Chesterton Tribune

Brunks Dairy memorabilia donated to Westchester Township Museum

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Stopping at Brunk's Ice Cream Parlor after school or after a game is a fond memory for many local residents.

Teens stopped there for sodas, green rivers, vanilla cokes, and, of course, ice cream cones made on the premises.

Memories may be sweetly rekindled when visitors to the Westchester Twp. Historical Museum view the latest exhibit that includes a glass milk bottle with Brunk's logo and four slides used in advertising at the local movies.

Research shows Claude Brunk, of South Bend, bought the Chesterton Dairy in 1928 and named it Brunk's Chesterton Dairy. It was located at 539 Broadway, which currently houses Hiscox Maytag Home Appliance Center.

Milk was delivered in glass bottles like the one on display, but it's the ice cream and frozen custard that old-timers affectionately remember.

According to the decedents of Everett Witte, the favorite ice cream flavor was Penn-Dutch Vanilla. It is they who donated the slides to the museum.

Everett Witte worked for Brunk in the 1930's, bought the business in May 1957, and closed the parlor and ice cream business during the 1960's.

It was in May 1939 that Brunk installed the latest type freezer for making frozen custards, malted milk and ice cream.

Brunk discontinued processing milk in the 1940's, switching to producing ice cream from base mix purchased from the Swift Company of Chicago. The switch may have been due to sugar rationing in 1942.

The ice cream parlor stayed open throughout the changes, said Lisa Witte who found the slides now on display. However, Witte developed a sales route business for their ice cream through home delivery trucks and ice cream mix delivery business throughout Northwest Indiana, she added.

While Brunk was a college graduate, Witte started out as an employee and worked his way to the top by purchasing the business.

Both men were civic minded. Brunk served as choir director of the United Methodist Church, was a charter member and a president of the Chesterton Lions Club and served on the Porter Memorial Hospital Board. Witte served on the Chesterton Town Board for twelve years.

Witte and his wife Beatrice lived in Chesterton at 158 Chesterton Blvd., where his grandson now resides. Four generations of Wittes have lived there. While cleaning out Everett's old desk, his grandson Bill, and his wife Lisa found some old slides that were used in the Aron Theater, currently occupied by the Ben Franklin store. The slides were shown as advertisements on the movie screen at the beginning of each feature movie. The stills depict the Chesterton Dairy as it looked in the 1950's. Bill and Lisa donated the slides to the local museum.

Witte died in 1984. According to his family, the man who spent more than a decade in local town government would have been pleased with the Town's growth and vision.

The milk bottle was donated by Millie Dille, a local resident who well remembers the local dairy.

Westchester Twp. Historical Museum hours are from noon-4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and from 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The museum is located at the corner of Calumet and Indiana Ave., one block south of the Chesterton Bandstand.