Bill LaGrange



Working at Moore Bros. Dairy inspired my interest and professional career in the dairy foods industry.  I worked at the dairy the summer after graduation from Ames High School in 1949, and enrolled in September at Iowa State College (ISC) in the dairy industry curriculum.  During the summer of 1950 between my freshman and sophomore years I also worked at Moore’s.


My jobs included helping to make ice cream, sherbet and various frozen novelties, and cleaning up the processing equipment.  The latter involved the ice cream mix pasteurizing vat, ice cream freezer, packaging equipment, and piping used to transfer the mixes to the freezer.  The ice cream and sherbet were packaged in pint, quart, half-gallon, gallon, and ten-gallon containers for use in the ice cream parlor at the front of the building.  We also made "newly weds," a type of ice cream with a baked cake covering, and special orders for different shapes, such as wedding bells, made with cookie cutters.  When placing an order for several dozen bells, a bride might bring in a sample of her dress material so the ice cream could match that color.

We started with vanilla ice cream as it came out of the freezer, the consistency of a Dairy Queen product.  To this we added coloring until a fairly close match was obtained.  Then the wedding bells were cut from a one inch-thick layer and placed on a tray to be frozen at –20º F.  The next day they were packaged individually (touched by human hands) in cellophane sleeves ready for the wedding reception.  While eating an ice cream bell, you could close your eyes and taste vanilla, or keep your eyes open and imagine another flavor.

My daily hours at Moore’s typically ran from 5:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  After working for a couple of hours, and before the ice cream fountain staff arrived, I would frequently go to the parlor and make myself a fudge sundae with cashew nuts.  I was 18 and 19 during those summers and needed the calories to keep me going.  Once the ice cream parlor help arrived, they would make me a chocolate malt around 10:00 or 11:00.  Of course, during ice cream production, one had to taste test the finished product.

During my senior year at ISC, I worked for Mrs. Moore each Saturday morning scrubbing the hall floors in her upstairs apartment trying to remove black scuff marks on the tile or linoleum.  Mr. Moore would go through the plant about 6:00 a.m., without saying a word, on his way out to his angus farm northwest of Ames.  This land is now Moore Park thanks to the generosity of Bertha and Fern and the effort of Attorney Don Smith.

I also worked at O’Neil Dairy making ice cream during the summer between my junior and senior year at ISC, and for nine months after graduation before I went on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.  In spite of all the ice cream I consumed during working hours, I still enjoy the treat, especially sherbet, in the summer.  (Try sherbet in ginger ale or with chocolate sauce poured on top).