Ice cream for Iowans

Spirit Lake couple travels 1,400 miles to serve up free frozen treats

-Submitted photo Bob Shaw, left, and Kate Shaw, of Spirit Lake, stand near a Good Humor ice cream truck after returning home from delivering free ice cream around the state of Iowa recently. The two have been married 50 years. The trip lasted 15 days and spanned 1,400 miles.

SPIRIT LAKE — A Spirit Lake couple recently drove around the state of Iowa giving away free frozen treats to thousands of people.

Bob Shaw and Kate Shaw spent 15 days on the road serving star bars, fudge pops, and bomb pops out of a 50-year-old Good Humor truck. Their trip spanned 1,400 miles.

At each stop they left the truck unlocked and the keys in the ignition.

“I am originally from Pennsylvania,” Bob Shaw said. “I am a transplant. I came out here in 1953. And I have always said native-born Iowans have no clue how nice they are and this entire trip just re-emphasized that.”

“We never locked the truck up once and we left the key in the whole time,” he added. “Native-born Iowans and Iowans are just good quality people and this just reinforced that.”

Bob Shaw and Kate Shaw have been married 50 years.

As a way to celebrate, Kate Shaw wanted to give away free ice cream.

“She said ‘something I always wanted to do was give away free ice cream,'” Bob Shaw said. “Since this was our 50th anniversary year, we could drive across the state of Iowa giving away free ice cream.”

“I said no, and no got me into it,” he said.

The couple has served Blue Bunny ice cream for 32 years out of their truck during summers in Spirit Lake.

But they had never set out on a trip across Iowa.

They picked up their supplies from Fareway Grocery stores. The ice cream was provided by Wells Enterprises, Inc., the maker of Blue Bunny ice cream.

On their journey, they visited places such as hospitals, schools, and retirement homes.

“We figured we would go about 100 miles a day,” Bob Shaw said.

Orange City, Le Mars, Cherokee, Storm Lake, Boone, Waukee, Ames, Iowa City, Le Claire, Dubuque, Kalona, Oskaloosa, and Dyersville, are among the cities they visited.

They also made a stop in Fort Dodge.

“We were at the Head Start program in Fort Dodge,” Bob Shaw said.

The couple stayed with John Sitzman and Deb Sitzman in Coalville.

“We had a list of friends and family we arranged to stay the night with,” Bob Shaw said.

But in some towns they planned to stay at motels.

In one particular town, they ended up staying somewhere unexpected.

“We ran into this person we didn’t know at all at Red Rock Lake,” Bob Shaw said. “We gave him some ice cream and I asked him if there was a motel there and he said you’re staying with us tonight and you might as well have supper with us too.”

Bob Shaw and Kate Shaw followed the man in their truck.

“I’m thinking who is this guy,” Bob Shaw said. “He didn’t tell us what he did.”

Later, it was revealed the man was a surgeon at a local hospital.

“There’s this gorgeous house sitting with the lights around it, overlooking the hospital,” Bob Shaw said. “He was a local surgeon. It was just unbelievable. They gave us their master bedroom for the night. It was a beautiful home, a fabulous place.

“They had five children,” he added. “The daughter said to the mother ‘who are these people’ and the mother said ‘I don’t know,'”

Kate Shaw said that was just one example of the hospitality the couple received.

“Our every need was more than met,” she said.

The couple ended up passing out at least 6,000 treats, according to Bob Shaw.

Earlier in the week, the couple visited towns such as Corwith and Algona.

They returned home Wednesday, but they are not quite finished with ice cream.

Today they plan to serve the entire Spirit Lake School District, which is about 1,400 students, Bob Shaw said.

“We’re not young pups, but we are having a ball,” he said.