Meet Me at DQ

By Gus Bode

Summertime calls for a trip to the Dairy Queen, which has spent 50 years at its Carbondale location

There is a place in Carbondale where students and community members can buy fun for $2.78, tax included.

This package comes with hot, humid weather, the downtown Strip and a medium-sized Blizzard. The place is Dairy Queen, located at 508 S. Illinois Ave., and during the summer, it is the place people flock when they want to cool off and relax.


Tori Smith, a 4-year-old from De Soto, was sitting on the steps in front of Dairy Queen enjoying an orange Star Kist. The heat was melting the star shape quickly, causing orange to run over her hands and down her forearms, eventually dripping onto her Winnie-the-Pooh shirt.

Katie, Tori’s 8-year-old sister, was eating a cookie dough blizzard the same item her dad always gets.

If they make a mess, they don’t make it in my car, said the girls’ dad, Adam Smith.

The Smiths had just returned from Katie’s baseball game. Katie was wearing her uniform, a red and white number, with the team name on front:the De Soto Babydolls.

Smith said they make a stop at the Carbondale Dairy Queen once every couple of weeks.

It’s something I did as a kid, Smith said. I thought it was fun. It’s sort of a tradition.

The tradition is different on some ends. Instead of children, Rachel Molloy and Chris Long take their pets. Darlin is a miniature Beagle, Duke is a brown Chow, and Bougs is a mixed breed.


They all like vanilla, so that’s what they get, Molloy said.

Rachel and Chris stopped by Dairy Queen for an icy treat, and their dogs refused to be left out.

We were just going to get ourselves ice cream, and they were looking at us like, You’re kidding! so we had to get them ice cream too, Molloy said.

Brooke Patton and Taylor Rochman, two friends from Carbondale, sat with Taylor’s dad, Kenny. Going to Dairy Queen is just something fun to do in the summer time, Kenny said.

Rochman was busily trying to finish his Dilly Bar before the summer heat got the best of it. Brooke was nursing a red Star Kist, and Taylor was racing against the temperature with her Dilly Bar as well.

I look like a little kid as messy as I’m being, said Taylor’s dad as the two girls giggled.

The Carbondale Dairy Queen is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The blinking neon sign was first sparked to a flickering yellow and white glow in 1952.

Sometimes it’s hot, said Travis Darst, who works inside the tiny Dairy Queen. Actually, it’s hot for the most part.

Darst has been working at the Carbondale Dairy Queen for almost two months.

It’s interesting to see some of the weird things people ask for, Darst said. One woman always gets a small, mint blizzard with almonds, Oreos and chocolate topping.

Darst remembers the glory days before he worked behind the counter.

As a kid I would come to Dairy Queen, Darst said. When we drove by, my father would always ask, Can you smell the Dilly Bars?

Darst said a problem stems from the fact that the Carbondale Dairy Queen has chocolate ice cream only on Thursdays.

Some people get mad when they can’t have chocolate, Darst said. But that’s the way it’s always been.

People usually congregate on the steps in front of the DQ under the blinking neon sign. They sit and eat their ice cream as the summer slowly melts it away, just like it did 50 summers before.

It’s a good time to sit outside, Smith said. You see a lot of interesting things out here.