By Lou Bernard
February 14, 2013
Who likes ice cream? Show of hands. Me, too.
So did Byron Achenbach. Byron was born in 1860. He grew up in Sugar Valley and moved into Lock Haven in 1898 to open a popular ice cream parlor. The parlor was at the corner of Main Street and Fallon Alley. It’s where Fitness Unlimited now stands. Make of it what you will.
So, for Valentine’s Day, let’s all take our sweethearts on a trip through the past. I mean, not me. I’ve been married for ten years; the honeymoon’s over. But for you college kids, let’s take our Valentines to Achenbach’s Ice Cream parlor.
Achenbach was very community-minded, and often hosted events or donated ice cream to various events going on in Lock Haven. Directly inside the door to his shop was a glass display case that always held something appropriate to whatever time of year it was. A marble soda fountain dispensed Coke or Moxie, which is a soda that I’ve always thought tasted like muddy toothpaste. But apparently a century ago, people drank it voluntarily. Byron always hired local teens to run the soda operations – many prominent businessmen in Lock Haven started their careers dispensing sodas at Achenbach’s.
In the days when Lock Haven Hospital stood on Susquehanna Avenue, the hospital staff would always have a nice holiday meal for their patients. This often consisted of roast turkey and trimmings, and after the meal, ice cream would invariably be donated by Achenbach’s ice cream parlor. There was never a holiday that went by that didn’t have ice cream donated and delivered by Byron.
He enjoyed the ice cream business so much that he had a marble Neapolitan ice cream block constructed and placed in the sidewalk in front of his building. It remains there to this day—A white, brown, and pink slab of stone stepped over by hundreds of people daily. I first noticed it when I moved to Lock Haven in 1990, and it took me years to figure out what this thing was and where it came from. And I’m giving this information to you for free. You’re welcome. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Lou Bernard is the Adult Services Coordinator for Ross Library and can be contacted at email@example.com