To the editor:
William Marvel’s recent Then & Now column on Mr. Blanchard was greatly appreciated, and I thought your readers might be interested in some more details, particularly on his ice cream operation.
Behind Blanchard Manor, there was a two-story, faded green-painted wooden garage-like structure with large front doors — the bottom floor was configured for ice-cream making, with stainless-steel equipment. I remember the boiler-looking freezer from which a tongue of delicious ice cream would flow into pint, quart and gallon containers.
There was a big frozen storage room where he put the newly poured containers, where they would harden and remain until delivered or picked up. And a refrigerated room for storing the ice cream mixture. Around the space were racks that contained flavorings, sauces and nuts that he added to the product.
The upper story was used for dry storage — containers, spoons, cartons, etc. It was a big, gloomy space that was perfect to be in when it rained as the raindrops drummed loudly on the tin roof.
There was an interior staircase from the bottom floor to the second, but there was also an external staircase on the back of the building that went up to a tiny door that led into the second story.
For some reason, that external open staircase fascinated us, and we climbed it often.
We would try to visit Mr. Blanchard when he was making ice cream so we could get samples — he would take the covers of the pints and fill them with newly churned ice cream and then give them to us with little flat wood spoons.
Although we were treated to ice cream cones at Howard Johnson’s on Route 16 from time to time, those cones never matched the quality of Blanchard’s treats.
Sometimes on a hot summer day here in Virginia, my mind goes skipping back to those days in North Conway with my cousins — and memories of Mr. Blanchard’s ice cream often surface.
The building where Blanchard made his ice cream was right beside my Nana and Grandpa Reny’s house, and I stayed there during the summers of 1943-49, having some of the best times of my life with my cousins Leona (Nonnie) and Peggy, Uncle Tom’s daughters, who were living with our grandparents.
We were inseparable — playing in and around the Maine Central Railroad Station, also very near, putting coins on the tracks to be flattered by the train and then making them into rings; swimming in the river; frogging in the creek; visiting the North Conway playground and its slides, jungle gym and wading pool; riding the Skimobile on Cranmore Mountain; berry picking along the train tracks; and on and on and on.
I slept on the living room sofa, and every two or three hours, it seemed, a Maine Central freight train with a hundred cars would thunder by, shaking the whole house.
(Second son of George and Ida Reny, Wilder Street, Conway)