The Y Store
For a long time now, as I’ve heard stories from my husband about his hometown, and adventures while growing up, I’ve heard of him mentioning a place called The Y Store. Apparently, when he was a kid, and his family owned a cabin right on a lake in Northern Minnesota, they would stop at The Y Store often. It used to be an old-fashioned store that had a little ice cream parlor that churned out some unique, and good, ice cream flavors. In fact, I think I had heard my brother-in-law say once that The Y Store had the best ice cream in the area. When I visited my husband’s family for the first time in Minnesota last year, we had actually, on our trip to his family home and a long day on the road, stopped by The Y Store with his sister- and brother-in-law. My brother-in-law had asked if anyone was interested in having some ice cream, but since we were on our way to meet my in-laws for dinner, we all decided that ice cream might not be such a good idea this time around, so we didn’t go in. I was slightly disappointed at the time, but ice cream really wasn’t the best idea then.
This year, before we headed to Minnesota on vacation again, I told my husband that I wanted to go to The Y Store if possible and have some of the ice cream. He kept telling me that it wasn’t anything special and that I was making too big of a deal out of it. But hey, ice cream is ice cream and you can’t keep me away from ice cream. So he kept saying, “we’ll see…” On our trip this year, we all went out together one day on an adventure to the nearby Soudan Underground Mine which until 1962 had operated a huge iron ore underground mine. On our way to the mine, we actually passed The Y Store! When we got to the mine, I asked my husband if we could perhaps stop at The Y Store on our way home for some ice cream. He was non-committal about it saying again, “we’ll see…” Sadly, we didn’t end up going home after the mine tour, but ended up heading even further north and away from The Y Store. I thought that our chances for going to The Y Store were lost. But, over dinner, someone mentioned that we should stop at The Y Store on the way home for dessert! I was so happy, as this was my opportunity to finally visit a place I had heard my husband talk about often.
As a kid growing up, the store that existed 5 miles south of Tower, Minnesota near the junction of Highway 169 and County Road 77 was known as The Y Store. Everyone in the area knew of it and my husband’s family would often stop for ice cream. At some point in time, The Y Store was bought out by a larger company and its name was changed to The Ledge Liquor Store. But it had been The Y Store for so long that everyone still called it by that name and no one referred to it as The Ledge. Soon, the owners of The Ledge decided to go back to the original name of the store. So, today, this store stands as The Y Store. The Y Store is like a lot of roadside gas stations you find on highways that service travelers who are coming and going. You can fill up on gas, there’s a small mini-mart for drinks, snacks and basic essentials, a food service counter, and a small ice cream counter, to name a few of the amenities. However, one thing I’ve never seen before, and perhaps it’s because I didn’t grow up in a location such as this, in the back of the shop there’s a bait station. There are large tubs filled with water that are set up and stocked with various types of fishing bait. Fisherman on their way to Lake Vermillion can stop here, load up on bait and then head on out to the lake.
When we arrived at The Y Store that day, the ice cream counter was busy with others who obviously had the same idea we did. I guess what makes the ice cream counter at The Y Store so popular is that they generally feature varied and unique flavors of ice cream. However, the day we arrived, my husband’s family was a little disappointed in the lackluster selection of ice cream flavors they offered. But, seeing as we were already there, I was going to order ice cream regardless. In the end, only myself, my brother-in-law and my father-in-law partook in ice cream. Everyone except me opted for the Toffee crunch ice cream, which judging by the way they ate it, was pretty good. For me, I opted for the French Silk Pie ice cream. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a French Silk Pie before, but after having this ice cream, I get the feeling I’d like French Silk Pie. The ice cream was sweet and smooth and I loved the additions of chocolate chunk in the ice cream. I liked the ice cream wasn’t too overly sweet with chocolate flavor and too overpowering. Even though my husband didn’t get ice cream, he couldn’t resist having some of mine. What I loved is when the man behind the counter finished scooping the ice cream, he looked and me and asked if what he scooped was ok. So polite! As if it wouldn’t be ok. At any other place I’ve been to, this would be like a double scoop of ice cream! I get the feeling if I had told him I wanted more he would have scooped more for me too!
Once we had gotten our ice cream and were ready to hit the road, we realized that it was pouring rain outside – as in torrential rain! All of a sudden the sky opened up and we were trapped in the store. We thought we’d try to wait it out a few minutes, but it didn’t seem to be letting up at all. So, we decided to make a break for it. Luckily, me and my ice cream cone survived the run out to the car without too much damage! I enjoyed the car ride home; me with my delicious ice cream in the middle of a thunderstorm!