I was walking along in my neighborhood one Sunday afternoon when I heard that unmistakable sound of a happy tune floating over the area from the original version of a food truck. If I’d had little kids with me, they’d be jumping up and down clamoring for money for the ice cream man. when my kids were little, all they needed was a quarter or two, but they would come running from wherever they were, bolting into the house and scrambling for their piggy banks. The urgency for this dramatic event always baffled me. We had plenty of ice cream treats in the freezer, but treats from the ice cream man were worth even scraped knees and elbows as they flew out the door and out to the street in order to catch him before he drove off. Every summer, as I heard the song, “Turkey in the Straw,” I knew the season had begun. But on this day, the tune was a little different. It started of with a cheery “Hello!” in a female voice. I was fooled at first in thinking it was a real live young woman, so I turned and waved. But I realized my error as I kept hearing her call out “Hello!” over and over as the truck drove slowly down the street and turned the corner. I wondered what they were selling these days. When my kids were a little older, the big sellers were Bomb Pops and Pushups, which by that time were more like a dollar apiece. There was no real ice cream, like when I was a kid.
When I was very small, the ice cream man walked down the center of the street pushing a freezer on wheels, and he called out with his own voice, “Eskimo Pies…Eskimo Pies.” Now that was a real treat. Later, as a teen, the ice cream man sold soft serve ice cream in cones, and when I heard that jaunty little tune, it was my dad who walked out to the street, digging his wallet out of his pocket. He bought 4 cones, one for each of us, and one for each of the 2 Dalmatians we had at the time. It was so darling to see them holding their ice cream cones between their crossed paws, licking as fast as they could, and then holding a paw up to their foreheads with an ice cream headache. I wish I had a picture to show you, but you probably have your own memories of the ice cream man in your neighborhood.
Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”
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