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 its
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.
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.
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 the hump.
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
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.
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
G. B. Brynston was like that.
Cherry's Galveston Memories
September 6, 2009 column
William S. Cherry. All rights reserved