Summer means different things to people.
For many, its vacations at the beach; for others, it’s trips to the mountains or on the lake.
As a member of the original staycationing family, summer meant three lazy months of going to the library and watching cartoons.
I did have one mission though: finding a Snoopy Sno-Cone machine.
This mission consumed three of the summers of my youth.
The commercial on TBS made it look like the ultimate summer treat maker.
Seeing kids put the ice in the top of Snoopy’s dog house, crushing it into little cups and drizzling the flavoring over it made me think that would make summer perfect.
Plus, if it was on TV, you knew it had to be good.
We looked everywhere for one.
The sale inserts in the paper would declare that Eckerds (the precursor to Rite-Aid) and TG&Y would have them in stock.
I would bug Granny endlessly about it, begging her to help me search.
Of course, if Mama had only bought me one off the commercial, Granny wouldn’t have needed to make the weekly treks to the stores.
But Mama refused, saying she was not doing a check by phone or a COD, nor was she going to pay $14.99 for shipping when that was more than the thing cost.
“I have probably spent over $15 in gas trying to find one of these cussed things,” Granny mumbled one evening as we ventured to TG&Y.
TG&Y was sold out. According to the manager, the little sno cone machines with the Red Baron beagle sold out the same day they came in.
“That many people want those things?” Granny asked. “They look like Snoopy is –”
I shushed her; I was only 7 and even I knew some things that came out of my grandmother’s mouth were not appropriate for my ears or those working retail management.
“We may get some more but I can’t promise. Once they come in, we sell out pretty quickly.”
“Can we get a raincheck?” Granny asked.
The manager shook his head. “I am afraid not; we can’t guarantee the product will be in and it is a first come, first sell basis because of it being a seasonal item.”
“How about if you held me one? Could you do that? Could I maybe do a layaway?” Granny was trying everything she could think of, but nothing worked.
We left the store yet again without a Snoopy Sno-Cone machine.
“I can crush you some ice with a hammer,” Bobby offered when we got home. “We can pour some vanilla flavoring over it or some cherry juice, it would be the same thing.”
I wasn’t too thrilled at his suggestion; even though he meant well, it just wouldn’t be the same.
“Why would anyone want crushed ice when ice cream is better,” my grandfather mused from his chair.
“I’ve wanted this for three summers. Three!” I said. That was a long-term commitment for someone under the age of 10. “Ice cream is good, but this is different.”
“If you don’t want Bobby to bust you up some ice, Granny can put some in the meat grinder. Don’t worry, she cleans it out real good; she uses that meat grinder to crush her coconut meat,” my grandfather offered.
This was even worse than the ice being smashed with a hammer. Meat grinder sno cones?
“Why’s this so special?” my uncle wanted to know.
“It’s Snoopy,” I said wearily.
No one seemed to understand when you are a little kid, you get fixated on something because you like it, and nothing is a suitable substitute. It was a situation a hammer couldn’t fix.
A few weeks later, as summer was coming to a close, Granny and I were in Eckerd picking up a prescription. There high on the top shelf, shoved above the small appliances and pushed beside hot water bottles was one remaining Snoopy Sno-Cone machine in all its glory.
Granny and I both gasped.
I didn’t say a word; I didn’t have to. As strict as the old gal could be, she would have given me a kidney if it would have helped me. Granted, she would have fussed about it for the rest of her life, but she would have done it.
She walked over to the register by the pharmacy and asked if they could get it down for her.
“How much does it cost?” Granny asked as the lady climbed a small step ladder.
I can’t remember how much it was, but it was enough to make Granny cuss. And, it was more than the TV price with the shipping.
Granny’s glance told me what I already knew. She thought it was too much. Even though I was a kid, I thought it was too much, too. Summer was practically over, and I didn’t see myself wanting a sno cone when I would be craving burnt caramel cake in the fall.
Actually, I could eat burnt caramel cake year-round. The sno cones I only wanted in the summer.
Heading home, we drove through town and in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly was a little tiny booth with a sign declaring sno cones. Granny pulled in immediately.
“What flavor you want?” she asked.
I got a bubble gum flavored one and Granny got cherry. She declared hers tasted like cough syrup and mine was too sweet to eat. They were messy, too.
“I ain’t never paid this much for ice,” Granny said as she spooned up a bite. “Don’t get your granddaddy started on this. His trips to the Brazier are enough.”
Not that long ago, my child and I saw a Snoopy Sno-Cone machine in a store. “You should get it!” Cole exclaimed.
Nah, sometimes just the memory of something is better than the actual thing.