Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Ice Cream Headache (page 1 of 5)

Leonard’s Bicycle Shop

c9-56  d22 Img25 Leonard's Mower & Bicycle Shop

 

 

Although I don’t directly mention Leonard’s Bicycle Shop directly in Ice Cream Headache, the bicycle shop plays an important role in the novella. Looking at this photo, it was probably taken right around the time that the story takes place.

Set in a small, industrial town in Illinois in 1968, the lives of five people intertwine on one fateful spring day. Under the low-lying dark cloud of the Vietnam war, these five people act out their personal dramas within a milieu of sadness, regret, guilt, envy, cowardice and bitterness: Ray Jackson, isolated and strong in the face of losing his business and wife; Johnny Fitzpatrick, who has decided to run off to Canada to avoid the draft; Jimmy Smith, who overcomes physical and mental limitations and willing to believe the best about people; Nancy Smith, who has devoted her entire life to raising her only child in the face of great odds; and Earl Jansen who carries the guilt of an accidental shooting two years earlier that forced him off the police force. However there is also in equal measure all-consuming love, courage, loyalty, kindness, mercy, gentleness and the enduring strength of the human spirit. Linked together in conflict, articulate friendship and understanding, their plight as human beings is one we all share.

Don’t be Blinded by Science

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You don’t have to go to great lengths to understand the science behind an ice cream headache.

Really.

It’s all poetry in motion.

Ice Cream Headache.

 

1968: A Year to Remember

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It was no mistake when I started writing my novella Ice Cream Headache what year the story would be set. I have always been fascinated with the year 1968 because it was the year that I really became aware of the world around me. More importantly, the events which took place during this year would shape a generation. Indeed, if one looks at Ice Cream Headache from this perspective, one could argue that the story of these five individuals whose lives intertwine on this fateful day in late spring is in some regards, a microcosm of the year.

I believe that’s one of the reasons why this novella works; the year this story takes place is essential to the story. For one of the characters, Johnny Fitzpatrick, the year is important in regard to the Vietnam War. After the Tet Offensive earlier in the year, America’s involvement in the conflict would drastically change. For the first time since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, there would be an increasing number of Americans who felt that we should get out the the quagmire the war had become.

Goodbye Ice Cream Headache

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Well, not exactly good-bye, but now it’s time to get ready for another journey back to the 1960s and 1970s with When A Hard Rain Falls.

I feel a little sad to be moving onto the next book after having spent nearly two years writing it and promoting it. You put so much into it and bare your soul with every word that you write.

Although I wrote When A Hard Rain Falls before I wrote Ice Cream Headache, it was one of those stories that needed a little time to ferment before it was ready to see the light of day. And for the next year, I devoted all my time to Ice Cream Headache.

It’s hard to move on to a new book when you spent so much time devoted to it.  I love Ice Cream Headache. I am glad that I wrote this story. Writing it was a chance for me to go back home; back to 1968 when I was a ten-year-old living in Oglesby. We all need to go back home at one time or another.

If you haven’t journeyed back in time with Ice Cream Headache, you really should.

Ice Cream Headache now on sale at Torri’s Ice Cream Parlor

ICH at Torri's

It’s not the Supreme Dairy Bar, but it’s close.

Now folks in the Illinois Valley and North-Central Illinois can find copies of Ice Cream Headache at Torri’s Ice Cream Parlor in Ladd, Illinois.

Although having an ice cream headache at an ice cream parlor is probably not a good thing for business, having my book on sale at one of the the oldest ice cream parlors (my grandparents used to take me to Torri’s when I was living in nearby Cherry) is quite an honor not to mention pretty cool.

You’ll love this story

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Why Ice Cream Headache?

Why not.

This story works on many different levels, but what I wanted to show with this novella was a microcosm of America in 1968 that had already been turned upside down by the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King. And there would be so much more before Apollo 8 circled the moon on Christmas Eve.

There is a lot of history in this novella, but it is not a historical novel per se. It is a drama of sorts keeping in the tradition of Peyton Place. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on behind the scenes; behind closed drapes.

Soda Fountain Drinks

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In Ice Cream Headache, Billy stops in at the Supreme Dairy Bar for a milkshake. While the owner of the dairy bar, Ray, is making the milkshake, Ray thinks back to when he was a child and went to the soda fountain at Adkins’ Drug Store with his father and sister for malts and ice cream sodas.

How many of these fountain drinks have you tried? Are there any I might have left off?

 REPORT
10 items   2 followers   1 votes   196 views

Soda Fountain Favorites

What are your "ice cream headache" favorites?

1

Cherry Coke

May 16, 2013
Cherry Coke
2

Vanilla Malt

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Vanilla Malt
3

Green River

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Green River
4

Black Cow

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Black Cow
5

Root Beer Float

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Root Beer Float
6

New York Egg Cream

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New York Egg Cream
7

Ice Cream Soda

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Ice Cream Soda
8

Chocolate Milkshake

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Chocolate Milkshake
9

Strawberry Milkshake

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Strawberry Milkshake
10

Vanilla Milkshake

May 16, 2013
Vanilla Milkshake

Ice Cream Headache and Oglesby, Illinois

Downtown Oglesby 2

Although there might be some truth to the claim that you can’t go home again, I most certainly did when I wrote Ice Cream Headache. And it’s only fitting, given the number of years that I have lived overseas, that I “return” home  a lot in my stories, especially when I am waxing nostalgic about “back home.”

This photo alone, brings back many memories for me: walking home from Washington Grade School, stopping in at the Supreme Dairy Bar for a milkshake or a Green River, buying candy and comic books at Balconie’s, and going to the library. This was the center of my universe from 1966-1976.

What I tried to do most with Ice Cream Headache was to capture some of the small town flavor that is rapidly disappearing across the United States.

This Book Review Rocks!

icecreamCover2There are book reviews and then there are book reviews!

This latest one left at Amazon for Ice Cream Headache, definitely rocks!

Jeffrey Miller is an instinctive navigator of the human heart. His ability to draw universal thoughts and emotions from commonplace characters in simple settings is reminiscent of Stephen King in Hearts in Atlantis.

In the novella, The Ice Cream Headache, the locale is a small town in rural America and the time is 1968. And while it is true that the troubling Vietnam War, combined with widespread civil dissent, enshrouds the drama which Mr. Miller slowly unfolds, the time and place could just have easily been a gloomy castle in medieval Denmark or a 19th Century whaling ship off the coast of New England. The Vietnam War as viewed from the homefront is, nevertheless, the flashpoint for the story and lends to it a certain texture, poignancy and intensity it might otherwise not have had. Under the low-lying dark cloud of war, the finely-crafted characters act out their personal dramas within a milieu of sadness, regret, guilt, envy, greed, cowardice, bitterness, prejudice, lust and small-minded cruelty. But there is also in equal measure all-consuming love, courage, loyalty, kindness, mercy, gentleness and the enduring strength of the human spirit. The well-developed characters, in Mr. Miller’s skillful hands, never trip over the central story drawn in lines which intersect at various points, many of which are only suggested and, therefore, sustain a tale suffused with psychological suspense until the end.

This is a book which is highly readable any time and anywhere, just as its events—both chronological and psychological—could have happened anytime and anywhere. The book’s powerful emotional content makes it one which can just as easily be read at one sitting or savored over time. Either way it is highly enjoyable.

Wow.

Upcoming Book Events: 10 Magazine Book Club

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On Sunday, April 28th, I will be the special guest author at 10 Magazine’s monthly book club meeting. I’ve been looking forward to this event for some time and the chance to talk about my books, especially War Remains and Ice Cream Headache. Kudos to Barry Welsh, the organizer of this event, who personally invited me to participate in this event.

I am following in the steps of greatness, a who’s who of Korean Arts, History, and Literature including, Michael Breen, Daniel Tudor, Charles Montgomery, Andrew Salmon, and Robert Neff. I invite you to check out what they have written and done.

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