Positive Connections: Cimarron soda fountain outlasts taste of time

Positive Connections

CIMARRON, Kan. (KSNW) – A long-time favorite is serving up more than sweet treats in the small town of Cimarron.

The scrumptious smells tickle your nose as you enter Remember When Antiques and Ice Cream at the corner of Main Street and Highway 400. Your eyes go directly to the soda fountain counter placed perfectly in the center of the room.

“We have got lots of different things they can make with ice cream. We have got old-fashioned soda. We even found out how to make an old-fashioned phosphate,” said Remember When Antiques and Ice Cream Owner Kay VanderGiesen. “A sundae or ice cream cones. A lot of times, we have people who like to do a milkshake that has different kinds of flavorings in it too.”

VanderGiesen and her husband took over the soda fountain in December of 2019.

“We had another place, and this space became available, and we were offered it as long as we would keep the fountain, and I said, ‘well, I can’t think of anything that would go better with antiques than an old-fashioned soda fountain, so that’s what we decided to do,” VanderGiesen explained.

The fountain’s history runs deep. It sits inside a building dating back to 1910. It was originally a hardware store and opera house.

“In the 1930s, a man decided to open a pharmacy. He wanted a fountain as well. So the town had a big celebration when he opened up,” said Beverly Benton, the building owner that houses the soda fountain and antique store. “It has always had people, businesses in it, and it’s always been kind of a cornerstone of the community.”

Benton, like many other townspeople, once worked behind the counter.

“I look at the building and forget I own it because it’s like, oh my goodness, but it means a lot to me,” Benton said.

The building’s rich history is one of the reasons why VanderGiesen decided to move her antique shop into the fountain building.

“Before Kay moved in, people were upset there wasn’t going to be a soda fountain,” Benton said.

“We just have a heart for the people of the community. We wanted to be able to keep the community involved and to keep the townspeople here instead of going who knows where,” said VanderGiesen.

VanderGiesen has kept the original soda fountain counter intact; however, she and her husband have added their own flair to the store.

“We decided to put up a prayer board, so we list people that have illnesses or something, and then we have a veterans wall at the back. We have been trying to collect more and more of our local veterans to put up there,” she explained.

VanderGiesen said the ultimate goal is to highlight Cimarron’s rich history while providing a safe space for generations to come.

“We wanted the kids to come back and remember when they were kids and came here all the time, and we wanted the kids who go to school here to make those memories too,” she said.

The fountain and antique store are located at 104 S Main St, Cimarron.

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