Trapped In the Ice Cream Room

My cousin , Kim Puliti, sent me this photo from August of 1968 a while back. Am assuming that’s him and his brother Kerry trapped in the ice cream room window with the empty 5-gallon bulk ice cream containers on a hot August day.

Trapped in the ice cream room 1968

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Reader Mail: Horn & Hardart Years

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
  • Lansdowne
  • 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.

Did You Work at The Cow?

Child Labor
Child Labor circa late 1930s

Thanks to the brainstorming efforts of Uncle Pep (Joe Puliti/Polite), we have added a new page where you can add comments to let us know you worked at The Cow, what you did and when you did it. We would also love to hear what you ended up doing later on it life or what you are doing now. Click here to visit the Employees page.

Preparing for Change

1973 Letter Exton Square Opening

When I first started working at The Guernsey Cow, it was the last year the business was run by Horn & Hardart (my grandfather still owned the property but had leased the business to H&H in 1976. More about the history of the business to come in a later post.)

My grandfather continued to walk around the place like he owned it and ran it. In a sense, he owned the legacy of The Guernsey Cow and protected that legacy by ‘advising’ management and staff alike. As a busboy/dishwasher/counter jockey there were a few simple rules that my grandfather imparted on every visit or walk-through:

    Table

  1. Keep your hands out of your pockets.
  2. Do not stop moving. Barring anything else, there is always cleaning, restocking to be done..
  3. When wiping tables clean, wipe the sides as well as the tops. The sides face the customer as well as the top.

My mother returned from a recent visit to my grandmother with the three-page memo written in 1973 by my Uncle Joe “Pep” Puliti (Polite), then president of The Guernsey Cow. [Click the thumbnails at the end of this post to see the full page memo.] In it he lays out a challenge before all employees in the face of the impending Exton Square Mall opening.

At that point, the mall construction had already changed the face of Exton and West Whiteland by gobbling up what were once corn fields on the Zook property. The Zook House was raised up and moved to preserve it and make it part of the mall property (It was moved again in the mall’s expansion completed in 2000) .

Along with the increased traffic flow into Exton, the mall would also introduce the area to chain fast food restaurants. When it opened, the mall featured the area’s first McDonald’s. Shoppers would have no need to venture outside the confines of the mall walls in order to get a bite to eat.

It’s a treat to read the straight-forward direction given by my uncle about the actions each individual could take to make the business successful and the workday smoother. You can still see evidence of this level of care and consideration in some locally-owned eateries and other businesses and a lot less of it in the chain restaurants and bigger places.

Next time you are out to dinner, take a look around and see how many of the staff are standing around or chatting idly rather than seeing things to be done and doing them.

[Click the thumbnails below to see the full-size page of the letter.]

Guernsey Cow Letter 1973 p1
Guernsey Cow Letter 1973 p2
The Guernsey Cow Letter Page 3 1973

Making Black Licorice Ice Cream

kimicecream2
Cousin Kim Puliti sent along this photo of himself in the midst of making black licorice ice cream. His father Joe (Pep) Puliti left a comment on the Flavors page about licorice ice cream.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was about to head up to the roof to patch a hole with a bucket of tar.

In the close-up below you can see the rubber stamps on the wall behind Kim. These were used to stamp the flavors on the 5 gallon bulk ice cream containers as well as the pre-packaged 1/2 gallon, quart and pint containers that were sold in the store.

To the right is the lid from a Grasshopper flavor half gallon lid showing the rubber stamp. (Those were the days that a half gallon of ice cream was a half gallon. Today you buy what you think is a half gallon and it’s actually 1.75 quarts. )

kimicecream1_stamps grasshopper

Selling Fresh Pulled Sweet Corn

Selling Sweet Corn in Exton

My grandfather works on his signage while my mother looks on. The makeshift produce table is set up on the lawn alongside Sleepy Hollow Hall on the west side of The Guernsey Cow parking lot. This was taken probably around 1940.

Note: Years later — make that decades later — my siblings and I were hired by my grandfather to pick up rocks and gravel in that yard, filling many 5-gallon buckets. I don’t recall how much we earned; it was probably more than the 25 cents he was getting for a dozen ears back in 1940. But not much more.

If you have photos of life around The Guernsey Cow, email them in to us at busboy@TheGuernseyCow.com.