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Ice cream maven, 98, carries on in Hadley

  • Hilda Gruber,98, serves covers a order of ice cream in chocolate from Creamy Delights in Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hilda Gruber,98, talks about her years of serving ice cream. She now works with her daughter at Creamy Delights in Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hilda Gruber, 98, serves ice cream to Sandy Oldershaw from Creamy Delights in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hilda Gruber,98, serves covers a order of ice cream in chocolate from Creamy Delights in Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hilda Gruber,98, talks about her years of serving ice cream. She now works with her daughter at Creamy Delights in Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hilda Gruber,98, serves a banana split to Richard Dombek of Belchertown from Creamy Delights in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hilda Gruber, 98, talks about her years of serving ice cream. She now works with her daughter at Creamy Delights in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS



Staff Writer
Friday, May 31, 2019

HADLEY — Hilda Gruber remembers making and selling ice cream to families at the public swimming hole on her family’s dairy farm in Pennsylvania in the 1930s.

“We made homemade ice cream in those days,” Gruber says. “We had a farm and a swimming pool, and I was a lifeguard there.”

Now decades later, Gruber, 98, is a regular presence serving ice cream from a carnival cart on Lawrence Plain Road that her daughter, Pat McCarthy, has run for the past 16 years.

As people approach the window and place orders at Creamy Delights, Gruber turns to the Electro Freeze machine, where she pulls the lever to dispense the chocolate or vanilla soft serve into a dish or cone, and then prepares the ice cream to the customers’ liking, dipping a cone in hot fudge or adding sprinkles, nuts or Oreo bits.

“I like the customers up here, they’re really nice,” Gruber said. “If you’re nice to them, they’re nice to you.”

McCarthy brought the cart to the site in 2003, after many years doing festivals and state fairs across the country, including in Texas, Kansas, Minnesota and Louisiana

McCarthy specializes in New York-style ice cream, authentic ice cream with 10 percent milkfat that she gets from All Star Dairy. In addition to the hot fudge, made by Oringer, and the most popular topping, customers can order fresh strawberries and pineapples.

Though the stand also offers fresh squeezed lemonade and smoothies, as well as hamburgers and hot dogs prepared to order, McCarhy said 90 percent of the sales are the ice cream.

The cart opened in early April and will stay open into November, noon to 8 p.m. daily.

McCarthy said she is already seeing many of her regulars and, while business isn’t yet brisk, she expects it to pick up as the weather warms.

Even so, several people made it to the stand Thursday afternoon.

Gordy Palley of Pelham said Creamy Delights is his favorite place because of the quality of the ice cream. “It’s the best texture and best taste in the Valley,” Palley said.

While not homemade, Gruber said the ice cream is lot easier to handle than the days of family members taking turn cranking the old ice cream maker when she was girl.

Gruber, who loved to read and wintered in Florida before coming to Hadley to live with her daughter, doesn’t mind being on her feet for several hours a day.

“I keep going up here,” Gruber said. “If you just sit in a chair, your mind goes blank. If you keep active, everything stays active.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.