I have a friend who immigrated to the US from Central America. She lives with her big, multigenerational family, and like many who came to the US from foreign countries, they speak dual languages in their home. She has a son and a daughter, and the daughter was born with a developmental disability. My friend has invested much time and care in helping her daughter grow and thrive and be her best. Still, I was surprised when she told me she was reading CeeGee’s Gift with her, and I was so pleased when she added that her daughter just loved it.
I thought to myself, ‘I bet she loves the marsh, or maybe biking around the island.’
But then my friend said, with a big grin on her face, “She just loves the milk shakes. Every time we get to a part with a milk shake, she gets all excited.”
I did not see that coming.
When I was growing up in San Antonio, our next door neighbors owned the local drug store and soda fountain. It was at the corner of a shopping center and close enough to home that I could bike there, roam all the shops and then cool off with a milk shake. It sure hit the spot on a hot Texas day.
Later, when I had small children of my own, we lived in a neighborhood near downtown Phoenix. About once a week, I would load them up in the stroller, one in the seat, one standing on the back. We would walk 6 blocks to the swimming pool and spend a few hours there. Then, on the walk home, we would stop at the drugstore with a soda fountain in the back. There weren’t many left, and I loved sitting at the counter with my kids sharing a milk shake.
Even now, in Austin, there is at least one drug store that still has a soda fountain, Nau’s Enfield Drugs in the Clarksville neighborhood. In the classic style, the drugstore is in front, with the Formica counter of the soda fountain, and raised swivel chairs at the back, and a few booths and tables. They serve, among other things, old fashioned icy, creamy milk shakes.
But to this young child, who lives in a world of her own imagining, she must have created her own image of a milk shake, and it seems it brought her just as much joy as it did for me, my kids, Austin old timers, and the characters in CeeGee’s Gift. Isn’t that just wonderful?