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Worth the Drive: Five Points Dairy Bar

DAIRY BAR TWIST

Step back in time at Five Points Dairy Bar

By Jennifer Kornegay

In 1931, the infamous trial of the “Scottsboro boys” contributed a dark chapter to our state’s story and put Scottsboro, Alabama, in a harsh spotlight. But it’s shaken off that past, and today is a thriving little city.

More than 1 million visitors a year flock to find treasures at Unclaimed Baggage, a store that sells the contents of forever-lost luggage at discount prices. Folks also search for old, odd and just plain interesting items at one of the country’s longest-running trade days, held for almost a century on Sundays around Jackson Square. Anglers and boaters enjoy the bountiful population of big bass and sparkling waters of Lake Guntersville.

But there’s more to this spot in the northeast corner of Alabama than history, unique shopping opportunities and lake living. It’s got a sweet side too, and you can get a cold, creamy taste of it at Five Points Dairy Bar, an ice cream stand founded in 1941 that still looks pretty much like it did when walk-up lunch counters and “dairy bars” were a common sight across the American landscape.

Giant cones with swirls of vanilla soft serve and a vintage snowman signal passersby from the flat-top roof, which shades the order window, a few chairs and a hot pink picnic table. Duck under it to escape the heat and give the menu board a read. Craving a juicy cheeseburger? A fried bologna sandwich or a patty melt? You know you want a sundae or maybe a banana split, too. How about an old-fashioned float? When you’ve decided, approach the window and a friendly face will greet you as it slides open. “What’re you having?” it will ask.

The Dairy Bar is a popular spot and has been since it opened more than 80 years ago. Darryll and Loria Carroll Flowers are the current owners and have been running it with the help of their daughter Amanda for the last two years. “The place has such a history behind it,” Loria says. “We have one couple, and they’re in their late 70s, and they come here from Birmingham every few months. The man proposed to his bride decades ago on a bench we still have sitting out front.” She has her own fond memories, too. “I remember coming here as a kid, and then there was seating inside. The original solid cedar cooler is still here.”

Others reminisce about being brought to the barbershop that once occupied the small building next to the Dairy Bar. “They’ll tell me that their parents promised them a Dairy Bar ice cream cone if they behaved during their haircut,” Loria says.

“Our cheeseburgers are our best seller,” she adds. I get fresh beef ground every day, and your burger is made when you order it. I never use frozen meat, and we never make them ahead.” So be prepared to wait 15 minutes or so for yours.

If you didn’t order an ice cream treat before, and even if your stomach is telling your brain that it is satisfied, walk back over to the window, knock on it if you must (but you shouldn’t need to alert the attentive staff), and order a blueberry milkshake.

It’s not the best seller – that’s the peanut butter shake made with the Dairy Bar’s recipe hailing back to 1952 – but it’s divine. Plump blueberries are blended with soft-serve vanilla ice cream and milk to create a thick shake that’s not too sweet but packed with a blast of pure berry freshness.

If you go for a banana split, you’ll find it topped with “wet walnuts,” something Loria explains most places don’t do anymore. “We soak the nuts in syrup,” she says. “It’s a great addition.”

There’s even ‘50s music playing under the overhang, and a black and white photo of Marilyn Monroe stuck to one of the windows, completing the trip back in time. “It’s just a special place that has been a part of a lot of people’s lives,” Loria says. “And a new generation is loving it now.”

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Jennifer Kornegay is the author of a new children’s book, “The Alabama Adventures of Walter and Wimbly: Two Marmalade Cats on a Mission.” She travels to an out-of-the way restaurant destination in Alabama every month. She may be reached for comment at j_kornegay@charter.net.