Close to Dark

Hank Nuver

When Gosia and I moved to Union City, Indiana, we went to an antiques and nostalgia store at 236 N. Columbia Street.

The building has served many owners over time. It housed a social club, a dry cleaner, a vacuum cleaner shop, a Red Cross relief office, a shoe store, and even a Westinghouse appliance store.

As a sales stimulus in 1948, you could buy a newfangled refrigerator with a freezer. The owner sent three dozen packages of Birds Eye frozen vegetables for free.

We bought an antique bookcase with a glass front at a bargain price.

This bookcase is now bursting with the names of favorite writers John Steinbeck, Jack London and Robert Frost.

The store sold last year. It opened last September as The Motley Shoppe.

Half of the store is devoted to collectibles, antique furniture and cool kitsch.

The other half is an ice cream shop.

In the interest of humorous investigative journalism, my wife Gosia and I decided to look into this business.

Thus, on the last hot, muggy Sunday, we attended the Sundae School with co-owner Dina Livingston.

The first thing I noticed was the white board.

“Free samples,” it read.

“Ah, the price is right,” I said to Gosia.

“What’s the sensation?” We asked Dean.

She and husband Kleio run the business with the help of their children. I call this family the Motley Gang.

The cafeteria in the store is large. White tables with red chairs provide plenty of seating space.

Every seat was taken.

The owners will soon build a recreation area outside.

Dina, a cheerful woman dressed in a T-shirt and a rag, is perfect for running a dual business.

Upbeat and smiling, Dina and her 11-year-old son, Lilind, not only fed a sold-out ice cream connoisseur, but also bargained with a buyer haggling over the price of antiques.

“Everything happens at the same time,” she said, smiling, and hurried to take another family order for ice cream.

The idea to start a dairy business belonged to her husband.

Kleio Livingston, originally from Ohio in Union City, “wanted to try something interesting.”

Opening an ice cream shop has “always been his dream,” Dina said.

They signed a contract with a franchise called “Chocolate Shop”.

The logo depicts a happy Holstein sipping on a cone.

The franchise dates back to the opening of one store in 1962 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Over the years, the franchise has included over 100 flavors. The Union City store has 40 flavors.

Milk deficiency? No problem. The shop serves Italian ice cream.

Several people at the Wisconsin headquarters are inventing new ice cream flavors and attaching catchy names to them, such as Yippee Skippee, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, and Heaps of Love.

Dina and Kleio’s shop serves coconut almond bliss and strawberry cheesecake.

Ingredients include a selection of Oreos, cookie dough, pecans, brownie pieces, fruit, nuts, and garlic.

Just kidding, no garlic.

Although not a bad idea. You can add a spoonful of vodka with potato peels and call it “Putin’s Breath” or “Vlad is worse.”

The moment of truth has come. It’s time to order

I decided. I was going to try two scoops in a waffle cone.

My life philosophy is quite simple. “A man cannot live on soybean burgers and tofu scrambles.”

It’s true that Gosia is putting me on a diet.

But, I contend, I am entitled to extended calories.

In any case, I’m not one of those who count calories.

Not when my wife counts them for me.

The sign in the store promises: “Not low fat, low calorie and generally low calorie!”

I have always believed in signs.

But what to order? It was an instant choice.

I call myself a traditionalist. Gosia defines the term as “confirmed fuss”.

So, I ordered plain vanilla and Zanzibar signature chocolate.

The chocolate was dark, like William Barr’s smile.

I apologized to Deanna for my lack of adventure. “I always get the same taste.”

“No problem,” she said. “Many people do.”

Both chocolate and vanilla are delicious.

Gosia, the accountant, did some math.

My Double Cone pleasure was 88g total carbs, 84g net carbs, 28g fat, 14g protein, and 657 calories.

The cost of this flavor of Nirvana was just under $5. I threw the change in the tip jar.

Gosia moved on to receive a cone.

She just took a picture of the store.

Which is very sad because she always lets me lick her horn.

“Canonization is always ahead of you after death,” I promised Gosia.

It wasn’t very smart.

My wife threatened to sign me up for the 12 step Zanzibar Chocolate program.

Hank Nuver is a writer, columnist and playwright. He and his wife Gosia live on the Indiana side of the Union City border. The points of view expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these views or the author’s independent work.

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