Like Blue Bell
ice cream, until it closed, Purity was so popular in Galveston County
that few drugstore soda fountains or neighborhood grocery stores
carried any other brand. In fact, all of the public school cafeterias
had it in individual cup servings with little wooden spoons.
The ice cream was high in butter fat and was, in the main, flavored
with natural ingredients like real strawberries, and it was always
fresh, so you can imagine it started the taste race far ahead of
At special times of the year like Christmas and New Year’s, seasonal
flavors arrived like peppermint and eggnog. In addition to the normal
favorites – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry – butter pecan was
the most popular. The King family won’t have any trouble Whatsoever
in getting testimony from oldtime locals that not even Blue Bell
has approached the goodness of Brynston’s Purity.
In addition to his famous ice cream, Brynston, although a quiet
behind-the-scenes kind of businessman, was an astute marketer. Drugstore
soda fountains were major sources of ice cream sales in those days,
and there were an enormous number of family-owned neighborhood throughout
the county. In fact in Galveston of the forty drugstores, only Walgreen’s
at 22nd and Postoffice was owned by a national firm.
To not only
get the account but assure allegiance, Brynston would supply at
Purity’s cost the soda fountain ice cream freezers and would provide
the store’s fancy outside neon sign with the name of the store on
top and Purity’s name below. And when the cash flow was short for
the drugstore owner, he could depend on quietly making a very low
interest rate, unsecured loan with Brynston to get the store over
years Brynston resisted installing an automatic valve on a certain
piece of equipment at the factory, and no matter what, according
to Brynston, that valve had to be manually turned off at exactly
ten o’clock each evening. He claimed it was not only impossible
but silly to expect to find a regular employee who would sit in
the plant from five o’clock in the afternoon until 10 o’clock that
evening with the sole duty of turning off that valve.
So Brynston set up a couple of top loaded freezers in the plant’s
front office and a counter where people in their neighborhood could
come in and buy a pint, quart or half-gallon of freshly made ice
cream. To handle the sales and the turning off of that important
valve at exactly ten o’clock, he hired school teachers, a different
one to work each night.
His pitch to the teachers was that they could grade papers and make
money at the same time. But more importantly, in those days if school
employees contributed to Social Security as well as the mandatory
Teacher’s Retirement, they were able to draw both when they retired.
Brynston’s plan gave those teachers like Riley H. Lefevers, George
W. Bertschler, William O. Barlow and Arthur L. Graham, who moonlighted
with Purity, that extra advantage.
I concluded long ago that Brynston purposely chose not to automate
that valve, and the decision had nothing whatsoever to do with the
ice cream manufacturing business. And further, maybe it didn’t even
need to be turned off at exactly ten o’clock each night. It seems
much more likely to me that the whole thing was a dignified scheme
to help teachers.
G. B. Brynston was like that.
Cherry's Galveston Memories
September 6, 2009 column
Copyright William S. Cherry. All rights reserved