Birdsall’s ice cream, a local favorite for many, many years. Birdsall’s has been my favorite ice cream spot in all of North Iowa since childhood. When I arrived there last weekend in early afternoon, Miss L and I were the only ones there and naturally I started talking to the man behind the counter. The man who I had been talking to and a very familiar face in Birdsall’s told me his name was Mark Repp. In which I later learned that he has been serving ice cream at Birdsall’s for 46 years!
I remember his face walking in as a child so long ago. It also just so happens that Birdsall’s has been open for 84 years this month!
Some of my earliest memories was getting to stay at my Nonnie’s house (my grandmother) near downtown Mason City. In the summer months we would play outside and work in her garden, and on warm summer nights we would walk the 8 blocks to Birdsall’s for a treat after our long summer days. We would clean up, eat our supper, and most times I didn’t have to ask to go to Birdsall’s but sometimes I think she just waited to see if I would ask. Our summer walks to Birdsall’s would include a ride on my pink big wheel sometimes accompanied by my mom, aunt, cousins, another visitor or just a walk with Nonnie and me. We would admire the large Victorian and Frank Lloyd Wright inspired homes on along our walk from North Adams Avenue. These walks to Birdsall’s will be a memory I will carry with me forever, and I know Birdsall’s has contributed to my lifelong love of ice cream.
Birdsall’s has outlived every other ice cream store in Mason City. I attribute this to its timeless customer service, traditional and large amount of flavors, and the mere feeling of stepping back in time when you enter the door. As you pull the door open you are welcomed with the sweet smell of malt flavoring and it leaves your tummy yearning for that first lick of ice cream from the cone.
Birdsall’s has many flavors of ice cream and every single flavor is made in house! Every. Single. One. They have homemade waffle cones and your classic treats beyond the traditional sugar and waffle cone including banana splits, malts, and sundae’s. I asked Mark what flavor is most asked for and he said most prefer the seasonal flavors, “Peach by far is the top flavor, other seasonal flavors include dutch apple and pumpkin”. My favorite used to be the cotton candy flavor burst, I remember when they first got the machine, I was probably 7. My favorite then migrated to the chocolate malt, its still a favorite but what I absolutely love now is the Black Raspberry Marble in a waffle cone. Miss L had my old favorite, Cotton Candy Flavor Burst. Mark’s favorite ice cream is chocolate chip and has been his entire 46 years working at Birdsall’s. I also asked him what he loves about working for Birdsall’s since he has worked there since he was 16 years old he said, “The best part is having so many friends, there are so many regulars but the odd thing is, I don’t know most of their names”.
Mark has worked every Friday and Saturday night for the last 46 years, I think he that he sees his career as serving up joy. Ice cream is good, and it makes you happy. It’s one of those foods that you save for an occasion, for guests, or for a special night at home. I thanked him for being a great part of my childhood, Mark was always there, a familiar face and a happy smile. The world needs more places like Birdsall’s and the world definitely needs more Mark’s. Happy Birthday Birdsall’s!
I am Alicia Schmitt, I blog at www.fitandfarm.com you can see my original post here: http://www.fitandfarm.com/walks-to-birdsalls-its-84th-birthday/
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