In a town as small as Silver Lake, Ind., going out for ice cream used to be a rare treat.
From 1959 to 1975, Marilyn McDonald’s step-grandparents ran the only ice cream parlor about a mile north of the town.
The one-room restaurant, called “The Igloo,” was the center of social life in Silver Lake on Friday or Saturday nights, she said. Couples would go on dates at the “The Igloo,” and parents would bring their children up there for five-cent ice cream cones.
After it closed, there was nothing like it for years — until Marilyn and her husband, Trent McDonald, brought back the ice cream parlor about two weeks ago.
The Igloo Ice Cream Shop is now located at 108 W. Main St. beside the Subway sandwich shop, which she also owns and operates. The shop offers a rotation of 20 to 24 different flavors of hand-dipped ice cream, ofrom salted caramel to strawberry cheesecake.
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It’s not the kind of ice cream you can get off the shelf at the super market either, Marilyn said. It’s award-winning premium ice cream from The Chocolate Shoppe in Wisconsin. Where the texture of other ice cream might be crystallized, Marilyn said hers is creamy and melts in your mouth.
“I didn’t want just ’okay’ ice cream,” she said. “If I wanted an ice cream shop, I’m going to have the best ice cream because that’s what people will drive (here for), not just my little town will come and get. I’ll get, you know, people who will drive 30 minutes to get ice cream because it’s the best ice cream.”
Marilyn, who has lived in Silver Lake for more than 40 years, wished there were fast food restaurants where she could’ve brought her twin sons when they were growing up.
For her, it’s not just a place to grab a quick bite to eat — it’s a place where you can build memories with your family. In fact, it was Marilyn’s own stepfather, Doyle Heckaman, who convinced her to open up the business in the empty lot beside her Subway. Heckaman told her stories of how his parents would give him ice cream or popcorn as a snack every night.
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Up until two weeks ago, you had to drive 15 to 20 minutes to the next town to get a cold treat at the McDonalds in Warsaw or the Dairy Queen in north Manchester.
“I did have a lot of people in their 70s and 80s that come up to me, but I have a lot of people that are my age when they caught the tail end of (The Igloo) and they remember their grandparents, their parents taking them,” she said. “You know, ’We go to the races, and we’d try to make it back before they closed it up and get an ice cream cone.’”
Sure, there is business to be had from the families who come up to their cottage houses by the lake for the weekend. And with summer coming, there’s only going to be more people visiting The Igloo.
But by reviving the ice cream parlor in downtown Silver Lake, Marilyn said there’s a place for grandparents, fathers and mothers to make an impression on a child’s life — just like her mother did when she brought Marilyn to The Igloo for a treat.
Whenever they do, Marilyn makes sure to place two candy eyeballs on the ice cream.
“You should (see the) facial expressions, like, ’Look at that, Mom!’” she said. “You put the dip in the cup and you put the eyeballs and you create the mouth somewhere, you know, it creates this little face. We’ve gone through a lot of eyeballs already, and we’ve only been open two weeks.”
The Igloo Ice Cream Shop is open 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.