Memories Remembered and Made

       I remember the first time I ever heard of a date malt some 28 years ago.  We were vacationing in California driving out near Palm Springs and my mom kept talking about a date malt.  There were billboards alongside the road advertising dates and items made from dates for sale.  We arrived at a store in the middle of the desert and found all things date related inside.  I don’t remember the exact details from that point on but my guess is my sister and I grumbled about having to stop, pretended we were going to puke when we tasted a date and expressed utter disgust when my mom was trying to enjoy her date malt. 



     Fast forward 28 years and I’m traveling with my own family along that same path.  I hadn’t thought of date malts for 28 years but suddenly something from the back of my mind popped up along with memories of riding the desert tram.  I remembered the date stand and the date malts.  We were traveling on the interstate that parallels Highway 111 and there weren’t any roadside stands on the Interstate.  There were billboards advertising casinos and outlet malls but none mentioning dates.  The thought of a date malt wouldn’t leave my brain and the search for the date stand became a quest.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t remember what one tasted like or that I remembered not necessarily liking one I just had to have a date malt.


     I looked through my California book and found what I was looking for.  We exited the Interstate into what looked like a brand new development.  New buildings, shopping centers and restaurants lined the street.  Then I spotted it, kiddy corner across from Home Depot stood the Shields Date Store.  Inside the store looked the same as I remembered it with probably even some of the same gifts for sale.


     All kinds of dates lined the shelves of the store.  I never knew there were so many different varieties of dates until I stepped up to the counter for a free sample.  Big ones, little ones, sweet ones, and names I couldn’t pronounce and certainly can’t spell.  There were date rolls, date bread, date logs, date bars and then variations of all of those with other fruits such as mango or pineapple.  I was like a shark in the middle of a feeding frenzy when I heard my name being called.  I turned to see Mike looking at me with astonishment in his eyes.  “Don’t you think that’s enough? Aren’t you going to get sick? Are you still going to have a malt?”


     I backed away from the free sample counter to re-assess the situation.  Yes, I probably did have enough samples, yes, I was probably going to get sick and yes, I still wanted a date malt, that’s what we were there for right?


     Back in the vehicle with a date malt in my hand I was happy as a lark.  I asked the kids what they thought about the dates.  Neither of the kids liked them and I don’t think Mike was impressed either since he ordered a pecan malt.  I was smiling from ear to ear as I sat eating the best tasting malt I had ever had.


     It wasn’t that I suddenly had acquired a taste for dates.  I can’t say that I like dates or that it’s something I would want to eat on a regular basis.  It was just knowing my mom had once eaten a date malt and enjoyed it in that very place that made me want to do the same thing.  Somehow I wanted to feel a connection to my mom and it was that familiarity that made the malt so wonderful.   


     I of course wish I could be proud of how I acted that day so many years ago.  Why couldn’t I have just sat and enjoyed a malt with my mom all of those years ago?  Why did I have to be such a brat? 


     While neither of my kids enjoyed the date malt today I sure did.  And I enjoyed being with my kids and sharing my happy thoughts of my mom with them.  Sharing old memories of days gone by, creating new ones and experiencing the wonderful taste of a date malt.