When I was pre school age, a trip to Nacogdoches was always an adventure. If I was with my mother we always stopped by the large Perry Brothers Five & Dime store on Main Street in Nacogdoches where I would purchase a small sack of warm cashew nuts. These are my favorite nuts, but they have always been rather expensive.
On occasion I would ride with my Dad to Nacogdoches for various reasons and he would always stop at a store on East Main that was an ice house that also sold ice cream cones. So I reasoned that if I did not get my warm cashew nuts, perhaps I would get a cold ice cream cone out of the deal.
My grandfather, Felix, loved to ride over to Nacogdoches as well. I never recall “Big Daddy” driving a car so I assume he could not drive. On this occasion the three of us motored to Nacogdoches for a bit of shopping. After our business was done we pointed Dad’s 1941 Chevrolet east toward San Augustine. I asked Dad if he intended to stop by the ice house and buy three cones. My grandfather always called ice cream cones “say-so’s” - I never knew why and never asked. So we decided to purchase two cones and one “say-so”.
We pulled up to the entrance of the ice house and a black gentleman met us, “What can I get for you today?” he queried. My Dad ordered three ice cream cones and also asked what flavors they had today. The man always gave the same answer, “We have chocolate, strawberry, and plain panilla”.
Holding our cold delights like small treasures, we began our trip home. Cars were not air conditioned in those days so one had to eat the ice cream rapidly before it melted. My grandfather managed to get melted ice cream all over his hand. That created a problem as he would be described today as a “cleanie”. “Cecil, I can’t stand these sticky fingers.” Dad looked irritated as he stared straight ahead, “Well, daddy, we will be home pretty quick and you can wash your hands then” my father replied.
We made it about half way home with grandfather fussing all the time about the sticky ice cream residue on his fingers. Finally, I suppose Dad had heard enough and stopped the car on the shoulder of the road near a creek. “Go wash your hands in the creek - we’ll wait”, Dad suggested. (note - when one addresses his father one should always “suggest” rather than order).
Soon Big Daddy had clean hands which he held out the car window to dry in the hot air. But our trip was not without additional interruption. Several miles later we came over a hill to see several buzzards feasting on something that had not crossed the road fast enough. All the buzzards flew away except for one that seemed to have trouble getting airborne. We drove directly under the bird who then upchucked all over the front of our car. The smell was terrible.
Luckily there was another creek nearby which provided enough water to wash the stinky mess off our Chevrolet. We were able to get back home without further incident.
The Perry Brothers store has been gone for a long time, but the store that sold “say-so’s” to us is still there, but no longer an ice house. Every time I drive by it I expect to see an old gentleman standing there to ask me if I want a “plain panilla” ice cream cone. But he has never appeared again.
BY: NEAL MURPHY
P.O. BOX 511
107 HEMLOCK STREET
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972