Beth and Linda Bivens wait for their ice cream at Dairy Queen March 11, 2021, in Carbondale, Ill. The two said their favorite memory from coming to Dairy Queen as a kid was sitting on the curb and eating ice cream as a family and watching parades as they went by. (Sophie Whitten | @swhittenphotography)
Beth and Linda Bivens wait for their ice cream at Dairy Queen March 11, 2021, in Carbondale, Ill. The two said their favorite memory from coming to Dairy Queen as a kid was sitting on the curb and eating ice cream as a family and watching parades as they went by.

Sophie Whitten | @swhittenphotography

Locals reflect on 70 years of Carbondale’s 1950s-style Dairy Queen

March 17, 2021

For the past seventy years, the Carbondale Dairy Queen has been a place for anyone to enjoy ice cream and spend the afternoon with friends and family. 

Joe Waicukauski gained ownership of the Carbondale Dairy Queen in 1966, just over a decade after it was built and his son, Mark Waicukauski, who currently owns the building, grew up in and around the business. Joe Waicukauski passed away in 2016, but Mark continued to carry on his and his business’ legacy. 

Chris Bishop

The Dairy Queen creates a sense of nostalgia for many members of the Carbondale community. Many people remembered eating ice cream on the sidewalk with their friends and family when they were kids and watching the cars and floats during the Halloween parades pass by.

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“Everything has changed so much downtown so when alumni come back to town, everything is so much different for them. But when they come see the Dairy Queen, everybody’s got memories of coming to the Dairy Queen, sitting on the wall and talking, and it just brings back good memories of everything,” Mark Waicukauski said.

Because of COVID-19, the business had to close until they decided to reopen again this spring, taking precautionary measures. Waicukauski said that with the only available seating being outside, it felt safe for both the employees and their customers to reopen. 

“They can come up here and be normal like they used to. I mean, so it was good for people to have some normalcy in their lives,” Waicukauski said. 

Waicukauski said the Dairy Queen corporation asked them multiple times about updating and renovating their facility, but he  always declined, saying there are too many memories people have of the current building to replace it with a newer one. 

“We get ten people a week stopping and taking pictures of this place and we want to keep the nostalgia of this as long as possible,” Waicukauski said. 

Staff Photographer Sophie Whitten can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram @swittenphotography.

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  • L

    Laura CritesApr 18, 2021 at 10:53 am

    My first job in HS turned into a kind of family legacy when Mark hired my daughter as she went to SIU to get her MA. I still can’t believe the new employees get to use a cash register! “In my day,” we had to memorize all the prices & add them together in our heads (uphill, both ways!) – using the sales tax cheat sheet if we really had to. So glad this sweet C’dale legacy lives on.

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  • D

    Deborah (benz) DesiletsApr 17, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    The Waicukauskis were close family friends when i was growing up. I remember the grownups playing pinochle while the kids played/hung out. In fact watched the Beatles first intro on Ed Sullivan show at their house. Joe was a great Cardinals fan, always had the games on the radio at the DQ. He was my softball coach fo a couple of years. I worked at DQ in summer of 1971 with Marks sister Carol. Great friends a great Cdale institution

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  • M

    Martha BoorMar 19, 2021 at 8:59 am

    So many wonderful memories of Carbondale DQ! It was my dad’s favorite. I love coming back to town and bringing my kids, and now my grandson, to get a cone or sundae. It’s family tradition.

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  • G

    Gloria PerrottMar 18, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I started working at the DQ my sophomore year of high school, Jack Klover was the owner at the time. I worked there off and on for 7-8 years. I actually helped train Mr. Waicauski (Joe) when he begin with DQ. I will always cherish memories of those days. To this day I can still tell you the orders of some of our regular customers, who got the same thing every time. Those were the good ol’ days. Thanks Mark for keeping our memories alive, so we can share them and also, make new ones.
    DQ has a special place in my heart.❤

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