It’s Thursday, December 3, a gray day in Pittsburgh. We’re packing up and driving to Columbus, Ohio today for a three-day Breakfast Special shoot. (It’s Glenn Syska’s mother’s birthday so he doesn’t get here till 9:30 or so. He wanted to take his mom to breakfast. Yes, breakfast. How could Bob and I say No?)
So, it takes us a while to get on the highway. My inspection sticker had expired on my car November 30, so we were gonna drop my vehicle at Miller’s Auto Service in Bethel Park on our way south to I-70. Then it was lunchtime already, so we stopped at Pasta Too on Route 88 by the entrance to South Park and had a small feast. While we were eating, I realized I didn’t have my phone, so Glenn called back to the station, and Dave Hallowell found my phone in my office under a box of calling cards that I meant to bring too. I said we had to go back. Cameraman and editor Frank Caloiero called and offered to meet us with my phone and cards, and we set up a rendezvous on the South Side. Then finally we were off.
The quickest way from Pittsburgh to Columbus is to go south to Washington, PA, then take interstate 70 all the way. Old route 40, the charming National Road runs parallel to 70, but we decided to get to Columbus before dark. These are short days.
I drive to Columbus fairly regularly because my sister lives there, and she and I take turns taking care of my mom. My sister Nisey and her man Bill Scott own and run a Sylvan Learning Center just north of the city in Lewis Center, OH.
I think it’s silly to drive from Pittsburgh to Columbus or vice versa without stopping in Zanesville at Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl. It’s been a family tradition now for nearly twenty years since this guy at work, Bob Meek, insisted that I stop. He kept telling me it was like the Fifties, and I thought he meant fake nostalgic Fifties, all James Dean-y and Marilyn Monroe-ish, and I didn’t bother, but then one day I did take the Maple Avenue exit off I-70 and found the place.
It’s astounding. A time machine. It transports you to what-I-want-to-call the Forties. It’s untouched, unchanged. A piece of another era that you can step into and get ice cream and really good roasted nuts.
So we stop. Bob and Glenn are impressed. It is a magical place where they put the names of the seasonal flavors of homemade ice cream on paper cards and post them high on the one wall.
Glenn gets eggnog. I get rum raisin. (Those are seasonal holiday flavors.) Bob gets black raspberry, a year round flavor that’s listed inside the wooden cabinet in the corner of the room behind the nut-and-candy cases. These are “single-scoop” dishes. Big single scoops. The sundaes overflow the bowls they come in.
(Back in 1996 when we made “An Ice Cream Show” for PBS and CPB, I always thought I’d include Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl, but we ran out of time and travel money in our budget. Still I mentioned this beautiful little place when I gave a list of great ice cream places to USA TODAY back then.)
If you’re ever near Zanesville, stop.