Dear Julia & Poydras,
I remember as a child we would get, I believe it was a free, sample of ice cream at the creamery on Carrollton Avenue and another creamery on Airline Highway. Not sure if Brown’s Velvet, Walker-Roemer, or Borden’s. What a treat! – Ray Gremillion (New Roads, LA)
By the creamery on Carrollton Avenue, I assume you are talking about what was the Cloverland Dairy. Part of the building at 3400 N. Carrollton still stands, only, when the dairy shut down, the property was eventually taken over by the post office. The distinguished white Renaissance-style terra cotta façade of the building was kept and incorporated into the remodeling for the post office. It was a good example of the feds being sensitive to classic design. What did not survive the cut, however, was a water tower shaped like a milk bottle which stood 140 feet above the building. It was capable of collecting 20 tons of water used for cleaning vehicles and the building’s exterior.
Of all the local dairies, what really distinguished Cloverland was its up-to-date pasteurizing equipment. Milk quality was a major public health issue, so the dairy got some consumer points by developing a system for sanitized milk.
Yes, the dairy did operate an ice cream stand next to its factory for public sales. We’re not sure about the free samples, though it is not uncommon for ice cream shops to offer a small taste to customers trying to settle on a flavor.
In the 1960s Cloverland sold to Sealtest, a big national corporation, which was ultimately sold to Kraft Co., and then became part of Breyers and on and on.
Another dairy, Borden’s, once operated a facility and shop on Airline Highway in Metairie. Poydras remembers the day that a kid-friendly, street driven Borden’s train came to the dairy. Kids stood in a long line to be lifted into the engine where they could pull a rope to blow the whistle. Elsie the Cow made a public appearance and waved to her fans. It was not until years later that Poydras learned that real cows neither make public appearances nor wave to fans.
Gold Seal Creamery, which was owned by the Centanni family, operated a creamery on South Alexander and D’Hemecourt near Canal Street. The building included an ornate shop for walk-in customer service. The Centannis were known for their Christmas lights on their Canal Street mansion. Gold Seal was known for its local classic Creole Cream Cheese ice cream. The business closed in 1986. The building was converted into apartments and still stands, known as the Gold Seal Lofts.
Finally, all of the above no longer exists, but there is one grand purveyor of store-made ice cream in the neighborhood – Angelo Brocato’s at 214 N. Carrollton St. This is perhaps New Orleans’ finest ice cream maker and, unlike the dairies, also includes ices (try the classic lemon ice) and Italian flavors. To quote Louis Prima in his song “Angelina, the Waitress at the Pizzeria,”
“I will meet in matrimony the girl who serves spumoni.”
If not, the rum raisin is good too.
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