Four Seas Ice Cream and Undertow

20331610_640It’s no secret that much of what is in UNDERTOW is “doable” in real life on Cape Cod. It’s like a teen’s guide on what to do on the Cape.

Jump from the Town Neck bridge? Yup.

Bonfire on Sandy Neck? Check!

Drive out on the sand with a vehicle? Damn straight!

Nosh on decadent ice cream at the Milk Way? Always!

Of course, some things got renamed . . . like MJ William’s “Milk Way” shop, which was based on Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville. The fabulous shop is still a staple of Cape Cod – a quirky, four-walled testament to what we are like as Cape Codders in general – sort of slanty, unique, artsy, and multilayer. We beach dwellers strive to be the best at whatever we do, and the hard working crew of Four Seas is no exception.

I remember Four Seas from my childhood days (I am totally a mint chip girl). My Dad wouldflavours order us scoops in sugar cones and show me how to bite the end off the cone and suck the ice cream through the bottom. We would sit in the open hatch of his beat-up station wagon, watching people in line as they debated the flavor choices on the chalkboard menu. Every once in a while a moan would climb through the line of patrons when a worker would wipe away one chalked selection, signally that the flavor had sold out for the night. Luckily the list was always long and varied and soon the people waiting would begin debating other options.

Really – you could never go wrong with any flavor. Ice cream that good was borderline illegal for its addiction potential.

At Four Seas, toppings were limited, mainly because the ice cream was the true star. It was unneccesary to load such creamy perfection with mass-produced candy bits. Nay, it could almost be considered an insult to the ice cream gods.

The screen door always banged against its faded white frame, and the cow bell jangled with each new customer – nearly inaudible over the sound of voices and laughter. In some ways Four Seas reminded me of Mel’s Diner in American Graffiti – that same vibe of youth, friendship, food, and memories. Many shops strive for such an elusive mix of qualities, though few will earn their way into the same league as Four Seas.


Kids I went to school with often worked there, shoulder to shoulder, scooping madly to keep up with the crowds. The scoops were cone-shaped rather than round, which seemed to make the ice cream even more fantastical. I’m dead serious – don’t mock the scoop!

So yes, I built my vision of The Milk Way on that one ice cream shop I adored and my children now relish. And on Cape Cod, the past often becomes the future, not because we can’t think of anything better, but because the past is just too darn perfect to mess with.

I will be signing UNDERTOW at Four Seas on Saturday, June 7th from 6-9pm.

Come join us for killer ice cream . . . and killer characters.

four seas

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