Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Dairy Queen on Route 20

I exchange a lot of emails with the person behind the great Oberlin In The Past Facebook page. As we both feel it's our duty to perpetuate local history online, we have a lot in common. And The Oberlin In The Past Facebook page is a gem, always full of wonderful, rarely seen vintage photos.

A week or two ago we were discussing soft serve ice cream stands in the Oberlin area, including the gone but not forgotten Dari Land on Route 58, as well as the Dairy Twist on Route 20 east of town, which is still in business and very popular.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
I remarked how the Dairy Twist sign is obviously a retrofitted Dairy Queen sign, and a question arose. Did Oberlin have an actual Dairy Queen – and when?

I had to admit I didn't really know. I remembered my father taking my brothers and I fishing at Oberlin Reservoir in the early 1970s, and getting soft serve ice cream afterwards somewhere out there in that neck of the woods (on Route 20 if I remember correctly). But I have no idea what the name of the place was.

So I had to look it up in the few vintage Oberlin phone books and old Lorain County directories available at the Lorain Public Library.

It turns out that the Oberlin area had not one, but two Dairy Queens.

The first one – as best as I can tell – showed up in the phone book for the first time in the 1957-58 phone book (below). It was on Route 20 West.

The listing promptly disappeared in subsequent editions.

It wasn't until the 1973 edition of the Dickman Criss-Criss Directory that Dairy Queen appeared again, this time on Route 20 East (below).

As you can see, Dairy Queen and many other listings have no address at all, and are arranged alphabetically (for maximum confusion for someone trying to figure it out 40 years later). 
The Dairy Queen on Route 20 West apparently didn't last very long either. It too seemed to disappear in subsequent books.
I did find a listing for something called Polar Freeze Bar on Route 20 West in the 1978 book, but I don't know if it was a dairy stand or a poorly insulated tavern.
Anyway, the Dairy Twist seemed to first appear in the 1981 directory, and an online website that features businesses and their incorporation dates states that it was established in 1984.

At any rate, the company made great use of the former DQ sign, and I'm glad they found the recipe for success in Oberlin.


Anonymous said...

Ha Ha! When I was a kid, my dad would always want to stop there for an ice cream cone. Found out later, after mom died, that one of pop's old girl friends ran the place!! So he must have been keeping tabs on an old sweetheart!! My dad never cheated on mom -- But I always think of this when I drive by that place!! Comet in RR....

Anonymous said...

My family went to this shop quite a bit. Did it use to be called Hamner's Ice cream? Not sure, but that is what we called it...

Anonymous said...

It might have been Hamner's Dairy Twist in the 80s, I heard it referred to as that but then everyone knew they ran it (and apparently lived close by).

Chris Hanmer said...

My Uncle, Dick Hanmer and his wife owned and ran the "Dairy Twist" in the late 70's and early 80's. They opened it after selling the same sort of store that they owned in South Amherst for several years. The store on route 20 was the last place we stopped as we left town to move to Florida in July of 81. It wasn't long after we moved that we got the word that Dick had a terminal illness. I really don't know when they left the business. They lived right around the corner just South of the Dairy Land business.

Anonymous said...

Polar Freeze actually was an old restaurant, turned bar. Later became Mary's.

Dan Brady said...

Wow, thanks for the comments, everybody!

Anonymous said...

Great memories! We always went to the Hanmer's in South Amherst when we lived between Lorain and Amherst. Then we moved way out to Wakeman. We were happy they opened the shop in Oberlin, we started going there. They made the most generous ice cream cones. Loved the black raspberry sundaes too!