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  • G. L. Gooding

Remember When: Chocolate Boston

Is there anyone out there besides me, and maybe my long-lost roommates from college, who has ever heard of and enjoyed a Chocolate Boston? I don’t know if this was an official name or one made up by our group one Spring too many years ago. A Chocolate Boston was my favorite concoction at the local Dairy Queen in Macomb, Illinois - home of Western Illinois University. That is where I finished my undergraduate work before heading to the University of Illinois for grad school after two years serving Uncle Sam.

A Chocolate Boston consisted of a triple thick soft-serve chocolate shake to which was added a large dollop of vanilla and topped with enough hot fudge that it spilled off the sides. Yum. My Chocolate Boston’s played a major part in a significant weight gain Junior year.

I’d transferred to Western from junior college where I’d proven to my parents that I likely had the staying power to get the first college degree in the family. I arrived carrying less than 140 pounds on my six-foot frame thanks to a bout of tonsilitis that ultimately required surgery. There were four of us that rented an incredibly woeful apartment with two rooms with bunkbeds a less than sterile kitchen and even less hygienic bathroom above a beauty shop.

My bunk mate was a friend from the same school and town as I had. Roommate three was in his mid-twenties from Nutley, New Jersey. The fourth was from Champaign, Illinois - home of the U of I. He was brilliant enough to easily have attended the university in the state. The chance to escape family had him sharing our less than appealing environs.

It didn’t take long for us to fall into an after-class routine that ultimately caused two of the four to flunk out. If not for my ‘A’ in physical education, still a requirement back in these dark ages, the count would have been three. This routine consisted of almost anything but studying. We ate late while playing endless hands of Pinnacle. (In one quarter, we played over 500 games.)

Thanks to the guy from Champaign, we ate excellent, large, mainly pasta meals. Not only could this fellow pass graduate level courses with ease, he was an incredible cook, musician, and one of the original techno-geeks. I assume you can guess which of us had no fear of flunking out.

So, most evenings, well after the hour all of us should have been concentrating on homework, the ritual would begin again. It was usually triggered by our older pal from Jersey. He would call out from his bunk, “how about we take a break and play a game.” This was usually followed by silence before a second appeal went out. By this time, three out of four were on board.

The last holdout, I’d like to say it was always me, but it wasn’t, folded under the pressure. The curtain dividing our two small rooms flew back, the card table emerged from its corner, and the first hand was practically on the table before the chairs arrived. Needless to say, we never played just one game. We usually interrupt the competition almost every night just before ten.

You see, ten was the closing time for the Dairy Queen which was just over three minutes away, unless we running late. How did we know that, you may ask? Simple. We knew how close we could cut it and still make the run in my 1962 Studebaker Lark V-8. I was the only one with a car at the time.

At some time before ten one of us, I’ll blame our Nutley friend again, would look at the clock and suggest a break for dessert. Our resistance magically lasted until there was just enough time to hit the DQ before closing. Gleefully we capitulated and took off, like the place was on fire, out the back door, down the long stairs, and into the car.

We had assigned seats in the car. My hometown friend rode shotgun while the others pounded on the back seat urging me on. It had only taken a few test runs to find the shortest route (one that took less than three minutes). This ensured arriving just as the owner was turning off the neon signs. He would not bother turning them back on when we screeched to a halt in front of his stand, but he left the lights on inside long enough to fill our familiar orders.

Then it was back to our humble abode (in the same three minutes). There, we fell in our bunks and slowly consumed our choices. I don’t remember what the others had, but as I drained my Chocolate Boston, I do recall my New Jersey mate saying, “ah, if we could just figure out a way to have a hose run from the DQ right to our bunks, it would be heaven.” He got no argument.


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