Last week, I found two vintage Sealtest Ice Cream items: a scoop/spade and a yellow wooden box.
Have you ever heard of Sealtest? I think it was only in the northeastern part of the United States. My brother-in-law, Doug Hovey, has always talked about the fact that his family used to own Sealtest. Or they had a dairy farm that they sold to Sealtest. Or they liked to eat ice cream. Or something like that.
I have mentioned Doug in the past (he is Erin's husband). You would never know that he is a pharmaceutical scientist. Especially when he comes to our annual St. Patty's Day party dressed like a pimp who just won the Masters.
I decided to email Doug to find out the skinny on his family's connection to Sealtest. Doug's whole family is like one big Forrest Gump. They just show up in weird places with famous people and you don't know how they hell they got there. So I knew that this conversation might take some strange turns.
Here is our actual email exchange:
I was researching the Sealtest ice cream scoop I just bought, and I looked up Sealtest on wiki. Who is Vernon Hovey (mentioned in that link)? Is that your grandfather? I want to get the facts straight before I write about it. And can you give me the family tree of where the vice-president is involved? Did he love ice cream, too?
Vernon is my dad's great uncle, my dad's grandfather's brother, my great grandfather's brother, erin's great grandfather's brother-in-law. He founded the General Ice Cream Corp that became Sealtest. My dad worked for him growing up (dairies were in the family.) Uncle Vernon is where I get my love of ice cream.
So, that is my grandfather's side.... my grandfather married my grandmother (OBVIOUSLY), Henrietta "Hank" Sherman, who was the granddaughter of the Vice-President... so the dairy conglomerate was in bed with the politicians, and that is how ice ceam became so popular. Prior to that, sherbet was America's favorite dessert.
Thanks, Doug. Can you tell me a little about your Grandmom? I'd like to write about her. Do you have any pictures of the White House china? Aren't you related to Pocahontas or some bullshit like that?
Henrietta, or “Hank”, was a vibrant, energetic woman. Her love of life and athletic build made women want to be her and men of all ages want to be with her (more on that later).
Hank was rich. Not rich like the gynecologist who lives next door rich, but more like Kardashian rich. (Just trying to relate to your typical readers, Colleen). Actually, you could say she was the Kim Kardashian of her time. During the depression when other 20 somethings were selling their first borns on the streets, she lived in upstate NY, summered in the Hamptons, excelled at golf, tennis and, most notably, curling. Truth be told, she actually coined the phrase "Winning" back in 1932.
She competed on America's Women's Curling team and traveled extensively. She is a direct descendant of America's favorite Indian, Pocahontas, and the South's greatest nemesis - Tecumseh Sherman. If you watched the Disney version of Pocahontas, my grandmother was the inspiration for the raccoon. Her beloved grandfather, Vice-President James Schoolcraft Sherman, was going to be the next President, following Taft, and he received the most votes posthumously for the presidency of the United States. His early death in 1912 killed the Hoveys' chances of being the next Kennedys. Thanks Jimmy, it should have been me dating Daryl Hannah and crashing my airplane off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Sorry, too soon…. (Quick side note: my dad and JFK Sr. attended the same high school together.)
Back to Hank. Her husband (my poppy) died suddenly at age 48. A few years later, the 52-year-old grieving widow left with 3 kids, seduced and married the 18-year-old boy next door ... enter "Grandpi". That is the grandfather I knew and loved my whole life. They were married for 40 years before her untimely death at 92.
Unfortunately, the white house china has been seeing the inside of my parents' dishwasher for years, so although it is ours for the taking eventually, it should be interesting to see its condition.
I attached a photo of Hank curling and a photo of me, Hank and Grandpi.
How old was your dad when his 52-year-old mom remarried their 18-year-old neighbor?
30 years old.
By the way, I found your grandmom's obituary online (scroll down to Henrietta). According to that, you are also related to Princess Diana?! My next question is obvious: will you be invited to Willie & Kate's wedding? If so, can you bring me home a piece of cake?
I know in my grandmother’s obituary it mentions she is related to Princess Di, but I've got to be honest - I don’t know where that came from. I think Grandpi is confused or is remembering wrong about that one. Hank and Grandpi had a store called “Bit of Britain” for a few years in South Carolina, maybe Princess Di came in one day for a oven mitten shaped as Big Ben or a Margret Thatcher key chain. Really, it was probably the life-size cutout of Princess Di in the window that made him feel like she was really there.
Had I known we were related I would have offered to drive her home that night in Paris. Sorry, too soon again….
That’s a good point about Willie and Kate’s wedding, maybe I should do some digging and get an invite. (although the joke about his mom might get me moved to the B list). Maybe I should call Bravo to film it, or go with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn and tell everyone we’re Uncle Ned’s kids.
All this stuff is interesting about my relatives but tell me when you want some good stories. All this talking about dead celebrities and politics is probably boring to your audience. And enough about your yard sale finds, already. I think they would much rather hear about my life. I can talk about my summers working as a valet, explain the difference between a scientist and "fake" scientist, discuss my struggles living with the gout, or style tips - like how I tuck in my undershirt into my underwear to make me look thinner. Great stuff like that. Let me know when the next blog paper goes out. Thanks.
I think Doug needs to start his own blog paper.