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Good memories of days gone by

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My current summer read is Stephen King’s novel “11-22-63,” the story of a man who travels back in time to stop the John Kennedy assassination and change the course of history. The book is a stretch of the sci-fi imagination, but is also somewhat of a departure for King in that the usual horror aspect is missing.

What I’ve enjoyed, in addition to the story line, is the glimpse of the much simpler and less complicated life lived in the early 1960s.

One of the scenes takes place in a soda shop where the main character experiences what real root beer, served in a frosted glass mug, tastes like in the days before preservatives, machines and mass production get a hold of the stuff. That brought back memories of a special place from that era in my past — Jack Spratt Ice Cream in the Miller section of Gary.

Coming back from the beach or just enjoying a summer night out with my parents or friends, I can shut my eyes and remember escaping the heat of the street and walking into the cool smells of dairy, chocolate, crisp cones and assorted flavors and toppings. The ice cream was full-fat — none of this low-fat, no-sugar-added nonsense. And, our shakes, sundaes and cones always came with a small cup of water, served in a cone-shaped paper cup stuck in a metal holder. For some weird and unfathomable reason, that was my favorite part and, to this day, when I eat ice cream, I always include a drink of water.

Good memory! What’s yours?

Rich Pushkar, Highland: I grew up on the west side of Gary and there was a tiny mom-and-pop grocery store on the corner of our block that sold penny candy to the neighborhood kids. There was barely room to move around in the store so they had this hinged window that opened to the street. Every Friday night after dinner, Pop would come home from work and give my brother and me our allowances — a dime. On Saturday morning, we’d be standing, waiting, for that window to open. Three cents and we’d each have a pocketful of treats. No gourmet chocolate in those days. It was pure junk and we loved it!

Joan Turlich, Winfield: Although I wasn’t Catholic, in those days I remember joining in the Catholic Youth Organization social events in our neighborhood. There were dances, picnics, outings, sports. That’s how we spent our summers, with kids our own age, safe and off the streets, and having fun. Looking back, I appreciate how the group opened its doors to all and made everyone feel welcome and special. I have a lot of good memories from those days.

Claudia Zelenko, Dyer: Going to my first Beatles concert in 1964 at what was then the Chicago Amphitheatre. We were barely 15 and my parents put us on a South Shore train to the Loop, gave us cab money and said they’d pick us up at the train stop at the end of the evening. We really didn’t have a lot of street smarts so it’s miracle we even found our way, but we did. That’s not something parents would let their kids do today, but that was a different time and place, and it sure became a wonderful memory for me.



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