My earliest recollection on my exposure to ragtime music was at the Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour in Tacoma, Washington during the early to mid 1970's. It was a festive place, even for a deaf boy with a hearing aid who delighted in the sounds of loud drumbeats, bells and sirens over birthday announcements and such. And at near the entrance of Farrell's was an upright player piano that constantly played these unique and mesmerizing ragtime songs only that I didn't know it was called ragtime back then. it was simply cool to listen. I'd stand there in awe as I watched the keyboard move while invisible hands played ragtime scores.
It'd be nice if Farrell's throw in a bit of authenticity by having a ragtime pianist at the piano rather than use a piano player or somehow have them help sponsor those ragtime festivals. But sadly there are only two stores right now and Farrell's just recently in Novemember 2008 got over a 5 year lawsuit that prevented them from moving forward. They are now making plans to open more stores and recapture those novelty days when going to Farrell's means having a truly good time. Hearing the words "Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour" brings back good childhood memories of a good time. Farrell's and ragtime are synomous with each other. It brings back the feeling of good times.
Maybe it's time to make a special dedication to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour at one of the ragtime festivals in honor of Bob Farrell and Ken McCarthy, the founders of Farrell's, for helping keep nostalgia alive and making it fun?
You can go here and review the history of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour from the past to the present.
ADDENDUM: If you're a fan of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant you can join one in Facebook where there are currently some 24,000+ fans of Farrell's.