Do you recognize the restaurant pictured above? How many times did I walk past that curvy counter to find an empty booth in the back? Dad would slide in across the table and we’d order Awful Awfuls. Regular size for him, Junior for me. Or maybe we’d order ice cream cones to go one late afternoon in summer.
My dad and my godmother both worked here when they were teenagers. Or maybe it was around the time I was born. They were basically teenagers then anyway. I like to picture them in their green and white striped uniforms, taking orders from the regulars and serving banana splits.
Growing up, my great-grandma Bobo always had a gallon of Newport Creamy ice cream in her freezer. She would re-use the giant plastic bin with its signature stripes to freeze her famous baked beans or Portuguese soup. I never thought much of it, taking for granted how lucky I was to always be able to have a bowl of ice cream whenever I wanted at her house. I think chocolate chip was her favorite. But recently I came to the realization that she bought those gallon sized bins out of necessity. It must have been the most efficient way to offer the cold summertime treat to my dad and his six sisters when they were little. Once they grew up and didn’t ask for ice cream quite as much, the habit must have stuck.
Of the three locations on the island where I grew up, the one in downtown Newport was my favorite. Their website says it was called the Long Wharf location. It was just a few blocks from the Newport Yacht Club, where my grandpa kept his boat the Mermaid’s Tavern. I remember running over with my cousins to grab a quick ice cream while he was getting the boat ready to embark on a Fourth of July float in the harbor with the whole family on board for the fireworks show. Or maybe we were setting off for a day at Rocky Point, an adventurous journey to Block Island, or perhaps just a midsummer’s morning cruising around Narragansett Bay for a little ocean swim and snorkel. Wherever it was, it was surely a happy memory in the making. And it was always just ever so slightly happier, with an ice cream.
If you’re taking a trip to Rhode Island this summer, be sure to find a Newport Creamery. There are nine locations throughout the state. I’m planning to go for dinner at the original Middletown restaurant when I’m in town next week. I’ll probably get a hamburger and a chocolate Awful Awful. Junior of course.