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This stinkin' hot weather, there are only two places to hide: whatever bus you're riding in, because at least they have A/C, or get off at National City and head for Niederfrank's, 'cause not only are they the first ice cream makers in our fair county, but they have the best thirst-quenching flavors for sweatingly hot days Iike these.

"Ginger," says Jessie when I ask what would fight the heat best. "And I think we may be the only people in town who have it."

This is at Niederfrank's Ice Cream, 726 A Avenue, near W.8th Street, National City (619-477-0828).

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Elmer Niederfrank started making ice cream here in 1948. And the ladies running it now still do as he did, still fully chopping up real fruits and nuts and tasty things such as ginger to go in to flavor the ice cream.

No packaged nothing.

Jessie's fielding a whole bunch of heat-whacked customers.

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They mostly seem to want fruity concoctions like papaya-pineapple, peach, mango, and apple strudel. Also, green tea.

"Actually, we're not so busy as you'd expect," says Jessie. "This kind of weather, it's just too hot to even get up and go out for refreshment. These are the few, the strong."

She hands me my ginger ice cream...

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...I hand over $3.25, and head out to the shade of their sidewalk umbrellas to lick the thing up before it starts running down my shirt front.

I swear. It does put energy back into you. and with National City hitting 90-plus in the sun, man you need it. Here's to you, Elmer!

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