The Parlour…

Strange to think a business in Jackson, Michigan has been weaving it’s way through our lives since 1986. John moved to Jackson about 4 months before the rest of our family. But the rest of us went to Jackson for a long weekends every couple weeks. Hubs was staying at a new hotel called Budgetel, which was right next door to the Holiday Inn. When we were looking for a house, John would move to the Holiday Inn so the kids 16, 11, and 7 had a pool to enjoy. During one of those trips we would discover an ice cream shop which was pretty close to being world renown.

 

Several name changes, but always great treats…

It was called The Parlour, but had gone through several name changes, owners, and renovations since it’s humble beginning in the 1930’s. It was first called Loud and Jackson’s, then Jackson’s All-Star Dairy. Finally settled on The Parlour not too many years before we moved to Michigan. Greyhound busses with touring day trippers from all over Michigan, Ohio and Indiana would spend the day in Jackson. One of the highlights was always a stop at The Parlour. After a football or basketball game, it was nigh onto impossible to buy your favorite dish of ice cream. The lines outside, regardless of the weather were a block long. The required waitress uniforms when we became regular customers were scandalous. Very short red skirts, black cummerbund and a white blouse. Did I mention, the skirts were really, really short? Probably 3 inches longer than girls wear them now.

 

What a crock I found for Shannon a few years ago…

 

Shannon got a job there a few months after we moved. The Parlour was still making their own ice cream, and it was delicious. They carried about 30 flavors, including chocolate chip, bubblegum, strawberry, butter pecan like everyone else. But it was their custom made sundaes, shakes, banana splits where they excelled. A waist high extremely long freezer full of 5 gallon round brown tubs to choose from. The girls making these amazing concoctions had to have the strongest wrists in the world. Constantly dipping humongous fist size scoops. And nothing they made ever consisted of only one dip. Nothing.

 

Shannon in Parlour uniform, 1987…

 

We lived in Jackson for 7 years. And frequented The Parlour every couple weeks. One night Shannon came home after working a long, busy winter night at The Parlour, crying. In her haste to get to the freezing car with her skirt not covering very much of her, she set her plastic cup of tips on top of the car-and drove off. She was devastated over the loss of this extra money by the time she realized what had happened and got home. (Which was more than her hourly wage) Hubs grabbed his flashlight, and the bawling teen and hiked back to where she had parked her car. They spent over an hour picking up her hard earned tips.

 

Words fail me…

 

Naturally, after we moved about 160 miles west of Jackson to North Muskegon in 1994, our trips to The Parlour would be few and far between. They must have really missed our piddly business because The Parlour fell on hard times too. To the dismay of the hordes of loyal ice cream aficionados, The Parlour closed. It would take some time, another remodeling job, but it would reopen again. Same name, now serving sandwiches, plus all the old favorites. I don’t believe they make their own ice cream anymore. But it’s still very good. John and I stopped there just a couple weeks ago after we had been house hunting. I ordered my Parlour favorite in the smallest size, which is still huge. The Pecan Turtle Sundae. Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and hot caramel topping, salted pecans, real whipped cream. And a cherry. In the dessert world, this is: To. Die. For. By the time we were half done with our ice cream, but all the way done with eating any more ice cream, we decided from here on out, we should order one speciality dish when we come. And share it. We’re both fine with that idea. (As long as it’s the Pecan Turtle Jr.).

 

Tell me this isn’t the cutest picture of Peyton-ever!!!

 

This is my fondest and funniest memory of a visit to The Parlour. Didn’t happen that long ago really. I’m almost positive Peyton was 3, thus Landon was 7 and it was fall of 2007. Tracey was teaching at Jackson and head basketball coach. Shannon was one year away from attaining her PH.D. So she was in school, an hour east, somewhere in Detroit. Don’t remember where Ariana was that afternoon, but she would have been about 16. Maybe an after school activity. Anyway, we were watching the 2 youngest ones. We decided as a special treat, we’d take them to The Parlour. This is kind of a dicey decision. Landon has an array of food allergies. Milk, eggs, beef, chocolate. Yikes. But The Parlour offered some fruit smoothies, like slushes, which he loves and can have. The Parlour’s seating is mostly swivel stools at a counter that snakes through a very large room. The last thing this grandma needed was Peyton taking a dive from one, onto the hard ceramic tile floor. Or rambunctious Landon running around like, well a 7 year old. So we chose one of about 4 booths they offer. John and I sat on the outside, him with Landon (now Drew to the rest of the world) me and PJ on the other side. We ordered.

 

The place for ice cream…

 

In saunterd a man a little older than us. With 2 very elderly women. The 3 of them plop in the booth directly across from us. They ordered as we got our ice cream. Talking, watching our adorable grandkids. (And who could blame or resist them)? We’re nearly done. So are they. The man gets up to pay. One of the ladies scoots out. (Not the right word. Try slowly inches) her way to the restroom. The remaining gal glances over occasionally. Smiling, watching us. Ever so slowly she maneuvers out of her booth. Stops smack dab in front of me. As God is my witness, she started what can only be described as a litany. A long litany.

 

Adorable Peyton, about 3…

 

“That’s my son Herb over there, paying the bill. He did the most thoughtful thing today. My name is Mabel, I’m 93. The lady who went to the restroom is my younger sister Mildred. She’s 90 and looks pretty good I think. Well she lives in Hamtramck. Do you know where that is? It’s over by Detroit, a good hour away.” (Peyton is now resting her jaw on the table. Landon however looks somewhere between amazed, dubious and sincerely troubled).

 
Landon (Drew to the rest of the world, 2007…

 

Mabel was not yet done with her conversation with me. “I haven’t seen Mildred for 5 years. So Mr. Thoughtful over there gets up this morning, drove ALL THE WAY OVER to Hamtramck. Just so we could spend the day together. We’ve just had the most wonderful time. Visiting and reminiscing about growing up. We thought the best ending to this fine day was some ice cream from The Parlour. Before Herb drives her all the way back to Hamtramck.” (Landon is now whispering furiously in grandpa’s ear across from us). Hubs just nods and puts his finger to his lips until Mabel decides it necessary to finally take a breath. (She’s like some long winded preachers I’ve heard in my lifetime-except she’s so stinking cute) Nope, still not quite the right moment to inhale.

 

Not particularly cheap, but worth the money…

 

“You got a real nice family,” Mabel exclaimed, smiling at Landon who’s still rather leary of this whole situation. “Are these your grandchildren?” “They sure are,” I bragged, “this is Peyton and her brother Landon. We’re watching them this afternoon while Daddy is teaching and Mom is in school. Which is very near where your sister lives.” Mabel glances over at the cashier. “Well I can see Herb and Mildred are waiting for me. You have a wonderful day with your little ones.” She finally takes a humongous gulp of air, smiles and pats me a couple times on the shoulder. Slowly toddles towards the door of her waiting, not so patiently, relatives.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever finished what I’ve ordered…

 

Landon is totally done whispering now. “Who was that lady? Is she a friend of yours grandma? Why did she stop here so long and talk so much?” I didn’t get a chance to answer. Grandpa took the lead. “No Landon, grandma has never seen that lady before. But this happens to her all the time.” (it does, I’m not ashamed to admit it) “As you get older, you’ll notice every time you’re with your grandma. Complete strangers, usually older folks will strike up a conversation with her. In a aisle at Meijer, at one of your daddy’s basketball games. Even here at The Parlour. You might as well learn this early and get used to it. You too Peyton. Your grandma is the old people whisperer.”…

 

A Dare to be Great. Wow…

 

 

 

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