by Ann Angel Eberhardt


Isaly’s advertising art in the mid-1960s featured the Swiss Lad, a skyscraper cone and the tag line “Peak of Quality” as an allusion to the family operated company’s Swiss heritage. Source: Wikipedia

On the Southwest corner of Fourth and Main streets was an Isaly’s Dairy, one of many in a chain throughout Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. This store, like most Isaly’s, had a gleaming art deco storefront, faced with white and black Carrara glass tiles and a spotlessly clean interior.

Isaly’s carried their own brand of milk, butter, eggs and even coffee, but also sold the creamiest and most delicious ice cream, in cartons or in their signature Skyscraper cones. When relatives came to visit, Dad would walk to Isaly’s and buy a half gallon of neapolitan [blocks of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream side by side in the same container]  which Mother would open and slice like pound cake. Or maybe she’d order plain vanilla which was scooped into glasses of root beer for frosty nose-tickling floats. Mom’s personal favorite flavor was an Isaly’s exclusive named White House, vanilla ice cream filled with maraschino cherries. It was okay, I guess, but who would want that when you could get CHOCOLATE?!

Isaly’s was then owned by the [Peter] Joyce family but a dairy store at the same location was operated by my father’s first cousin Frank Shannon and his family, according to the 1930 U.S. Census. I don’t know if it was called Isaly’s in 1930 or not. (Frank Shannon is visible in an easily found 1940 photo of Sharpsville volunteer firefighters. He’s kneeling in the front row between George Wasilko and John Joyce.)

That store is where we bought our comic books; I don’t think Stewart’s Market [on Seventh Street] had any. (Warren probably didn’t want a passel of kids hanging around trying to read them for free.) Every week my brother Jack and I would stop in and check for new editions of our favorites. Mine, Wonder Woman, and his, Superman, but we both liked and might settle for a Captain Marvel, Plastic Man or Straight Arrow.

Very rarely, a Sheena of the Jungle would show up, delighting this girl’s heart. I didn’t mind spending fifteen cents on a “Sheena” that couldn’t be traded to boys; they weren’t worthy of her anyway. Comic books were a valuable commodity, read through four or five times before being loaned or traded with friends. You were thought well of if you had a stack to barter, but reputations could be ruined if loaned comics were lost, mistreated or not returned.

sharpsville_image_isaly's bookAnyone interested in more information on the Isaly’s Dairy chain should read pop culture historian, Brian Butko’s book Klondikes, Chipped Ham & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly’s. [Stackpole Books: Mechanicsburg, PA, 2001. 112 pp.]

– Irene Caldwell O’Neill (SHS 1960), Escondido, California, March 2013.