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Cote's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream | The Best Darned Ice Cream In the Whole State of Maine

In the marriage, Paul makes the ice cream, Roland runs the office, and Ray runs the dairy. And they all fill in for each other in between. Though technically retired, Bill and Cecile are never far away — Cecile still frets, Bill still helps unload trucks, and advice just keeps on coming.

This year, their third season of selling ice cream, they opened for the summer on a dreary, cold April day. Even so, the line curled out to the street and within six hours, 300 gallons had been punched into sugar cones, swirled into shakes, and packed into quarts. “They wait all winter for our ice cream,” says Paul, who makes only a very limited amount of ice cream between October and March. Paul says he is still surprised that the idea of turning their leftovers into ice cream went over so well. “Lewiston’s got a lot of other ice cream places, you know, the usual chain stores. I guess the folks like it that ours is made fresh and made locally.”

In the Cote family there is never a shortage of ice cream, which is fortunate because there are constant occasions such as communions, graduations, birthday parties: ice cream affairs. Once or twice, when it seemed that the immediate family, which had grown to 22, had outgrown the house, they tried renting a hall for family gatherings. But no more. “We like it at home, no matter how crowded.”

Bill and Cecile now spend their winters in Florida, but they are always sure to return the week before Mother’s Day, a celebration with more impact than Thanksgiving in the Cote family. Cecile admits that she has a hard time staying away from the family that long. Her home is still her workshop, the ironing board loaded with curtains to be finished, an exercycle in the living room, and around her overstuffed armchair the projects of all grandmothers: needlepoint and afghans, The view out her picture window is of the dairy. It is a constant source of contentment to have her family all around her. Though she insists that business always comes before family, she adds, “My life is my family. The more the merrier. We have a lot of friends, but they are strangers, you know. They are not family.”

Both Bill and Cecile agree that their three sons are carrying on the business pretty much the way they would. Except, Cecile points out, “They are much more daring. I didn’t want them to open the second ice cream stand. One was enough, I knew it would be so much extra work for them. But, already, they are talking about opening a third stand. I don’t know! They’re going to have to find another family just to make the ice cream!”

This is a Yankee Classic Article from August, 1981.

Updated Friday, October 15th, 2010

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