20 TOWNS: Not much as changed in Storrs since the 90s, according to former UConn students

People don’t need a time machine in Storrs. The ice cream at UConn Dairy Bar is frozen nostalgia.
Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT
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STORRS, CT (WFSB) - People don’t need a time machine in Storrs. The ice cream at UConn Dairy Bar is frozen nostalgia.

Channel 3′s Twenty Towns in 20 Days continued on Friday in Storrs.

“We get a lot of ‘I went there back then, this is my favorite flavor,’” said Ethan Haggerty, UConn Dairy Bar. “It’s amazing.”

Full time employees Haggerty and Sarah Brady are supervisors, but UConn students make the magic.

“They help raise the cows, milk the cows, make the ice cream, serve the ice cream so they’re involved in every step of the process,” Brady explained.

The teens who came to Storrs for high school and college in the 90s said their memories working at the dairy bar were all sweet, not that it was an easy job.

“My first day, my god mother and my mom were like ‘how much ice cream did you eat?’” said Karen Thompson, former Storrs resident. “I was like ‘there was no time to eat ice cream.’”

Eventually, Thompson said she excelled at the dairy bar and even worked her way up to manager. Rebecca Rose also picked up shifts there, even if her favorite memories came as a customer.

“If I had an 11:00 exam in animal science, my friends and I would come here stress eat our ice cream, do our last-minute studying and then feel like we were all set for that 11:00 exam,” Rose said.

Both UConn animal science grads ordered their favorite frozen treats when Channel 3 caught up with them.

Rose and Thompson said they loved their time there. They both admired people on campus. Rose’s mentor was Prof. Steve Zinn, who Channel 3 met during a Something’s Cooking segment. Thompson said her hero was 90s UConn basketball star Meg Pattyson.

“So, when she came into the dairy bar I said, ‘Oh my God,’ so I said, ‘ok play it cool, play it cool’ and I was like ‘Hey Meg,’” Thompson recalled.

Thompson also played it cool with her fashion, which she described as “plain Jane. Rose said she rocked a more preppy style. One thing they shared though was a slightly less than glamorous ride: A Chevy cavalier and an ‘86 Buick Sky Hook.

Or as they called it, a “crap-alier.”

“It died right in the middle of the intersection one day, and so that was like I had to call my dad and like figure it out,” Thompson said.

“My dad bartered some wood so I could get the car,” Rose said. “Like $500 to $1,000 worth of wood that I helped cut and split.”

Thompson and Rose may have nicer cars these days, but the ladies wouldn’t trade their time in Storrs for anything, even though both think the campus and town itself only got better with age.

“It’s really blossomed and I think that helps a lot with recruitment, and really the national draw that the university has now,” they said.

Storrs has deep farming roots

Storrs always has been a big farm town.

For high school students, a number of them really were raised in a barn.

Thompson said barns like at Mountain Dairy were a type of classroom and the cows were the professors.

“Once a farm girl always a farm girl I guess,” she said.

Thompson was a proud 4H kid and dairy cows were her animals.

“They’re cute they have personality,” she said.

Carolyn Stearns’ family owned the land the dairy upon which the dairy sits for 250 years. Over that time, the land helped teach scores of students.

“They are great kids and they just need to see the possibilities,” Thompson said.

Thompson said she gained the skills to become a professional farmer.

Then there’s the Thompson Store, which has been in her family since the 1800s.

“It’s family run for generations,” she said. “I spent a good amount of my childhood here on Saturdays.”

She said she visits her cousins, who are the owners. George Thompson said animal feed is the store’s top seller.

“Dog, cat, goats, sheep, llamas, horses, pigs, about anything you want,” George Thompson said.

However, the store said Thompson-made grinders are the best kept secret in the state.