Labor Day is nearly here, but there’s still time to get in summer’s last licks at a local ice cream stand.
On the warmest days, the lines at the Dairy Twist in Pembroke form early and only get longer as afternoon turns to evening. Youngsters and their parents, retirees and troops of teenagers linger at the outside windows to order their favorite flavors of hard and soft-serve ice cream.
The scene is much the same at J•J’s Dairy Hut on Chief Justice Cushing Highway (Route 3A) in Cohasset, Heidi’s Hollow Farm in Hanson and dozens of other stands around the South Shore.
In the high season of summer, an ice cream stand beckons young and old for a spell of time travel, back to the days before cell phones and iPods, when gas was 30 cents a gallon and the Top 40 hits were all on AM radio.
Dairy Twist owner Jack Nolet has cultivated that feeling since he reopened the venerable stand in 1995. He keeps a bubblegum-colored 1951 Ford panel van parked across the driveway from the stand, and he pipes ’50s rock ’n’ roll outside for what he calls “family nights out.”
The Dairy Freeze in Quincy still displays a weathered Eskimo sign, complete with whimsical messages such as “Beat the heat with something sweet.” J•J’s Dairy Hut conjures times past with a vintage Hamilton Beach frappe mixer and a mechanical cash register, but co-owner Lilly Sestito says few customers notice the memorabilia.
Young or old, the regulars and those who’ve pulled off the highway for their first visit are all there for the same thing – the next chance to order a flavor with years or decades of memories tucked into the taste.
“Everyone is happy when they’re buying ice cream,” Sestito said.
Everyone has their favorite local ice cream stand. Here are a few:
635 Adams St., Quincy
580 Washington St. (Route 58), Pembroke
Heidi’s Hollow Farm
165 Liberty St., Hanson
JJ’s Dairy Hut
140 Chief Justice Cushing Highway (Route 3A), Cohasset
170 Water St., Plymouth
94 Bedford St. (Route 18), Whitman