Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Memories of sundaes, wood type & more in Two Rivers November 14, 2022

A strawberry sundae served in a heavy tulip glass at the replica Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor, Two Rivers, Wisconsin. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

EVERY DAY IS NATIONAL something or other day, right? Typically I hear or read about a national whatever designation and then promptly forget. But not National Sundae Day, which was Friday, November 11. Not wanting to detract from the really important designation for that date, Veterans Day, I delayed posting about this.

Signage marks the entry to the birthplace of the ice cream sundae in 1881. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

When I heard about National Sundae Day, I was also reminded of the soda fountain owner who invented the sundae in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, back in 1881. I’ve been inside the Washington House, where Edward Berners first topped a dish of ice cream with chocolate sauce in a treat initially sold only on Sundays.

The historic Washington House in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

Today visitors to The Washington House Museum and Visitor Center can still purchase sundaes and other treats inside this former 1850 hotel with replica ice cream parlor. I did in 2011, when Randy, our daughter Miranda, our son Caleb and I visited this charming Lake Michigan side town. At the time, Miranda lived in Appleton about an hour to the west.

The sprawling Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

While the rest of my family headed to the ice cream parlor, I lagged behind at the neighboring Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. The working museum houses the world’s largest collection of type. For someone like me, with a journalism background and past employment at a weekly newspaper that used old typesetting equipment, this museum held great interest. I love old type. I love letterpress. I love the artsy look, the craftsmanship, the hands-on passion in creating. The ice cream sundae could wait.

A glimpse inside the working museum. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

Eleven years after my tour of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, I remember the joy I felt in being there. I remember, too, how the tour guide chided me for taking photos. Apparently he found my photographing intrusive, even though I lingered at the back far from other visitors. Despite his reaction, I still delighted in the smell of ink, the slim drawers holding type, the chunky blocks of wood type, the artsy results inked onto paper.

Beautiful Lake Michigan at Two Rivers. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

A snippet of the historic Rogers Street Fishing Village. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

A simply bucolic scene of Two Rivers. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

And I delighted, too, in the community of Two Rivers. I recall its quaintness and beautiful natural setting along Lake Michigan. I recall, too, the historic Rogers Street Fishing Village. Just thinking about this eastern Wisconsin community makes me want to return. To view the expansive lake and follow the sandy beach. To take in weathered fishing boats and learn of lake lore. To meander through a museum that smells of ink with camera in hand. And then, finally, to step inside the Washington House ice cream parlor, the birthplace of the sundae, to savor a sundae served on more than just Sundays.

My second daughter and my son order ice cream sundaes at the replica Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor during a 2011 visit to Two Rivers. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo August 2011)

TELL ME: Have you been to Two Rivers? What’s your favorite sundae flavor? Do you share my interest in wood type and printing? Yes, lots of questions today.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A photographic escape to Two Rivers, Wisconsin May 3, 2013

A sign inside the historic Washington Museum and Visitor Center in Two Rivers.

A sign inside the historic Washington Museum and Visitor Center in Two Rivers.

HAVE YOU EVER DRIVEN into a community you’ve never visited and fell totally, absolutely, head-over-heels in love with the place?

For me, that would be Two Rivers, along Lake Michigan in northeastern Wisconsin.

Nearly two years have passed since I toured this community which claims to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae. I love ice cream as much as the next person and savored my sundae at Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor, established in 1881.

Signage on the exterior of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum.

Signage on the exterior of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum.

But even more so, I loved the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum across the street, a magnet for artists and former newspaper types like me who view print as art and not just a means to publish news. I wrote about the museum shortly after my family’s visit there in August 2011. Click here to read that post.

A view of Two Rivers from the historic fishing village.

A view of Two Rivers from the historic fishing village.

Besides treats and type, Two Rivers wooed me with the Rogers Street Fishing Village. From there I photographed a dreamy, idyllic view of the town complete with a white steepled church in the background. Although I’ve never been to New England, I imagine the scene might be similar to a quaint fishing village there.

Cool signage.

Cool signage.

And then there’s the signage in Two Rivers—those details I notice because, well, I tend to notice details. I appreciate artful signage that beckons me.

Although I didn't stop at this fish market, the exterior charmed me.

The exterior of Susie-Q Fish Market charmed me.

Today I long to return to Two Rivers 356 miles to the east. But for this moment, viewing photo memories must suffice to lift my winter weary spirits, to erase the doom and the gloom and the visual of the snow which is falling here again this morning.

I will imagine for this day that I am among the good folks of Two Rivers, in a community where optimism, faith and good news prevail.

BONUS PHOTOS:

A snippet of small town life inside the Washington House.

A snippet of small town life inside the Washington House.

I was amused by the names of the docked boats.

I was amused by the names of the docked boats.

The Dutch Lady

Dutch Lady

Why would you name your boat Fishing Pox

Why would you name your boat Fishing Pox II? Is there a Fishing Pox I?

A simple fish shed sign in the fishing village.

A simple fish shed sign in the fishing village.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling