17 Oct Fallen Cone at the Horn of Plenty, Kingston, New York
Certain roads are a big part of our daily lives, and for me that road is Route 28 right here in Ulster County, New York State. My husband Richard and I run Bistro-to-Go, our gourmet take out store and cafe on Route 28 in a funky little strip mall that hosts other food-related shops. In our neighborhood you could buy: a Harley Davidson, a great bottle of wine, some cheese, handmade pasta, kombucha, smoked salmon – you could get a sign made, buy a barn or hot tub, a fireplace or a few doors down help the people of Tibet!
For years I drove by this giant ice cream cone sign atop the dilapidated Meredith’s Bread building several times a day, wondering how long till it would disappear. I knew it had been years since they actually served ice cream there (at the former Horn of Plenty ice cream shop), so certainly its fate was sealed. I snapped pictures of the sign in all kinds of weather (even snowstorms) hoping to get the definitive shot to immortalize the sign for eternity. I knew in my gut it would soon be added to my list of signs that had vanished. And sure enough, that day came in October of 2012. I was driving to Kingston to make my daily bank deposit, and BOOM – shock and horror – no more giant cone! With that, I vowed to paint it!
I did a bit of research to find out the history of the sign and reached the current owner Robert Allen who told me that he has had the building and the business since 1972. Back in those days it was just a 20’x 40′ fruit stand to which he later added the ice cream business. He built the big cone himself with the help of local sign-making legend Phillip Fox. Over time, businesses evolve and change, and in 2007 he made the decision to focus completely on the bakery and close all the other aspects of the business.
I can understand his decision, but for those of us who loved to smile at that giant ice cream cone, that stretch of Route 28 will never be the same. I painted “Fallen Cone at The Horn of Plenty” as my tribute to one of my favorite local landmarks.
Fortunately the sign has lived on in the hearts of many writers as well. In 2013, The Woodstock Writers Festival featured my painting as the inspiration for one of it’s writing contests, and here is the winner, by Kathleen McKitty Harris:
Althea had pined for Zack since sixth grade, in the way that dumpy, homely girls often did. Quietly. Remotely. In the safety of hidden journals and in the shadows of flat poly/cotton bedsheets.
Zack wasn’t aware of her, as most strong-jawed, tanned boys often weren’t. He’d stolen her bag of Utz chips from the cafeteria table once, simply because they were available to him, and because he felt peckish. She justified Zack’s actions to her friends in the third-floor girls’ bathroom, where they hid to skip P.E., and the tormenting sting of dodgeballs. They were easy targets.
In the summer before junior year, Althea worked at the Horn of Plenty. Her mother felt that the “right” kids hung out at the roadside ice-cream stand, and that this was Althea’s last chance to achieve high school equilibrium. She was an abject embarrassment to her mother, a popular — and slutty — teenager in her day.
Althea perfected the creamy twist-off in a few days, without waste or spillage. “A natural,” the night manager remarked.
Zack swung by with dates all summer, but only ordered nonfat vanilla yogurt, since he was trying to make weight for the wrestling team. Althea yearned to fill him and nurture him, to satiate his palate with the pleasures of soft-serve. Each time, she depressed the handle, bypassing the yogurt release without his knowledge, to allow full-fat ice cream to emerge in hand-twisted tubes.
He was surprised, at first, at the pleasing mouth-feel and lack of sour aftertaste. He teased the tip with his lips, and then devoured it, ravenous. She’d sit on the boxes near the storeroom, gratified by his pleasure. He’d request the confection all summer. And run, in a suit of black garbage bags, throughout the fall.
Oil on canvas, 36×48″
Giclee prints available for purchase here.