Archive for Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Old-time ice cream plant now for sale

March 8, 2006

A Tonganoxie landmark -- the former Franklin Ice Cream plant -- is for sale.

The sprawling white stucco building is on County Road 5, across the street from VFW Memorial Park.

According to local historian John Lenahan, the building dates to the 1880s when it served as a canning factory. In the early 1900s it was a condenser plant, and from 1922 until 1958 it was known as the ice cream plant.

Since then, the building has housed various businesses, including a paint factory and, later, construction-related businesses.

The building and four acres are owned by Tonganoxie-area resident Dennis Workman.

Though today the building shows signs of its century of wear and tear, Basehor resident Anna Mary Landauer remembers its glory days.

Landauer, who is 87, worked at the ice cream plant from 1936 until 1943.

Landauer smiled excitedly as she rattled off the names of dozens of people who worked at -- or along with --the ice cream plant.

There were the drivers who drove their routes -- from around the county as far as Topeka -- each day to pick up milk at farms. And there were the farm owners -- such as her mother -- who milked cows twice a day and sold milk to those drivers.

Landauer recalled seeing the trucks lined up in both directions on the highway in front of the plant -- waiting to drive up the ramp and deliver milk.

That same day, she said, the milk and ice cream mix would be shipped to Kansas City.

"On the average, we'd send in 1,500-gallon tanks, two a day," Landauer said. "One was the whole milk and one of them was ice cream mix."

And, after delivering the products, the Franklin trucks hauled frozen ice cream, as well as other dairy products, back to be sold.

"Every morning it was my duty, before nine o'clock, to call all the people here in Jarbalo, and George Haight's little grocery store, to find out how much ice cream they wanted," Landauer said. "And then I called Kansas City so that the driver who took the milk or ice cream mix could bring it back."

Laudauer said she was paid $9.50 a week for working 6 1/2 days.

"You get that in one hour now," she said with a chuckle.

But, she said, her work had a sweet benefit.

"We could go out to the coils and get a cup of what they were making -- fudge or any kind of ice cream mix," Landauer said. "It was cold -- we'd have our malts right there."

Even then, she had a hankering for the frozen stuff.

"I walked every day up to Cain's Drug Store and had a malt," Landauer said.

She noted that Cains sold, of course, ice cream bought through the Franklin plant.

The Franklin plant also manufactured ice. Landauer said it was made in 300-pound chunks. And, the company sold milking supplies such as cotton strainers and milk cans, to farmers.

Landauer said her job, which offered a one-week vacation after a year of work, came with a understood rule.

"If you get married, you don't have a job," Landauer said. "All the women that worked there, when they got married, they left."

Today, 63 years after working at the plant, Landauer grins when she talks about it.

"I really had a ball over there," she said. "And I was the only woman that worked there for a long time."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.