Always one of LO's 'flavorites'
Homemade. By hand. All 24 flavors.
There was nothing like Newton's Ice Cream Parlor for a dip, a scoop, a "Flaming Snowball," a "Twofer" or a special order. Opened originally as Rose's 24 Flavors, the shop was located at 39 B Ave. — the space most recently vacated by Gourmet Productions — until June 1979.
Owners Rose Larsen and Harry Hansen sold the shop to Oran "Newt" Newton in November 1958. Although he came from the corporate world of Safeway and earned his degree in food technology from Oregon State University, Newt always dreamed of having his own business.
When his sister-in-law called to tell him Rose's 24 Flavors was for sale, "Dad almost had us moved the next day," his daughter Janice remembers.
For more than two decades, Newt, his wife Maxine, daughter Janice and son Tom — and occasionally Aunt Thelma and Grandpa Newton — could all be found working in the "deep freeze" at various times. It was a family affair. (Dot connection: Jan and I were high school chums, along with her now-husband Ken Becker. The Beckers currently live on a farm in West Linn.)
When Newt first bought the shop, ice cream was the only thing on the menu.
"Sandwiches and soup were added, along with salads and other delicacies like Mom's Walnut Squares and her three-bean salad. We became a full-fledged sandwich shop in 1965," Jan recalls, "well-known for our tongue-tingling chili, the three-beaner and, of course, ice cream."
(These recipes can be found in the "Cooking Up Oswego Memories" cookbook, which is available at the Oswego Heritage House and Museum.)
Jan's dad always used to joke that his ice cream parlor was the inspiration for Farrell's, but that he was here first. It did kind of remind me of Farrell's, but without all the dinging and donging and the flying carpet of ice cream zooming around the room above your head.
Newton's had a similar ambiance to Farrell's — red-flocked wall paper, small round tables, wire-backed ice cream parlor chairs, a juke box and a popcorn machine; and people of all ages chattering and laughing, singing "Happy Birthday" or hanging out after a football game or a school dance.
Tom and Jan chuckle as they tell me that the aftermath of having a hoard of junior high school kids drop in after a dance always involved an interesting clean-up experience.
Ice cream definitely was Newton's specialty. Many of the recipes were handed down from Rose Larsen and then tweaked as new ideas for flavors emerged.
Newton's offered ice cream in standard flavors, but they also made ice cream to coincide with the changing seasons. Both Jan and Tom remember peeling peaches — and the aroma that created — for the peach ice cream, which was a summertime-only offering.
Root Beer was another summertime flavorite, as was Cherry Berry. In January and February, cherry ice cream was served up in honor of the presidents' birthdays. Newton's could create or concoct any flavor, it seems, for any occasion.
"'Cherry Berry' got its name," Jan recalls, "because Grandpa Newton, who often helped out with the ice cream making, accidently mixed the cherry flavoring into the strawberry ice cream or the strawberry flavoring into the cherry. I can't remember which. We decided to call it Cherry Berry. People loved it."
Tom tells the story of Newton's being asked to make 500 "Flaming Snowballs" for an event at the convention center in Portland when Gerald Ford was in town. He says the logistics of making 500 snowballs, delivering them and keeping them cold was definitely a challenge.
Jan remembers a story about a woman who wanted the shop to make cinnamon-flavored ice cream. And then there was the special order one Christmas for a creme de menthe ice cream pie.
"We weren't supposed to serve liquor, but Dad did the pie anyway ... for several years," she says.
Jan and Tom also remember hiring boys with bicycles during the summer to deliver homemade ice cream sandwiches.
"They kept the ice cream sandwiches cold on dry ice that they carried in baskets attached to their bikes. They would ride around the neighborhoods dinging their bells, selling our ice cream treats," the siblings say. "'Twofers' were a high-demand item, especially the dipped ones. You could have one side dipped or both sides dipped into any number of sprinkles, candies, etc."
Especially popular, they say: the "Freckle Twofer" — two different flavors dipped in chocolate sprinkles.
Across the street from the ice cream parlor (where Rite Aid is now) lived John Bickner, a member of the pioneer Bickner family, whose father, Joseph A. Bickner, owned a grocery on State Street. Grandpa Newton used to shop at Bickner's Grocery, and according to Jan's mother, John visited Newton's Ice Cream Parlor frequently — so frequently that he felt compelled to give the Newtons an heirloom wind-up family clock, complete with original oil and key.
Jan's mom gave the clock to Jan, who donated it to the Oswego Heritage House and Museum. Recently, Jan told me her grandmother bought 65 pieces of crystal from John Bickner as a wedding present for Ken and her.
But back to ice cream: What are the Newton siblings' favorite flavors? Jan says hers is Licorice, while Tom loves Opera House Fudge. And as for me? My favorite is Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.