I learned today that the Friendly’s ice cream shop, in the town where I grew up, has closed for ever. I know it sounds insignificant — just another business falling to tough times etc., but Friendly’s was the bookmark in the volume of my life, and in the lives of almost everyone in our small-town slice of the American pie.
When we were silly girls in junior high we would ride our bicycles to Friendly’s, and sit on the grass by the front of the parking lot, licking dripping ice cream cones, or getting brain freeze from Fribbles, and giggling. The boys would sit on the split rail fence and watch the girls.
Friendly’s was where my mom would take me for regular Wednesday summer and school vacation lunches, and often my Aunt Barbara or Mrs. C would join us. I felt so grown-up and special to be included in their chit chat. We still periodically went there for lunch when I was a grown, married lady — right up until my parents moved down to Florida. I miss those days just like I miss those great women.
I remember going to Friendly’s with my dad after my sister got married and moved a thousand miles away. I was twelve. He thought ice cream would help. It didn’t, but I still remember that special visit and the mammoth Jim Dandy sundae he bought me, and then helped me finish. I miss him, too.
Once when my parents and I went to Friendly’s the light was out behind the Y in the sign. From that point on my dad always called it Friendls.
For many of us Friendly’s was the site of our first date, of our first kiss… Our first whispered words of love… Our first break up.
Sports victories, birthdays, honor rolls, and other small events of life were celebrated there.
I raised my kids two towns away from Pompton Plains. Conveniently nearby, we spent many a Thursday night having dinner at Friendly’s. It was a break for me, a tradition carried forward, and an opportunity to teach good restaurant behavior. We would play a coloring game on the backs of the paper placemats while we waited for food. “Who can draw a shark… A squirrel… A giraffe.” Often times my sweet boys would give their drawings to the waitress. I would echo those words spoken by my parents: “You won’t have ice cream unless you finish your dinner.” And then they (as did we) would get ice cream anyway.
So yes, I will miss the Friendly’s in Pompton Plains. It will be difficult driving past and seeing the it gone. What would ever fill our lives’ pages quite the same?
Image courtesy of Friendly’s, c. 2015.