Sundae Times

Need a hot chocolate mocha or buttered pecan waffle cone with your history lesson this festive holiday season? What about a grilled cheese, that can quite literally melt your face, so good? Then take a quick drive with me up to the mountains (45 minutes out of the city, all inclines). Zooming past all the city lights, smog, pollution, and work-life stress lies a small little town that appears (on the surface) right out of a Hallmark movie. Picturesque, quaint, canopies of trees, and a Norman Rockwell-ish village from another time; off to the right of the freeway (Highway 50).

“There’s two kinds of people, them goin’ somewhere and them goin’ nowhere.”

“Placerville is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills where U.S. Route 50 crosses State Route 49.” “According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.8 square miles (15 km2), over 99% of its land.” “The population was 10,389 at the 2010 census, up from 9,610 at the 2000 census.” “After the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in nearby Coloma, California, by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville was known as Dry Diggin’s after the manner in which the miner’s moved cartloads of dry soil to run water to separate the gold from the soil.” ~ Wikipedia

“There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!”

“Later in 1849, the town earned its most common historical name, “Hangtown”, because of the numerous hangings that had occurred there”. “However, there is debate on exactly how many numerical lynching’s occurred in the town”. “The town had no police force (in 1849) and five immigrants attempted robbery of a Mexican gambler”. “Of the five immigrants, two Frenchmen and one Chilean were known wanted men, and they were not given any trial, instead they were hanged on an oak tree on Main Street by a mob”. “The name “Hangtown” stuck after that event” and existed as its nickname up until this year! Voted out! (*gasp*)

“On a warm summer’s evening
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with a gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-staring
Out the window at the darkness
‘Til boredom overtook us
And he began to speak”

“By about 1850, the temperance league and a few local churches had begun to request that a more friendly name be bestowed upon the town”. “The name was not changed until 1854 when the City of Placerville was incorporated”. “At its incorporation, Placerville was the third largest town in California”. “In 1857 the county seat was then moved from Coloma to Placerville, where it remains today”. The town appears unchanged and at night creepy, spooky, and eerily ghostly; as history comes to life, once the sun goes down. Bring a jacket, there’s a frosty chill in the air. Just know, demon’s “hide-out” where it’s the coldest.

“He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowing what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind my saying
I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of your whisky
I’ll give you some advice”

We’ve just passed Cameron Park, Burke’s Junction (shopping center), next too Sam’s (restaurant with saw dust for floors; a cowboy’s paradise!) and our little family creamery. We had a perfect ice cream parlor and dessert extraordinaire shoppe nestled in the hills, for all the Tahoe tour busses coming back down the mountain, and right before the city life of hustle and bustle resumed.

“And the night got deathly quiet
And his face lost all expression
Said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right”

The creamery was a family spot for a little fun on the weekends, and couples kindling new romances from the stones, while sharing frozen yogurt and decadent handmade truffles. We had an old-timey parlor meets Disney feel, black and white checkered floor, frosted snow glass, and beautifully crafted menus with catchy sweet phrases, to entice, and gloss your evening off just right with delight. My mother and father worked every day and came up with enormous dessert creations, flavoring favorites, and creative delicacies, sprinkled with pure powdered sugar, love, and heaping amounts of cocoa.

“In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game
And every task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake”

“The original Native American inhabitants of the area surrounding Cameron Park were Nisenan, or Southern Maidu Indians”. “Grinding rocks and burial mounds serve as glimpses of the past and are still visible in various locations in and near Cameron Park”. “Today, Cameron Park contains a mix of ranches, single family homes, condominiums, apartments and businesses,” and also were I ran out of gas.

“Every gambler knows
That the secret to surviving
Is knowing what to throw away
And Knowing what to keep”

Originally, we thought transmission issues; turned out no fuel for us to continue onward. No check engine lights, or fuel gages. This Buick was a manual in every sense of the word. As my brother and I walked the freeway, uphill, one can’t help but notice: (A) the freeway is not safe to walk, and (B) the hills are still alive with the sounds of honking, and smells of exhaust and gasoline. Of which, we needed, the gasoline; the honking, not-so-much!

“You got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”

This was in the day’s way before cell phones, triple A, contract law, and my brother’s Infiniti Qx60 luxury cross-over. No, we had a “beater” (lemon) of a maroon Buick traded in for a red Sprint (ironic), that needed to “hit” (pedal to the metal; “floored”) 80 mph, just to get up one hill. While the Mack trucks flew past us whisking our lives to the side. Embarrassing, butt-clinching, and dreadful as one could possibly fathom. Luckily, there’s a guard rail to hold on too, like at the roller rinks of long ago, before plunging off a steep mountainside. If the wind from the Mack’s didn’t blow us off, a storm was brewing and surely about too.

“Way out west, they’ve got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and
They call the wind Mariah
Oh now, Mariah blows the stars around
And sends the clouds a-flying
Mariah makes the mountain sounds
Like folks were up there dying”

We looked like Mario’s golf cart was driving on a freeway, just to give you a visual. My dad said it was a glorified lawnmower. It wasn’t uncommon then to see Magnum PI fly by and wave from his red Ferrari (probably laughing at the hilarity), or a run-in with “Bull” from Nightcourt at Eppy’s. Bull’s perpetual frown always made me smile. I’d rather build up speed, so we can get up the next, longer, more inclined and winding last mountain, than coast at snail speeds or bust from my “wagon” into town. You do not understand how essential a four-wheel drive is, in the mountains with seat warmers! Godly and necessary creations!

“Remember I told ya I didn’t like getting egg on my face? Well right now, I’m wearing a whole omelet.”

A time or two a quick unexpected rendezvous with Mr. Miyagi would take place, since he did live in the area. The Sheen’s (Martin and Charlie) helped a stranded friend from school get home after he lost his shirt in Tahoe, and let me tell you, it’s cold in there, them hills! My parents played blackjack with Barry Manilow and his dad, while I snacked on way too many candies (jackpot) to tell from the hotel room. Ran into countless stars coming and going through the winding, windy, ominous mountains, casinos, gas stations, restaurants, and hotel hallways.

“You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.” (Mr. Miyagi)

I don’t really ever get star struck or tongue twisted. Shyness, a whole other thing; yes, especially individuals who I admire or respect. Not as many as there should be I have high standards and my expectations are through the roof. My entire life, many have exclaimed; I needed “realistic” expectations. Rather, I believe, everyone needs and should up their game! We’re living in unprecedented times and should be on the lookout for a better tomorrow.

“Never put passion in front of principle, even if you win, you’ll lose.” (Thanks again Mr. Miyagi and father-time after time and time again)

My mom stated, “will you serve table 4?” Of course, completely obliged; ran a tuna melt and extra steak fries over to the man sitting alone, reading. “Can I get you anything else,” my usual restaurant speech. “Oh, can I order an Oreo cream cookie shake to-go?” He requested. “My favorite too,” I answered. “I will get it started while you have your lunch.” Mom, bewildered at me, said, “Do you know who that is?” “Mom, ya know, I don’t know anything!” She laughed, “figures, that’s your painter of light.”

“And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
And in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep”

Sadly, we left the warm family fun town, and bought an old Leatherby’s (I know why they left) in cold, unwelcoming Placerville. No one wanted this move, except my mother; so, we all begrudgingly accepted our fates and plunged into the frozen depths of an unknown abyss. This facility was 10 times bigger than our previous sweet nook and 100 times more draining. The actual size of the ice cream “machine” was almost as large and in charge as our entire store in Cameron Park. One needs a small ladder up; to pour the “magical” ingredients (“Ice cream must contain at least 10% milk fat, and at least 20% total milk solids, and may contain safe and suitable sweeteners, emulsifiers and stabilizers, and flavoring materials.”).

“Add all of the “magic” ingredients minus the topping ingredients (hot fudge, whipped cream, maybe sprinkles or an entire brownie) to a blender. Blend and pulse until combined.” Wala, out-of-this-world milkshake!

“There is a wide range of ingredients and formulations (recipes) that can be used in ice cream.” This is where my mother shined! You’ve probably enjoyed a few of her concoctions, unbeknownst. Her decorated ice cream cakes and “skillage”, par to none and couldn’t be compared or fulfilled fast enough. Daily orders and special occasions (birthdays, and holidays) kept her thoroughly and perpetually busy. Lines everyday out the door. Designing creations her forte; management of unruly, thieving teenagers, not her strong suit.

“This summer, construct a pool party for your taste buds—literally! Graham cracker bears ride the waves on candy pool floats while chocolate wafers form the pool’s edge. And as your fork dives into the water, ice cream appears!” (Source and many a Holiday drowning in special orders and candy-coated memories)

Ice cream rooted from Persia; 50% of the volume is air! Before the development of modern refrigeration, ice cream considered a rarity and for special occasions. The most popular flavors in North America are chocolate and vanilla, by far! Americans indulge more than any nation, anywhere else on Earth, at a whopping 48 pints per person, per year. Yum!

Ice cream is a common treat. According to it’s ingredients, however, there can be extreme’s considering what’s common. Folklore has some highly expensive ice creams just as mind blowing as mind freezing:
1 Strawberries Arnaud (out of my budget)
2 Absurdity Sundae at $60,000 (self-explanatory)
Lastly, with that sweet cherry on top, #3 R’s Frozen Haute Chocolate for $25,000 smackers!

Mom handed her famous Oreo shake over the counter to me. I walked over to table 4 and handed Thomas Kinkade his shake. All I could mutter, was “hope you enjoy”. The famous painter was maybe three doors down in a beautiful gallery downstairs, and his studio upstairs. I got to visit and that’s exactly where I fell head over heels for oil paintings. He demonstrated with a toggle on the wall that made the lights bright or dim, depending upon ambiance and personal fulfillment. The lights full blast, the painting appears made in daylight. Dimmer, the cottages themselves look as if someone stepped through the paintings front door and put candle lights in each window; almost knowing we were coming over. Magic does exist in Placerville, and Kinkade was the best at capturing that light.

“Thomas Kinkade Studios has teamed up with one of the most celebrated science fiction storylines of modern cinema; Lucasfilm, to introduce a new line of Limited-Edition Art.”

“Kinkade said he was emphasizing the value of simple pleasures and that his intent was to communicate inspirational messages through his paintings”. “A self-described “devout Christian, Kinkade believed he gained his inspiration from his religious beliefs and that his work was intended to include a moral dimension”. “Many pictures include specific chapter-and-verse allusions to Bible passages.”

“The spirit of our Lord fills every moment if we take the time to simply look, listen and allow His presence to fill our hearts and provide guidance. Join me in the Gazebo of Prayer where we can connect with providence often lost in hectic, everyday life. God Bless.”

One evening, the week of Thanksgiving to be exact, I took a friend up with me for a holiday treat. When I got there; I was godsmacked and horrified. I waited in line and was talking quietly to my friend, when I noticed, not one table was cleared or cleaned for the next out-the-door waiting patrons. It was a packed house, and I quickly side-eyed, “noticed” the so-called “manager” (my mother’s fav employee, treated better than her own son) standing up at a table pushed together for let’s say 20 quests.

“The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days and was attended by 90 Wampanoag Native American people and 53 Pilgrims (survivors of the Mayflower).”

Two girls in front of me just received their ice cream cones, and neither reached in their purses to purchase. Nada, not one penny exchanged for product. It must have shown on my face when our eyes locked because the little snotty teen’s face void and clammy white; all the blood drained from his empty brain. The once smile ear to ear, replaced with sheer horror and panic; he shot a glance to the manager. Too late, I had caught a whiff! I was cleaning tables and asked my friend to help. The family ship had hit an iceberg and I was sounding every alarm I could.

“From the first bite sugar sends a message to the brain, activating the reward system. In the brain, excess sugar impairs both our cognitive skills and our self-control.” Nibble so we stay nimble!

“They” were robbing my parents’ blind, and I felt a rage I couldn’t express. My friend Jenny, said in her sweet voice, “I will clean up the tables.” Thank God for genuine humans out there! I ran to the back for rags and mops, noticed not one dish washed or available for use. “Word”, was going around fast that I was there, and employees started mad dashing out the back. Not before, the bus boy offered me drugs (for sale, of course). Enraged, I made a decision, and sat my behind down, right next to my mother’s beloved manager. I was just about to rain holy hell down on their Thanksgiving, when something stopped me.

“When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealing’s done”

Surrounded by his family and friends, entirely at my family’s expense. I told him; my parents were good people. My father who had recently suffered a stroke, came from nothing, to now being robbed of everything. I calmly cursed those ingrates and no-good thieves. Let that be your gravy! The last day, we locked up, never had Placerville been so sunny, vibrant, and colorful before. Best day I ever had in Placerville, was the last day I left!

“Bible verse Matthew 5:16 (“let your light so shine before men”).”

A picture tells a thousand words, and I will leave Placerville to the artists brave enough to capture a fragment. Looks can be deceiving and that little town fits the bill. I still once in a blue moon have returned. More for Apple Hill instead; but that’s for another day of writing about bear claws, apple fritters, broken ankles, and cinnamon everything.

“However, the first mention of an apple fritter recipe can be traced back in England in 1390.” Too Many blue moons to count!

Maybe, we’ll get our Christmas tree there this year, and I can share more tasty morsels of California’s golden history and my families’ miseries. Happy Thanksgiving Turkey’s, from all of us, too all of yours!! Keep your family and friends close; show the door to the rest!!

“The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.” Agreed! (Norman Rockwell)

Published by SiriusSea

Many moons ago and in a faraway land, I used to write about all things wonderous to the world and I am back to stir the seven seas of wonderment once more. As the storms pass through, I set my compass and my sights upon and beyond Sirius Sea! Welcome aboard!

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