Benefield: Medicine, milkshakes and love get longtime Santa Rosa couple through cancer

2 February 2023

In the kitchen of his Santa Rosa home, Rich Hoffman, 89, plugs in his century-old Arnold soda fountain mixer — just to hear the noise.

The machine is teal-colored, but a little research tells me the official hue is known as jadeite.

It whirs to life.

For Hoffman there is comfort in the sound, in the reliability of the old machine.

Growing up in Wisconsin, he worked at a soda fountain. He talks about how the old machines didn’t simply spin the ice cream, milk and malt powder, but brought the ingredients up and down, then in a circle.

It makes a difference in the taste, he insists.

When Toby, Hoffman’s wife of 66 years hears the machine whir to life on her kitchen counter, she hears less the sound of superior engineering, and more the hum of something different.

To her, it sounds like love.

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