Summer technically commences when the sun reaches the most northern point in the sky at noon. The Farmers' Almanac suggests that day is June 21 this year. But, we prefer to use snow cone stands as our guide to the season, particularly Aunt Stelle's Sno Cones in Oak Cliff.
For the past 51 years, Aunt Stelle's Sno Cones has opened on the last Saturday in April to long lines of loyal customers, and Lee Albert has been there every one of those seasons since her dad opened this small stand in 1962, before she could even peer over the counter.
The snow cones here are unique. Albert's dad created the blade mechanism inside the snow cone machine, which was given to them when they first opened, and they still use that same machine. They sharpen the blade about once a week and had to replace the motor once, but otherwise it's the same. They also make all the syrups from scratch.
If you haven't been to Aunt Stelle's before, you should track them down one weekend. Here are a few rookie tips:
1. Just park wherever. Like, really, wherever. It can get a little messy, but don't fret.
2. Try a Pink Lady at least once. It's a house specialty.
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3. Be prepared to wait a bit, but don't be grumpy about it. Lines are supposed to be long at snow cone stands.
4. Yes, every year they shut down (people sometimes panic when this happens). But, they also reopen every year. Aunt Stelle's Sno Cone's season runs from the last Saturday in April through Labor Day every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
5. Cash only.
6. Most important rule: The last person in line at 9 o'clock on the DOT, is absolutely the last person served. Really, they're tired. They need to go home. Don't try to sneak in line after or argue that it was just 9:01 and you life depends on you getting a large coconut snow cone. Be in line by 9 p.m. or try again next time.