The Roads We Travel Down Memory Lane

Trips down memory lane are always a mixed blessing. As folks who grew up in Rye reminisce about their childhood memories at locally-owned small businesses, I find myself reminiscing about ice cream at Saywells, only my memories take me back to Hudson, Ohio.

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Published June 7, 2012 5:15 PM
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a3icecreamTHUMBTrips down memory lane are always a mixed blessing. As folks who grew up in Rye reminisce about their childhood memories at locally-owned small businesses, I find myself reminiscing about ice cream at Saywells, only my memories take me back to Hudson, Ohio.

By Holly Kennedy

a3icecreamTrips down memory lane are always a mixed blessing. As folks who grew up in Rye reminisce about their childhood memories at locally-owned small businesses, I find myself reminiscing about ice cream at Saywells, only my memories take me back to Hudson, Ohio.

Over Memorial Day our family returned to Hudson, the town where I grew up, for a family reunion. Located halfway between Cleveland and Akron, it is in an area historically known as the Connecticut Western Reserve. Connecticut, like several other states, gave up western land claims in exchange for federal assumption of its Revolutionary War debt in the late 1700’s. Hence, my hometown looks like a combination of Kent and Litchfield, Connecticut, complete with two village greens, a stately brick clock tower over 100 years old, and a band shell.

A classic bedroom commuter community, I remember it mostly as far away from anything, with no movie theaters or restaurants to speak of. If you didn’t have a car you were sunk, as there certainly was no public transportation. But I grew up with lots of traditions, the same as children have here. We had Halloween window painting, an annual house tour, and a Memorial Day parade. My favorite was getting ice cream at Saywells drugstore.

The parade is still there, only bigger and better than I remember it. In fact, it’s such a tradition that my London-based brother and his family planned their entire vacation around attending the parade, and so we too joined the festivities.

a3clock While some traditions survive, Saywells did not. It is still surprising to return to my hometown and see a different shop in its place. Saywells was the institution that our lives revolved around. Probably every single boy who ever played Little League got ice cream after the game at Saywells. We all did. It was a rite of childhood.

The dress shop next door is still going strong, run by the daughter of the lady who ran it when I was a child. I talked to the current owner, who knew my family, my parents, and was up to date on the latest gossip and family news. The dress shop still sells espadrilles 40 years later to a new generation, and one of my daughters bought a pair. But I was nostalgic for Saywells ice cream.

In its place however, was another family-run business called Hatties. I heard they sold ice cream, and had kept the old-fashioned ice cream counter and the original ruby-colored counter stools. I was skeptical, so I asked the dress shop owner for her opinion. Should I go in? Was the ice cream as good as I remembered? Would I be disappointed, or discover there was some vestige of the old Saywells that I could relive? “Try it,” she said.

Turns out the young new owners are devoted to quality ice cream. The original owners merged their drugstore with a chain, and left much of the ice cream furnishings for the next generation. They saved the history of the place so when old timers like me come in they remember where they sat as youngsters.

Our family of six adults and nine children congregated at Hatties’ ice cream counter and took over the place. Root beer floats, double scoop cones, milkshakes,

brownie sundaes, and whipped cream abounded. We looked at each other and smiled. We were still eating ice cream at the same place we ate as children. We enjoyed the Memorial Day parade, and a new tradition — eating ice cream at Hatties

It wasn’t the same, but the devotion to tradition continues and the sense of history is still there. Let’s hope for the same in Rye.

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