They all screamed for ice cream

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Students were treated to a special history lesson they all enjoyed on Friday afternoon. Yarnell's Ice Cream was served to students, teachers and staff at Manila High School.

History teacher Leann Helms, assisted by Donna Walls, served ice cream to the student body and teachers along with a history lesson on the only ice cream company in the state of Arkansas, Yarnell. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

History teacher Leann Helms wrote a grant through the Arkansas Economics Grant Foundation on entrepreneurs of Arkansas.

She was awarded the grant and she will use the funding to teacher her students about different business and companies in Arkansas. The ice cream day was the first of several events planned.

Students learned the history of Yarnall's, the last remaining ice cream company in Arkansas.

Helms informed the students there were several ice cream companies in Arkansas in the 1920's. Local ice cream producers were necessary because of the lack of refrigeration. Ice and salt were the method of freezing and keeping frozen ice cream.

One of those companies was Grisham's Ice Cream, headquartered in Searcy. In 1927 the company merged with the Terry Dairy Co. of Newport. The general manager was Ben Grisham and William Terry was president.

Their salesman and assistant manager was Ray Yarnell. In 1929 Grisham was bought by Southwest Dairy Products. In the early 1930's Southwest Dairy products filed for bankruptcy. Ray Yarnell pulled all of the cash he could, borrowed on his insurance policy, and purchased the defunct company. In March of 1933 the "Bank holiday," declared by the federal government, caused all of Yarnell's funds to be frozen. The early years were hard because of the Depression.

Helms went on to tell the students of how the family has worked together through four generations and grown to where it is today with sales in six states.

"It is the only Ice Cream Company in the State of Arkansas," Helms said.

Helms and assistant Donna Walls dressed in their ice cream parlor costumes and served he ice cream.

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