This image is in the archives at The Chester County Historical Society in West Chester. It’s the only one they have related to The Guernsey Cow in their archives.
[They have a nice service there where you can pay them to research a topic or multiple topics and determine what information and photos they have on record. Or you can go in yourself and dig around in the library reading room. Someday I'll spend afternoons there mining their collection for various historical tidbits.]
The Guernsey Cow was famous for its ice cream and for its hand-made cream caramels. The caramels were cooked up in huge copper kettles with big wooden paddles. The caramels were wrapped in branded wax paper and then stuffed into the tubs like those shown. The lid had a die-cut guernsey cow head in it that popped out and made a nice way of pulling caramels out as you needed.
“Famous Cream Caramels from the World’s Largest Guernsey Cow” is the slogan on the side of the tub and as referenced in a previous post they were also famous among the famous. For the long-distance traveler they were the perfect take-home product when you couldn’t take the ice cream with you.
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Posted in history, working life, tagged 1970s, caramels, chester county pa, exton pa, Horn & Hardart, ice cream, Lincoln Highway, willie minor on December 10, 2008 |
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Last week, I received an email from Frank Lavin who worked for Horn & Hardart and managed The Guernsey Cow for a few years in the late 1970s.
I’ve edited the letter a bit for length:
I worked for Horn & Hardart from 1973 ( during High school ) through 1978 ( as a Restaurant Manager ).
Horn & Hardart took over the ‘Cow’ for a few years in the late seventies… I knew the ‘Cow’ was better off with the Polite’s. Horn & Hardart was in the process of closing stores (pretty much the end of the line for the once great company).
I worked at the ‘Cow’ for about 2 years when I just got out of High School in the restaurant as the night manager for H & H and later they brought me back to make the ice cream for not only the Exton restaurant but also the rest of their Philadelphia footprint of restaurants and retail stores.
I remember helping Willie move from his home inside the store to his new home in the small cottage next to the big home in the rear of the restaurant.
Willie was ‘great’ he helped me immensely. I used to visit him ( after I left Horn & Hardart ) at least once a year until one day when I found his cottage was vacant. I spoke to someone who told me that he moved to Downingtown.
In a follow up email, Frank explained:
Yes, we used to ship the ice cream and also the caramels ( not sure who made the caramels for Horn & Hardart ) in the Guernsey Cow tubs to all the H & H stores in their Philadelphia market, such as:
- Broad & Walnut
- 12th & Market ( Reading Terminal )
- Cottman & Large
- 8th & Market
- 16th & Market
- Lawrence Park
- Bala (City Line Ave)
There were more, but these are some that I worked at.
I do remember both your Grandparents. Larry was a nice man. I was the afternoon manager and I spent some quality time with him. I was just out of High school ( very green behind the ears ) and he showed me around and taught me lot about managing the restaurant.
Do you remember Mackie? he worked at the Ship Inn and used to come in everyday?
I do remember Mackie as I’m sure many others do as well. He was some kind of character!
Thanks for writing in Frank.
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Growing up I would see the word “famous” on the all the Guernsey Cow packaging. I’m assuming I believed it. By the time I was a doubting teenager I knew it was true.
My aunt Saundra Polite Schier — Gladys & Larry Polite’s #2 daughter — sent me a couple of stories about The Guernsey Cow’s “reach” in this world.
In 1960, just out of college, she was swimming in the Adriatic Sea along the coast of Italy near where her father was born and raised before coming to America as a young teen.
“…my American accent was overheard by an apparent native Italian. Since he was mighty attractive, I engaged in a conversation leading to the inevitable….where in the States did I live? When I said near Philadelphia (who ever heard of Exton back then?), I was pressed to be more specific.”
When she replied “Exton”, the Italian asked, “We go to Exton every Sunday for ice cream, do you know the Guernsey Cow?”
It turned out he was a first generation Italian Upper Darby resident who spent every summer in his second home in Abruzzi (now Abrruzzo).
This kind of coincidence was known by my grandmother as “Murray’s Law”. My grandmother kept a clipping of a column written by a Philadelphia Inquirer or Bulletin columnist by the last name of Murray. His law, as he described in this column, was that no matter where you are in the world, you will always be sitting next to or near someone that will know someone who knows you or someone from where you live. This was a decade or two before the whole Six Degrees of Separation concept became popular — but our grandmother, Gladys, was always hitting on that anytime a story like Saundra’s came up.
[I did some quick searching for Murray and his law but could find nothing on the web ... guess his wisdom didn't make the leap to info-space.]
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