June 21, 2005


Time: 7:14 p.m.
Place: Castleton-On-Hudson, N.Y.

Alan: I think it's time to call it a wrap, my man.

I've pulled into Castleton-On-Hudson, which is this really cute, old-time village right on the Hudson at the 148 mile mark. It's a little past 7 o'clock and my crew, Rosemary Evans, showed up with the CRV and a little cooler action.

I downed some waters and juices and walked into Stewart's Ice Cream Shop for a little scooparooni - chocolate brownie fudge. I sprinkled a little trail mix on top of course for that healthy touch and fueled up for the final leg.

I expect to be at the capital lawn between 8 and 8:15 p.m.

It's just been an inspriring and awe-inspriring day. I really couldn't do the trip without great friends. It's been a real testimony to all the great support of the people who got behind this.

The sun is finally starting to hang a little low. It's the longest day of the year. I expect the sunset will be at about 8:30 p.m.

Like I said, I hope to get to the state capitol lawn by 8 p.m. We've got the cooler full of refreshments. We obviously don't have the park permit to party on the state lawn, but it'll will just have to be a little informal gathering.

Next stop: AL-Bany Noo York.

Until then... out!

Editor's Note: Stewart's Ice Cream Shops have a long history in the Hudson Valley.


In 1921, Percy W. and Charles V. Dake began making Dake's Delicious Ice Cream at the farm on Daketown Road in Greenfield, New York.

Saratoga Dairy was started in 1935 in the Old Patsy Hayes barn on Franklin Street in Saratoga Springs, NY. Owned and operated by P.W. and C.V. Dake, this plant pasteurized and bottled milk from many local farmers. With New York passing a law in 1935 stating that all milk had to be pasteurized, many dairy farmers would have dissolved had it not been for Saratoga Dairy and its modern equipment. In 1938, the Dake Brothers purchased the old city water works building on Excelsior Avenue, which became the new home of Saratoga Dairy. It provided the necessary space for anticipated growth and expansion.

In 1940, Stewart's acquired the "Big Barn" in the town of Greenfield, where cheese, powdered whey and casein were made. Milk was shipped to this plant from most of New England and as far away as Maryland. It was truly a blessing for farmers in the Eastern United States, since, at times, it was one of the few markets for their milk. With the fluid plant well underway, Stewart's Ice Cream Co. would become the next step in the dairy business for the Dake Brothers.

In 1945, the Dakes purchased a dairy, ice cream freezer, hardening room and shop from Donald Stewart of Ballston Spa, New York. The purchase of this plant coincided with the discharge of Charles S. Dake, son of C.V. Dake, from the Army. This young veteran, intrigued by the ice cream plant, decided to start production and sell ice cream in the shop located on busy Route 50, in Ballston Spa. The first Stewart's Shop was born! Two more shops were soon opened in Saratoga Springs and South Glens Falls. Since these were post-war times, people were starved for sweets and would stand in line waiting for cones.

In 1948, Stewart's was the first to introduce the square, folding half-gallon ice cream carton. During this same year, Phyllis E. Dake, Charlie's wife, introduced the idea of letting people make sundaes their own way with a choice of toppings and a bowl of ice cream. "Make Your Own Sundaes" were created and made famous by TV advertising on WRGB (the first TV station in the Capital District).

In 1950, Saratoga Dairy and Stewart's Ice Cream were incorporated. The ice cream manufacturing operation was moved from Ballston Spa to the "Big Barn" in Greenfield. By 1955, there were over 50 Stewart's Ice Cream Shops in operation. In 1957, Stewart's challenged the Department of Agriculture to get permission to sell their own milk, from Saratoga Dairy, to their own shops. With this approval came a 25% drop in retail milk pricing in the Capital District, and within a few months, the company held 10% of the milk market.

In 1959, Charlie took over the operation of Saratoga Dairy from his uncle. In 1960, he brought his brother, William P., into the company. As a graduate engineer of Cornell University, Bill brought with him the engineering expertise the company needed. In one year under his guidance, the dairy turned from a loss to a profit. The new combination of Dake Brothers, Charles S. and William P., developed Saratoga Dairy and Stewart's Ice Cream Co. to become one of the larger, more profitable privately owned dairy companies in the East.

In 1978 Charlie Dake died at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer. Following this devastating loss to the Dake family, friends and Stewart's, William P. carried on with the management of the Company as President.

In 1984 Gary C. Dake, son of William P., joined the company.

In 1994 a new dairy was built. The $4 million, 35,000 square foot building will maintain high quality standards into the next century. Stewart's also purchased the Bonfare chain, which included approximately 40 shops and 8 franchises.

In 2000 Stewart's increased its contribution budget to charitable organizations in their local communities to $1,000,000. Stewart's donates 5% of profits annually.

In 2003 Gary Dake became President of Stewart's Shops; William Dake is Chairman of the Board.

Today, more than 80 years later, there are over 300 Stewart's Shops. The company continues to sell the same fine quality dairy products and ice cream that made them famous, and has a complete line of convenience groceries, food-to-go items, bank machines, and, in most shops, gasoline to meet the needs of their customers' ever-changing lifestyles.

Posted by Jeff at June 21, 2005 07:14 PM | TrackBack
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