In Memory of Ralph Archibald
Having the job of recounting the life at Ben Franklin’s gravesite prior to opening The Franklin Fountain, you’d think I would have been prepared for the death of Dr. Franklin. I wasn’t; however, keeping his memory alive continues my work here…
I fondly recall the tingle down my spine the first time Ben Franklin walked down those ruddy bricks of Market Street to investigate a new business bearing his name. Would it live up to his standards?
I’ll not soon forget his first order at the fountain. A Michigander first, born Ralph Archbold. To his delight we met his childhood memory – a Vernor’s Ginger Soda, he fondly recalled, and mixed with creamy Vanilla Ice Cream-known to the old timers as a “Boston Cooler.” His seated satisfaction beamed at a table outside.
Another time, jolly Ben literally broke the antique wooden stool in half sitting at what became a favorite counter seat in the early years of The Franklin Fountain. A repair was made in short order and any embarrassment another may have felt, meant nothing to Ben, as it proved a real life opportunity to shed light on his humorous self deprecation and ‘learned improvement.’
He graced us with his presence on our First Anniversary “Founder’s Day” in the late summer of 2005 and again on our 10 year anniversary. Accompanying him on that fine day was his new bride, portraying Betsy Ross, who handmade a large bonnet for a dairy cow named ‘Bessie Ross,’ also present for the festivities.
Both Ralph and Linda always went above and beyond personally and professionally to care for us, having settled in Springfield nearby the Berley homestead in Media. They knew the meaning of stopping and asking how life was going, even holding my first child Adeline.
He was a cheerleader, a supporter and a friend. A mutually agreeable man, Ralph once found me in the Blockbuster Video aisles carrying a copy of a John Adams documentary to the register. With a wink and a nod, he gave me his critique as he had inevitably already seen it.