Even in Ohio, summers can get very warm. The Cincinnati area gets its fair share of humidity so when you grow up without air conditioning in the early 70’s, you’re scratching around for quarters so you can get into the movie theater. Moms like this plan too since it gets the annoying kids out of her hair – maybe she didn’t want A/C. One day in 1971, we went to see Billy Jack, (I think the group was Me, Tommy, Rich, Diane and someone else). The Cinema West would let you stay indoors there for as many times as you wanted to hear Coven sing out One Tin Soldier so when after the first viewing we saw the lighted Second National Bank sign read 105 degrees, we all knew we were gonna’ get to see Billy take his right foot and whop Posner on that side of his face, (again and again).
I was 13 that year, Diane and I were summer lovers (link). It was a great summer. We all had summer passes to the local community swimming hole, Wilson Pool, located directly next door to the Soapbox Derby track. Most hot days we’d all pick up and walk down to spend the day at the pool. The pool was generally well staffed and taken care of in those days. It was a great place for us pre-high school kids to hang out at.
Other days, if no one in our group had a Little League game that day, we’d walk over to Pillsbury Park to watch the games. Pillsbury used to have a factory there in Hamilton. Back in the day, Hamilton was quite an industrial mini-Mecca. Anyway, (and keep in mind I rarely research these facts), I believe that Pillsbury owned the land and donated funds in conjunction with the city for the several ballparks there.I couldn’t find this on the Internet, but right around this year, Arthur Treacher’s opened up a fish-n-chips franchise next door to our favorite kid spot. I’m going to get to that soon. For now though, I wanted to tell you about the fun grand opening week for Arthur Treacher’s. For me, it was my personal introduction to fried fish with malt vinegar. Yummy! Oh and what made it better was that they were giving out free samples. Twist my arm!
But the fish wasn’t the best part. The best part of this grand opening was the fact that they had brought in one of the corporate double decker busses and were giving out free rides from one side of town to the next. Me and my buddies took advantage of this for several rides, what a fun week.
But back to the favorite kid-spot. Only on a very rare occasion, anytime we kids were over by Pillsbury or McDonald’s or either the junior or senior high school, would we not stop at Flub’s! I know, I know – the name Flub’s doesn’t conjure up any visions of grandeur……unless of course you are a Hamiltuckian. If you are a Hamiltuckian, the name Flub’s should conjure up happy images of semi frozen childhood ecstasy. You see, Flub’s is a small, family owned soft serve ice cream stand.
Flub’s was right across the street from all the ballparks, perfectly located to catch all the post game appetites, 30 dirty little mouths at a time. There never was very much room for cars to park at Flub’s but that’s ok since most of their customers were of the pedestrian type. Flub’s was, (and still is), your typical “stand” kind of place. We’d walk up to one of the sliding plexiglass windows, (whichever one was open that day), to place our order. If it was a hot day, we’d lean over the narrow counter as far as we could, (and for as long as we could), to catch as much of the free air conditioning that would waft over our faces, giving us temporary relief from the hot and sticky summer days.There was no ‘indoors’ at Flub’s, only outdoor seating at one of a few of the tables. Whether or not there was seating available never mattered to us kids – we’d have our delicious cones gobbled as quick as you could say ‘can I have sprinkles on my cone’.
The specialty of Flub’s was soft serve ice cream. I suppose they sold shakes and malts and all sorts of other goodies. I suppose they did, but after getting hooked on the soft serve, I never really had a need to demonstrate my book learnings. My ears worked fine though, so when the server asked me for the first time if I wanted my cone “dipped”, my eyebrows lifted and my head jerked up as if someone had just pointed out the Goodyear Blimp – “what, dipped? What do you mean dipped?” And that’s when I first learned that my delicious summer sweetness could be made even more addictive. You mean you can get chocolate to stick to ice cream? Take me to your leader, you beautiful pimply-faced soft serve server, you!
The summers of the early 70’s hold most of my favorite memories of growing up on Prytania. Pick up ball games (link), Wilson Pool, nighttime Purse games (link), neighborhood pranks (link), super hot days at the movie theater, double decker busses and Flub’s.
Flub’s was, (and still is), more than just a place to get some quick relief from the heat; it’s always been a central ‘coincidental meeting spot’ too. Anytime we kids stopped in at Flub’s, we’d always run into a classmate. After we got married we’d always see someone there we knew or recognized. Flub’s is more than an ice cream stand, it’s an important part of west side Hamilton culture. When Domino’s Pizza opened up its pizza joint just next door to the much more expensive local pizza joint, (Milillo’s), I wasn’t worried for Milillo’s. I knew that Milillo’s, like Flub’s, was much too important to fail. Hamiltuckians will always be there to support local west side traditions like Flub’s. Good ice cream, good people and good times; good times at Flub’s.