There are some things that never change and Mullen's Dairy Bar is one of them. Established during the Great Depression this sentimental shop still hand churns ice cream daily. Inside the battered screen door the decor matches the menu fare. Vintage Coke and Pepsi trays match the faded gingham wallpaper they hang against. There's a crack in the ceiling near the corner. It’s the same one I noticed when I was fifteen; undoubtedly it will still be there when I am fifty.
I’ve been going to Mullen’s Dairy Bar since I was four years old. I’m thirty-three now and like I said, not much has changed. My onion rings are still piping hot perfection. I sip my ice cold cherry phosphate and travel back in time. Once again I'm that bright eyed little four year old who ran over to the penny candy display. She got a piece of rock candy for her birthday and today that memory is just as sharp as the candy that cut the roof of my mouth.
“Mullen’s has a birthday today.” Bonnie says. Jack's five year old eyes were wide with childish delight when he saw the red and white striped candle nestled in his chocolate ice cream. Everyone sang together and we were all smiling at Jack's obvious relish for his birthday treat. My own children were running up and down the narrow aisles. They touched every single piece of candy they could reach. They went to the bathroom every five minutes just so they could play with the gate at the top of the stairs. An elderly woman with artificial blue-black hair smiled at them as they raced past the other patrons. I see her secret smile and I wonder if she and her husband went on dates here when he was courting her. Her head is nodding in time with the music.
That hasn't changed either. I bet the radio station has never been changed. It's still the same easy listening favorites that soak into the surroundings and flavor the food. No one really listens to it but we'd all miss it if it wasn't there. A teenage girl wearing a still clean work shirt is sitting across from us. That girl has been sitting there for years now. She’s there with her boyfriend and her friends behind the counter give them a malt when Bonnie's back is turned. The serving girls in front of us are the same girls who worked there when I was in high school. The hair and makeup is different but the girls are the same; slim, bustling and efficient. The sundaes are served in glass dishes, that’s one of my favorite things about Mullen’s; real glass dishes. If you're ever in the area drop on by. At Mullen's there are two spoons for every sundae.