Stories from a time not that long ago of young people driving around Maine Street in downtown Fallon always seem to include stops at the Dairy Queen. So many fond memories have been shared of being cool, hanging out, the cars, and the Dairy Queen treats. Was that you?
Diana Ford has many of those memories too, only from the other side of the Dairy Queen walk-up window. She and her husband Bill owned the shop for eight years back in the 1980s and experienced some of those vibes first-hand. She worked full time, “because you had to be there to be good.” She and Bill both had to attend specialized training to own a DQ. “We called it DQU and it was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Of course, we had to learn how to make the curl on the top of the cone, but so much more in that two-week course. My brain was crammed, and I wore out the batteries on my adding machine.”
Ford has mostly good memories of her DQ time, of having wonderful customers, and a great staff. She laughs when telling the story of when Bill had to crawl in through a window because he had forgotten his keys. “The police were called, and Bill had some explaining to do when they arrived.” She said they did have their share of some rascals creating messes in the parking lot and restrooms, but that was about the worst of it. They also sponsored a DQ softball team that went on to win a state title. Her daughter, Sherry called her after the game to say they had won, and Diana said “I cried like a baby, I was so happy for them. The senior Mayor Ken Tedford was our coach back then. The team played for a few years, and they were just great. Some of the team kids even worked at DQ for me.”
When the Fords decided to sell the business, the family of one of their young workers bought it. “But they weren't able to keep it going. That was when my manager, Ginger Humphrey, and her husband Mark bought it and they eventually moved the business to 1101 South Taylor Street. Their kids worked there, she's a grandma now, and they still own it.”
Ford, whose maiden was Roberts, was born in San Mateo, California. Her family moved around when she was young, finally landing in Stockton when she was ten years old. She met Bill walking home from the local drive-up sipping on a cherry coke. “He stopped and wanted to pick me up. I was in high school, and he was in junior college then and was also more interested in my girlfriend than in me. But I took care of that. We used to double-date, and I just wrangled my way in. He was so cute and was my spark.”
Bill Ford was a produce clerk at Safeway in Stockton when they married in 1957. He was promoted to store manager and began managing two stores there. Safeway moved the family to a few locations before moving them to Fallon around 1964. At that time, Safeway was on the corner of Taylor Street and Williams Avenue where CVS is now. The Fords bought property on Alcorn Road, when it was just a gravel road, and built their home there. The town offered so many things for their two children, Sherry and Bobby, ages ten and seven, to be involved in. “Fallon was the best thing that could have happened for my kids."
Diana was passionate about roses too and dug in after selling the DQ. She planted one rose bush and then she got a J&P catalog. Soon she had cultivated 150 roses on her property, then began showing her roses and winning. She and Bill would travel on Sundays for shows in California, and she soon realized that she had an eye to spot the queen hybrid tea rose of the show. “I would look across the show floor, at the sea of roses - it was just incredibly beautiful. But I could find the one queen, and that's the only time a queen is higher than a king.” She went to school to become an accredited judge and then started judging instead of competing.
Bill spent 30 years with Safeway before retiring in 1992. The couple started traveling so much after that they wore out two campers. Diana has scrapbooks of photos from their travels together, storing so many precious memories. Sadly in 2018, Bill passed away. But her children and grandchildren are local and keeping her busy. She also has a wide circle of friends here to enjoy time with. “My children were really young when we moved here, so they have something here that I do not have – lifelong friends. But I do have great friends here, a wonderful family, and so many memories. I am blessed for it all.”