Sharing a bit of my history: The old alma mater and Clown Sundaes

Cute Husband, The Boy, and I checked out of our hotel room early this morning because we had lots of errands to run before heading to Cousin L’s house later this afternoon.

Our first stop was to Men’s Wearhouse to return The Boy’s tuxedo, and then we headed up to UC San Diego to wander my old alma mater.

The Boy refused to nap (despite the 6-1/2 hours of sleep he got last night) on the way up to La Jolla, so he was a bit of a bear and had no interest in getting out of the car to go to the Spaceship Library with me. And that was a shame, too, because it has been renamed the Theodore Geisel library and even has a bronze sculpture of the artist/author sitting with his feet propped up on a desk with The Cat in the Hat, arguably his most famous creation, standing by his shoulder.

The bronze sculpture of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, unveiled in 2004 on what would have been his 100th birthday.

The Boy probably would have liked to have seen that (and I would have loved to have a picture of him with it), but he simply wasn’t interested.

The campus has changed a lot since I graduated many years ago. Buildings have popped up where I remember there was once either an empty field or just a whole lot of space. The eucalyptus groves seemed to have shrunk a bit in size (and I was instantly reminded of my years as an undergrad the moment the scent of eucalyptus filled my nose), but the old familiar artwork was still there. And I was pleasantly surprised that even after 15 years, I could still navigate around the area (though not around campus – it’s changed that much!).

It was so nice to see the Snake Path, one of my favorite art displays when I was an undergrad. I didn't follow the path down the hill, but I imagine the Garden of Eden - with fig trees and all - is still there.

From La Jolla, we went to Mission Viejo for a treat that I had long been awaiting.

We pulled into the parking garage for the Shoppes at Mission Viejo, and I excitedly rushed into the mall. I had no idea where I was going, but I found a mall directory and the three of us headed up to the food court on the second floor.

Cute Husband spotted the red and white striped awning before I did, but as soon as we walked through the door and I saw the hostess wearing the familiar Farrell’s straw hat and red and white armband around her upper arm, I felt my eyes starting to tear.

I had never been so excited to be at a restaurant with my son.

When I was growing up, there was a Farrell’s not far from my house. We went there often to celebrate special events like birthdays and good report cards, and it was always such a treat. This was in the early ’80s, when playing video games meant going to an arcade instead of hanging out on the couch with an XBox controller, before the days of Chuck E. Cheese’s. Farrell’s was just awesome, and both Big Sis E and I celebrated several birthdays there.

But then they all shut down. I remember one evening when Big Sis E and I were in the car with Mom, and she drove to the site only to find it was closed. Another restaurateur came in a year or so later and called it “Barrell’s”, but we never went back.

Farrell’s was gone, and I was so sad.

About a year ago, I saw that there was a Farrell’s open in Santa Clarita, a few miles north of where I grew up. And then I learned they were opening another location in Mission Viejo. So when Cute Husband and I mapped out our trip, I asked if we could please stop at Farrell’s for lunch. After all, Cousin L wasn’t expecting us until the afternoon, anyway.

Coloring the menu while we wait for our food to arrive.

Now, I will be honest: I have very little recollection about Farrell’s food from when I was younger. As an adult, I enjoyed it but honestly found nothing outstanding about it. But what I remembered as a child – and what did not disappoint as an adult – was the ice cream, particularly my favorite Clown Sundae.

The Boy and I each got one (I wasn’t about to share), and Cute Husband was allowed to polish off the rest of The Boy’s sundae after he decided he was too full (they are kind of big for a kid).

"I'd like a Clown Sundae for him," I told the server, "and one for me, too!"

While we were there, I told The Boy about going to parties at Farrell’s when I was a kid, and, as if to punctuate my tales, the servers brought out the big bass drum to announce patrons’ birthdays, just as they did so many years ago. And I shared stories of how much I loved getting Clown Sundaes as a kid.

It was such an amazing treat for me to share a glimpse of my childhood with my own child.

We may not have been at my Farrell’s in the Valley, but it was Farrell’s, and that was more than enough.

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