seventeen years, between 1972 and 1989, Spokane enjoyed a magical spot
like nothing this town has seen since. If your youth fell within those
years, chances are you shared many happy occasions there gobbling the
rich ice cream treats like the Lilac Hurricane or the Circus, a
deliciously rich concoction designed to feed 12 people at once. And you
had to have drooled over the endless candy bins filled with such a wide
variety that no one's favorite sweets could have possibly been
Located in the Parkade downtown, the Early Dawn Ice Creamery had the
festive decor and attention to quality that would have made it seem
right at home on Main Street in Disneyland. It makes you wonder why
nothing has come along like it in the years since. Maybe it's because
there's not been someone with the drive and creativity like Roy Nyholm
to come along.
"I got the bug early life watching Farrells,"
the 91 year old Roy said recently in an interview, adding that Farells,
a now-defunct national ice cream parlor chain, provided the
inspiration for such touches as the barbershop- quartet straw hats
worn by the servers at the Ice Creamery. Actually, Roy put in many
years and long hours in the family-owned business, Early Dawn Dairy,
before getting to his dream.
"During the war I was stationed
in Spokane and would work from midnight to eight in the morning at
Baxter General Hospital and then go out to the dairy and take a
wholesale route along Sprague," said Roy, who now lives in Rock Pointe
retirement center with his of 67 years, Marie. It was Marie's father
Harold Anderson who started Early Dawn Dairy in 1923 at Ruby and
"Gonzaga was always our best route," he said. "I would often deliver a
full case of milk and half a case of eggs to one house. The Catholics
had big families back then, you know."
Roy said Harold soon outgrew the Mission location
and bought 10 acres at Best Road and 24th in the Valley. In 1949,
Harold took on Roy and Marie's two brothers Wes and Hal as partners and
they all had their hands full running the successful business that grew
to employ 225 workers with more than 200 hundred cows on 80 acres of
pasture land. But still Roy had that bug.
"I just thought we
ought to branch out," Roy responded when asked why they went into the
ice cream parlor business. Since it was Roy's idea, it was Roy's
responsibility to make it work and he did it by working hard.
I would often go in to clean the carpets at closing and still be there
when we opened the next day," he said, adding that the Ice Creamery
became successful with the help of Expo 74 and they soon added stores
in Kalispel and Bellevue.
"Roy would go to work at 4 in the
morning and then come home at 7:30 and say, feed me quick Marie, I've
got to deliver ice cream to Montana," Marie said. Small wonder that
Roy suffered a heartattack in 1990 and had a triple-by pass, leading to
the decision to sell the ice cream parlors which failed with the new
"They changed too many things," Roy said.
the soups," Marie added, " People used to come in just for our soup. We
used to sell 15 gallons of clam chowder every Friday and Saturday!"
From great soups and sandwiches, to heavenly ice cream and candy, Roy
created and ran a wonderful factory of cherished memories. It's just a
shame that in today's world of atmosphere-rich chain restaurants you
have to take the kids all the way to Anaheim or Orlando to get the
experience Roy once gave us right here.