When I was growing up in Canton, Georgia, one of the most exiting days of the year was Opening Day. Not the Braves Opening Day at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium…better..,opening day of the DQ. The line of teens in Cherokee Warrior T-shirts, parents holding toddlers, old couples holding hands, businessmen in ties, doctors and lawyers in suits, was so long, it would wrap around the side of the building and snake up into the Rutledge’s shaded yard. Standing in that line, no one grumbled and complained. We caught up with our friends and neighbors…we learned who had broken up with whom “and right before prom! My goodness what a jerk!”
Our town was small, our county not congested (we had one high school in all of Cherokee County). It didn’t take much to make us happy. We didn’t have a McDonald’s or a Waffle House, we had a Burger Chief and a Happy Kitchen (and they served us well). But the DQ, owned by the Rutledge family, was a summer treat. They only served dairy products and Slushies…. No burgers, hotdogs or Cokes. And it was only open from late spring to early fall.
The Dairy Queen is still there, in the same location, but it is no longer owned by the Rutledge family and it’s no longer the only DQ in town. And for reasons I don’t understand, the ice cream and shakes from the old DQ on Highway 5, taste better than they do at new one. The treats served up at the original taste like summer. And home.