Award-winning journalist Richie Davis’ new book, “Good Will & Ice Cream” is a collection of stories spanning four decades. The pieces were originally published in The Recorder, the daily newspaper in Franklin County where Davis worked as a reporter for nearly 45 years.
He shared some of his favorite moments from the book with us in the studio.
Listen to Richie Davis talk about penning Good Will & Ice Cream.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Award-winning journalist Richie Davis’ new book, “Goodwill and Ice Cream,” is a collection of stories spanning four decades and were originally published in The Recorder, the daily newspaper in Franklin County, where Davis worked as a reporter for nearly 45 years. He shared some of his favorite moments from the book with us in the studio.
Richie Davis, “Good Will and Ice Cream” Author : In 2007, I did a story about Tiny Stacey, who was from Holden, Mass, outside of Worcester. And he was a larger-than-life character in many ways. He was six foot four, 300 pounds, had a storied history and went on to be the chauffeur for the Dalai Lama. And I’ll read a part of the story.
When the Supreme Tibetan spiritual leader spoke at Amherst College in 1979, college dropout Paul “Tiny” Stacey was there and became so enthralled that he turned out the following night to hear him at Harvard University. And even though he was still, quote, “in the grip of the grape,” the gentle big man decided when he heard about the Dalai Lama’s return a couple of years later, that he’d offered to work as his bodyguard.
That meant drying out at a New Hampshire retreat where he meditated, recalls Steve Rothman, a longtime friend. Stacey continued bringing food to the elderly and organizing benefits to help Vietnam vets. He’d move where, wherever he could help the most, Rothman remembers. He was like water, like a rivulet.
Six weeks after getting out of this hospital in New Hampshire, Stacey’s bushy gray bearded friend recalls, Tiny was driving the Dalai Lama in his Tiny-sized car and serving as official chauffeur.
Both men, strikingly similar as humble, compassionate and lighthearted human beings, hit it off like brothers separated at birth. It sounds hard to believe, but en route from the Adirondacks to Boston, on their first detail together, the two stopped off at a Howard Johnson’s on the Mass Pike to split a frankfurter, because the Tibetan leader says he wondered what Americans really eat.
Even more incredibly, Rothman says the Dalai Lama and Tiny wrestled in a playful way that suggested that the statesmen in exile, hailed at age two as Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th leader of Tibet, was happy to simply find a kindred soul with whom he could play despite their vastly different corporal manifestations.
At the same time, Rothman says of Stacey, his love and respect for the Dalai Lama was as big as Tiny was, and meeting the spiritual leader helped him find what he had been searching for in life.
I’ll read a second story. This one is from the title story here, which I called the “Tour de Creme” in the book. In 2007, I was invited by my editor to do a tour of Franklin County ice cream Stands. And so I took along my 13 year-old buddy Ethan to describe what he was seeing. Two day tour, 17 ice cream stands.
We head over to the Bart’s Parlor on Main Street, where owner Alan Sachs proudly holds a one ounce cone, a French vanilla — you buy ice cream by the ounce there — perpendicular to the floor to demonstrate how stable it is. In addition to a whole lot of Bart’s and Snow’s hard ice creams and sorbets, there’s also double dutch chocolate nonfat frozen yogurt to keep dieters from sinning.
But Sachs boasts that the frozen custard is a glorious thing not known in this area, eggy-er and more decadent.
“Oh, that’s a breed of its own,” wails Ethan. “I could never get enough of that. My tongue keeps hoping it’ll be finding more.”
He cleanses his young palate with water as we drive to Friendly’s, there a request for a watermelon roll cone, a seasonal concoction, I remember as having chocolate chip seeds and lemon-lime rind is met with a blank stare from the young takeout window attendant. So, instead we settle for a cup of watermelon sherbet.
“That’s very refreshing,” remarks Ethan. “It reminds me of a late night club in uptown Manhattan.”
Hmm. I do a double take reminding myself that this is a 13 year-old kid from the wilds of bucolic Montague. He adds, “It’s very light and happy and it pops in your mouth and it’s cold. That’s the color of bright, hot pink markers you’d find in a classroom.”
At Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield, which scoops out nine flavors of Herrell’s ice cream, we choose a cup of malted vanilla and Ethan is beside himself.
“It’s splendid, he raves. It tastes like you’re eating malted milk balls. That’s so complex with flavors piled on top of each other, the ice cream tastes like it’s flowing in your mouth. I wonder what the cows would think of this? It’s like being in an old country store.”