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Dutch's Tasty Freeze

Pictures submitted by abandonedfreak (May 2011)

History submitted by gzuro104 (June 2012)

"While surfing the internet, I came upon a slide show of the ruins of Dutch's Tasty Freeze (Freezette). Dutch was my father. He and the family built that stand by hand in 1957 and opened it in 1958. If there are any questions about it, I will be happy to answer them. Since it's an old post I guess I should have included the address http://thewallshavet...s-tasty-freeze/ "

Jan 2013 - gzuro104 provided this picture of Dutch's when it was in business:

Umm, where to start??? Just a bit of background, Dutch's Freezette (originally Tastee Freeze) is located in a very rural part of North Central PA. Sitting on Rt. 219, Dutch's Freezette is just a meadow, a river, and a steep hill across from Allegheny National Forest. Although Rt. 219 is the major north/south highway in central PA, it is an aging two-lane cement/blacktop affair dotted with tiny clusters of widely scattered houses . In back of the Freezette about twenty yards back and up a rather steep hill sat our house, a pre-cut Cape Cod built by my father in 1949-50. Our house was one of a cluster of four houses sitting on one acre lots. Other clusters of approximately four-six houses were located one half mile south and one half mile north with nothing but hills and woods between our cluster and those other clusters. As I said before, it was very isolated. Between our lot and the next house south of ours was a vacant lot on which someone had started building a house, but had abandoned the idea after digging the foundation. Springs filled the vacant hole and was a haven for all sorts of aquatic pond life (bullfrog and peeper polliwogs and grown frogs, aquatic water bugs, small salamanders, mosquitoes, etc.. The pond was a biological "heaven" which provide me and my siblings with hours of fun and biology. Later on, much to our dismay, that foundation was filled in when a service station was built on the property and later, when the service station went "belly-up" my family purchased the garage and land next door. The land was used for a parking lot and the garage was converted into a do-it-yourself car wash.

How the Freezette was conceived and built is a bit of a long story but I've gone on long enough, so I will tell it at a later time if you want.

A bit more... My father worked in the paper mill in Johnsonburg. Wages were not all that high, and my father and mother did all kinds of things to augment the household income (picking ground pine for Christmas decorations, bartending, cutting and selling Christmas trees). At some point they had the idea of starting a drive in. There were no drive-ins along a thirty mile stretch of Rt. 219. To that end, in 1956, my father attended a winter conference hosted by Bradco Dairy (maker of soft ice cream mix and authorized Tastee Freeze dealer). He mentioned his interest in starting up a Tastee Freeze fancise (a mid-western version of Dairy Queen) to some officers of Bradco. They seemed mildly interested, but nothing more was discussed either then, or later. Then, unexpectedly, in Feb. or Mar. a cardboard tube full of blueprints for building a Tastee Freeze arrived in the mail. We assumed that the this meant that the Tastee Freeze company had given us the franchise. So, my father and mother took another mortgage out on our house, and in the spring began to build. In late spring, after the ground had solidified (winters are tough and long in that part of PA) bulldozers scraped away the front part of our property filling in the ditches that ran along the side of the highway, installing pipe and grill-covered concrete drains to make the parking lot. My father prepared the pad site, worked the cement and laid and cemented the cinder block back of the building. All summer after work and during vacations and weekends he would build the rest of the structure, mostly wood and glass. All this work was guided by the specifications of the blueprints - the front part of the roof had to be at such an angle, the glass enclosing the front room had to be at such and angle and with specific distances between the mullions, etc.I

My father did almost all of the work . I watching him as he figured out how to make sure the angle of the ceiling-to-floor length glass was correct, how he cut and installed the Formica tops on the counters (contact cement and dowels to be accurate), how to cut wood so that the front soffits would accurately follow the curve indicated in the bluepints , My father was quite handy. Although I was only 10 at the time I did help some,- mostly as a gopher, but also nailing the sheathing on the roof and tarring the roof. My mother worked on painting the building both inside and out. It wasn't easy work, but by winter, the building was enclosed. During winter some interior work was done, when the weather and temperature permitted. The building had no insulation and had so many air holes that the propane heater used up a large propane cylinder in two nights. After that we worked with a salamander heater that provided some heat, but not much. By late winter (Feb). we had the building about 3/4 complete. One day while my father was at work, a man knocked on our back door (in the country one always went to the back door, the front door was for formal use onlyl). At first, my mother was extremely suspicious, but this man ( a Mr. Avery) identified himself as the vice-president of Bradco Dairy. He just happened to be traveling past and saw this building built to the Tastee Freeze specs. He had no knowledge that a Tastee Freeze was being built there, or that we had gotten the confidential blueprints. He was mystified, apparently the blueprints were sent to us by mistake. What could he do? It was our building,on our property, built by our own hands. Eventually he offered us a franchise contract for five years, which we accepted. In actuality Mr. Avery was a good guy. He helped us get started helped us get the machines (used) and showed us how to run an ice cream business. Without his help that first year would have been even more hectic and grueling that it was.

A bit more... Well, we were all set to open in April of 1959. As a "gimmick" my father and mother had printed up special tickets for a free sundae that I distributed to all of my classmates in sixth grade (Wilcox Elementary). Many years later, mostly at reunions, those classmates would come up and relate how excited they were to get those tickets. I may be mistaken, but I think one or two said that they had not cashed them in and still had kept the tickets for a souvenir. We decided that our fare would consist of ice cream goods -cones 5, 10, 15,and 25 cent; sundaes 25 & 35 cents - milk shakes - 30 cents (?); banana splits - 50 cents; hamburgers - 30 cents, hot dogs -25 cents, pop (in bottles taken from an old time pop dispenser and which had a 2cent deposit attached to the sale) - 10 cents. Later, we just stopped charging deposit and left a few empty cases out front so that people could return the bottles when they were done - collecting the deposit was too much trouble and took too much time. If the prices sound outlandishly low remember at this time gas was selling for about 17 cents a gallon, a loaf of bread cost 29 cents, cigarettes were 30 cents a pack. I do remember that the 25 cent cones were so big that you had to tip them slightly to get them out of the sliding window.

As I said, our first day was in April (probably the 15th, the first day of fishing season - our usual opening date). I will remember that opening day to my dying day. It was a mixture of excitement, stress, despair, panic, confusion, joy -all rolled into one terrifying memory. The opening was a smashing success. - too successful! We were overwhelmed. Nothing that we could have done or imagined could have prepared us, physically, or emotionally, or mentally, for the sheer stress of seeing the lines of people waiting (sometimes patiently, sometimes not). Meanwhile, constant waves of new cars and new customers continuously pulled into the parking lot - it was never-ending. We were inexperienced at food service so each order was an ordeal - especially the more complex ones (food and ice cream). Supplies had to be replenished, the machines were overworked (so that the ice cream couldn't freeze up enough to serve), we had to replenish the supplies (cones, syrups, food) on the fly, we couldn't stop to adequately clean up the messes or mistakes... and people were waiting... and people were waiting... and people were waiting. Oh it was a horrible experience. It was like jumping out of an airplane while still packing your parachute and watching the ground get closer and closer, while you are still desperately packing that chute, not knowing when the ground was coming up... then you have some idea of the panic and terror that we all felt. The "rush" went on from opening 12:00 to closing 11:00 without let-up. We were all exhausted and emotionally spent... and then we had to fill up, clean up, and prepare for the next day (3 hour job). Our "take" that day was about $150. Not much in today's dollars, but we earned every cent of it. Little did we know that that's what our summers would be like for the next 20 or so years.


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