Last year saw the passing of the last of the Polite brothers that managed The Guernsey Cow in Exton, Pennsylvania for decades. Joseph E. Puliti/Polite (aka “Pep” or “Peppy”) died March 31, 2014 just shy of his 90th birthday.
Pep (top), sister Dolly, and friend, Vince, in Wildwood NJ 1936
The youngest of the brothers, Pep became the chief ice cream officer at The Guernsey Cow until its sale to Horn & Hardart in 1976.
Pep (left), older brother Elmer (middle), cousin Johnny Falini, and niece, Wanda Polite around 1939
Pep went to and played football at West Chester High and then at Appalachia State until he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and entered into World War II. During the war, he was stationed in the South Pacific.
Upon returning home from his Marine Corps service he attended the University of Maryland, graduating in 1950 with a degree in Dairy Technology. At Maryland, he met his future wife, Barbara. They married, moved back to the Exton area and had three children: daughter Wendy and sons, Kerry and Kim.
Pep resumed his duties at The Cow and, for more than 25 years, was the father of invention when it came to ice cream flavors. He boasted that the list of flavors tried was over 400. He had his successes (Black Licorice) and his duds (Roquefort or Moon Dust) that often were inspired by current events, customer requests, or his own wild imagination.
He often surreptitiously included alcohol in flavors such as Rum Raisin, Egg Nog, Grasshopper and Turkish Coffee especially around Christmas time. Pep posted a few of his flavorful stories in the comments here.
We grand-nephews and -nieces recall Pep as the happy-go-lucky one of the brothers. He always had a joke and was willing to horse around. His son, Kim, told me a few years ago:
“Peppy’s famous gratuitous phrases for pushy customers were ‘Help your fat’ and ‘Maximilian’ (for ‘Thanks a million’) which were spoken so quickly as to be partially unintelligible.”
While Pep wasn’t making ice cream and caramels he was playing golf at Whitford Country Club and running a garage door opener business on the side.
Following the sale of The Cow in 1976, Pep moved West to Colorado. An avid skier and cyclist, the Colorado Rockies beckoned. He followed professional photographer son, Kim, to Denver for 8 months then landed in Durango CO where he opened up Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlor downtown.
After a few years he sold the shop and eventually joined the Durango Silverton Railroad where he was in charge of concessions on the train and in the station. He enlarged the offerings there from just snacks to include clothing and gift items, increasing concession revenues and turning it into a million dollar venture.
Pep and Willie
In 1998, he moved back to West Chester to be closer to family. He took a role as the “Candy Man” at Boscov’s in the Exton Square Mall next door to the original Guernsey Cow property. As his daughter Wendy recalled, “He ended his career making fudge at Boscov’s next door to the place he started his career making caramels at The Cow.”
In 2003, he moved to Ann’s Choice in Warminster, PA, enjoying a group of friends for biweekly lunches as well as a regular breakfast group, and living independently the rest of his life.
I am grateful to Uncle Pep for the information and knowledge he provided in the early years of building TheGuernseyCow.com. I enjoyed his frequent emails containing stories of old Exton and the hijinx at The Guernsey Cow. His comments are throughout this site as well as on the Facebook page dedicated to The Cow and Exton memories. We’re lucky to have them.
Special thanks to Pep’s children for providing memories and photos.