Heat (95 degrees), humidity (pushing 70 percent), severe thunderstorms (any minute now) … Once again, the weather challenges me to find a Happy Holly Project for today.
And once again, I go to State College to do some NPR stuff. Voice … training … like the other day. As in pot up mic, push air enco 1 button, read underwriters, slider down, read weather, play promo, spin around three times, pat my head, rub my tummy … you know … easy stuff.
Afterward I walked out into a wall of humidity.
And the choice became obvious … Peachy Paterno.
Now for all the die-hard fans of quality ice cream, The Creamery on the Penn State campus is a bit of a shrine to perfection. After all, this is where Ben & Jerry learned the art of fine ice cream making. And what is better than Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream?
The ice cream at The Creamery, actually.
Founded in 1892, The Creamery is the oldest collegiate program for making ice cream. Hey, we have priorities around here, you know … and agricultural research and education is one of the big ones.
So I gave a call to my friend Ann, who used to live not far from here … in hopes that she had directions to the Mecca of Ice Cream.
But after I hung up my cell phone, I pulled up to the stop light right beside Beaver Stadium. Home of the Nittany Lions, Joe Paterno … oh … and Jerry Sandusky … but that’s another story. And the huge sign that said “Visitors and Information Center”.
So I visited the visitors, mapped the map, and got directions to my goal for the day.
Upon leaving the building, I saw a small crowd across the street … standing quietly. On closer inspection, I saw that they were all looking at the statue of the legendary late Joe Paterno … JoePa to those of us who followed him.
There is some talk of them taking this statue down, in light of the recent scandal. So I did what any self-respecting fan would do … I went up to the statue and asked a bystander to take my picture.
(By the way, the paper in my hand was a letter that had been taped to his arm … I returned it after the picture … and did not read it … and the flowers on the ground were from some other fans. He is still a much beloved legend in Happy Valley in spite of it all.)
Off I headed in search of ice-cream nirvana.
On finding the building where The Creamery is located, I mentally genuflected in the general direction of Ben & Jerry and entered the storefront. And was greeting by what seemed like miles of counter space and endless choice for ice cream. But then I was on a mission.
I wondered if it might still be available, after all that latest reports and whatnot. (center panel, third choice down)
It was magnificent.
In talking to Zach behind the counter, I explained all my picture-taking … and the Happy Holly Project … and told them that they were my project for the day. At that point Zach volunteered a short anecdote of his own personal experience with Joe Paterno.
It seems that on a similarly hot day a few years back, Joe and his small group of friends came into The Creamery for a well-deserved treat. As they all chose from among the various flavor options, Joe turned to Zach and said ”I’ll have a cone of Peachy Me.”
Somehow I think this story will be told to young Zach’s grandchildren someday.
I hope so.