, coloring books, special games, phones or IPads have made a difference. Stories share the beauty of music, projects created and, ultimately, reinventing purpose. Humor is related in stories about missing teeth and snoring. Many stories just focus on having a good day and embracing love.

But, most important, they really inspire support and hope in helping readers who may feel alone while empowering them in their role as a caregiver. Chicken Soup of the Soul: Navigating Eldercare and Dementia is currently available for purchase at a variety of retailers. Check out there website for more information. I have spent many years as a Chicken Soup of the Soul reader and since there beginnings, they have published over 250 books. However, I had forgotten their motto, Changing Your World One Story At Time…..that they have truly done…once again.

Dairy Queen

By Caryl Clem

Hot summer days or nights call for a trip to Dairy Queen for the famous “concrete” served flipping bottoms side up to prove thickness. A tradition started when a customer kept challenging Ted Drewers to make his shakes thicker.  In 1959, Ted tipped the container upside down to prove the ultimate thickness had been reached. Some places will not charge for these if this trick is forgotten. When an Oreo cookie was crushed into a Blizzard in 1985, a legend was born. Sales climbed to over 175 million in the first year.  A farmer, J. F. McCullough and his son perfected the soft serve creation in 1938 now the largest seller of soft serve products worldwide.

In Kankakee, Sherb Noble, owner of a small ice cream shop agreed to execute a sample run of their product to gauge popularity. On a steamy August afternoon the ploy, “All You can eat for 10 cents “brought so many eager customers storming into the small shop, Noble was afraid of crowd damage. After surviving the 1,600 customers, Noble made plans to sell this new product.  Later a freezer was found made by Harry Otis that poured the soft serve treat efficiently.  J.f. McCullough has been quoted for saying, “the cow is the queen of the dairy business.” thus the name “Dairy Queen”.  In 1940, Noble opened the first Dairy Queen store in Joliet.

The first logo for Dairy Queen was a Dutch girl with pigtails.  Next logo, Dennis the Menace reigned for over 20 years until he was considered outdated to be retired in 2002.  The most important feature, the menu. This year the Dreamsicle Dipped Cone came back on the 2021 Spring menu, 3 new shake flavors, Choco Hazelnut Chip Shake, Mint Chip Shake, Raspberry Chip shake, Tropical Lemonade Twisty Misty Slush  (mango, lemon lime and lemonade) plus they reinvented the  1955 Dilly Bar  option that is gluten and dairy free. An array of soft serve favorites and (charcoal grilled food by Brazier’s at many locations will satisfy hunger and your sweet tooth.

Summertime food good for you and others because Dairy Queen’s charitable work is  done through International Dairy Queen Corporation which donates to Children’s Miracle Network. In the over 5,000 stores there are franchises that are independent. I am ready to try the new Tropical Lemonade Twisty Misty Slushy.

Dog N Suds

By Caryl Clem

The lure of extra money propelled 2 university music professors Don Hamacher and Jim Griggs to open a stand in 1953.  Every college campus offered cheap food hotspots; University Of Illinois in Champaign was no exception. A nothing fancy, DogNSuds Drive In, serving dogs and root beer evolved into a 68 year old company.  How?  Legendary DogNSuds was a lucky merger between a satisfied older lady customer offering cash support and an unforgettable logo. Read on for the real story……

“ Brother, what was your most memorable experience?”  He sat back in his chair, his eyes brightening.   He started, “This is a story not in print but true. I played a part in the DogNSuds logo formation.  A contest was held, the winner would be the emblem for Don and Jim’s growing company venture. Professors I knew.  My fraternity roommate drew the final draft of our combined ideas.   First, an animal Americans’ love had to be selected.  Almost in unison, several young men shouted,” A Dog” !  Perfect connection to hot dogs on the menu. Time debating on what action the dog would do. No agreement until a collection of ideas resulted in a logical conclusion, a dog carrying a tray of food.  My roommate and I exchanged ideas drawing the image, The Winner !.  The intensity of team spirit that night I will never forget.”

The first logo, Disney felt infringed on their characters, so the dog went through a face lift.  During the age of muscle cars, a trip to the drive in was an event showing off your vehicle . The Ingleside DogNSuds  started the practice of “Saturday Night Cruising”.  A magazine commented that by the 1960’s if the town had a stoplight, it had a Dog N Suds. Beginning in 1963, 2 locations still open today are: Richmond, IL. that remains a small family run business  and Grayslake , IL .under new management of the 5th owner.

After declining  sales during the 80’s DogNSuds was sold to Van Dame company in 1991 ; eventually all rights  went  to the current company TK&C’s LLC. The joy taking a trip to one of those Drive Ins will never fade for me. Celebrating summer, cruising, munching  on a Coney dog while sipping frothy stick to your lips root beer. Memories carried in the heat of a summer breeze. Take a trip back in time by reading a book by one of the Cofounders, Don Hamacher: The Journey Through The Life Of Don Hamacher released in 2012.

Romper Room

My interest wasn’t as high for this as other shows beginning in 1953-1992 actually moving its broadcast studios from Baltimore to Chicago. Each show opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and another studio audience of children rotated every two months. I was sometimes focused on Mr. Do Bee or Don’t Bee and they would recite God is great when eating cookies and milk. But it was always the end of the broadcast when the hostess would look through a “magic mirror”—actually an open frame with a handle, the size, and shape of a hand mirror—and recite the rhyme, “Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play? I see Jerry, Kathleen, Jimmy, Julie, Tommy, Bobby…never me….Karla was a strange name. I guess children were encouraged to mail in their first names which I did not know.

For me the best hostess was, Jean Harrington from Boston in 1964 that I remember the most. She divorced Bill Harrington in the ’70s and was last known to be an editor at a lifestyle magazine in southwest Florida. She re-married and became a Durkee living in Naples, Florida.

The national version was presented by Nancy Terrell the first hostess of Romper Room when Romper Room was seen on ABC-owned and operated stations throughout the United States in locales that did not have their own hostesses. Sources claim that her daughter took over as Ms. Sally. Nancy died of cancer in 1997.

In Chicago, Romper Room debuted on WGN in 1954, and ran until 1960. From 1961 to 1962, a nationally syndicated version aired. The local Romper Room returned a year later and ran from 1963 to 1975. Three of the Chicago hostesses were “Miss Rosemary” Rapp, “Miss Beverly” Marston-Braun  and “Miss Elizabeth” Trench.

In 1981, the format of Romper Room was overhauled and re-titled Romper Room and Friends. One hundred syndicated versions were taped in Baltimore with Miss Molly as host. At that point, they no longer used teachers.