Do You Remember? Dipper Dan

Among a group of children at the Dipper Dan Ice Cream Shop in Cullman for a birthday party were Tim Ford (standing left), Jan Tucker Harbison (standing second from left) and Cindy Ford Penn (seated in the Dipper Dan throne). (Courtesy of Tim Ford)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Many remember the white chairs with the red heart backs and red seats when reminiscing about visiting the Dipper Dan Ice Cream Shop. It was also the place that hosted the greatest of birthday parties with the birthday boy or girl getting to sit in the Dipper Dan throne. The local favorite was in the Cullman Shopping Center, where PetSmart is today, from the late 60s until the fall of 1972.

Dipper Dan was opened by Henry and Imogene Daniels, whom, former manager Shirley (Johns) Byrd Beshears remembers as “the sweetest couple and employers ever.” Beshears, who was a majorette in the West Point High School band, worked at Dipper Dan during her junior and senior years, mostly on the weekends.

“The Daniels(es) owned it when I first started and they were beautiful people,” she said. “We had a room in the back. That was the party room, and you had your birthday parties back there and Amway had their meetings back there.” 

Beshears described Dipper Dan as having a wonderful, sweet smell.

“I was one of the few people who worked there,” she said. “When I began managing, I remember, it was football season of my senior year. I graduated in 1972. I wanted to go to our football homecoming and my best friend worked for me. I needed her to work, but she wouldn’t work so I missed homecoming.”

Tim Ford recalled visiting Dipper Dan many times with his family.

“It had a lot of flavors and you could have birthday parties. Our favorite seemed to be black cherry, and I’d get licorice whenever they had it,” he laughed. “It would make your tongue black!”

Ford’s sister, Cindy Ford Penn, and her good friend Jan Tucker Harbison shared a birthday party at Dipper Dan.

Remembered Ford, “They would swap and take turns sitting in the birthday chair.”

The Danielses usually took care of the birthday parties, leaving Beshears to take care of the parlor’s customers out front. Oftentimes, she said, she would be very busy with the employees from other stores in the shopping center stopping by for lunch.

She smiled, “It was a lot of fun and I ended up meeting a lot of boys there.” Beshears actually met her first husband while manning the ice cream counter.

Dipper Dan offered approximately 40 flavors of hand dipped ice cream as well as other food items including chicken salad and “Weenie Burgers.”

“You take the weenie and you cut it in half and then you slice those longways and put it on a bun,” said Beshears. “We got our barbecue sauce from Johnny’s (Bar-B-Q) and we had chicken salad. I made the chicken salad, and we had all kinds of sandwiches. We had 38-40 flavors of ice cream, so it was like a Baskin Robbins.”

She remembers pistachio almond being her favorite flavor.

Ownership of Dipper Dan changed hands a couple of times before the shop closed its doors after the summer of 1972.

Beshears and Ford both said they have wonderful memories of the Dipper Dan Ice Cream Shop.

Said Ford, “Cullman really needs something like that because almost everyone loves ice cream and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.”

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