Sweet memories, served from a truck
I was in my office one Monday morning when I barely heard a faint knocking at my door. Opening the door, I saw a girl with shiny blond hair holding a clipboard filled with papers. She explained that she was asking people in our neighborhood to sign a petition allowing the ice cream truck to come back.
Come back? Not being a child anymore, I never knew it had left. But it had. It seems that my town's board of selectmen had rescinded the license that allowed the ice cream truck to sell its wares. There was some sort of ordinance dating back to 1982 that prohibited people from selling food from vehicles in public areas.
I think that sometimes laws made to protect local businesses from competition forget about what made all of our childhoods and our old neighborhoods enjoyable. It wouldn't take long to search out a person who remembers listening for those familiar bells of the white truck that made our mouths water even before it was seen. The truck with the man wearing the remarkably white suit and white hat was a favorite part of our summer days.
I remember playing stickball during the heat of the summer just about ready to fall over because it was the bottom of the 43rd inning and a loss would never be accepted. Then I heard the bells of summer come around the corner so we could finally break up what we would start again after the last of the ice cream was licked from our thumbs.
All of the neighborhood kids made a mad rush back to their homes so they could plead with their mothers for some money to buy what would become their favorite flavor forever.
Who could forget the strawberry shortcake on a stick that was covered with pinkish crumbs that mixed perfectly with the vanilla ice cream and strawberry-flavored ice that was deep inside the pop?
Another favorite of mine was the chocolate éclair that exploded in your mouth. It was also covered by the same crumbs as the strawberry shortcake but these were brown in color and chocolate in taste.
One of the worse days of my young life was a day they ran out of chocolate éclairs. Instead, I had to settle for a toasted almond éclair on a stick. It was good, but there is no way almonds can take the place of chocolate.
The Cyclone was another favorite destined to become a stain on my shirt. In fact, I am convinced that after eating every flavor Cyclone and Popsicle the Good Humor truck had to offer, I was one of the first people on Earth who had a tie-dyed shirt. How I wish I still had that shirt.
My favorite of favorites was the Buried Treasure. This gooey, fruit-colored ice that covered vanilla ice cream was always fought over if the man in the white suit said there were only a few left.
He would let us pick our own because every one was different. At least that's what he told us. It was not that the pop was so tasty, but rather it had a plastic stick instead of the normal wooden one. On the end of that red, blue, or green stick was a plastic treasure none of us could actually identify. But we all knew it was a treasure, and that after we ate it, we would be the sole owner of whatever it was.
Who could forget the swarms of kids from all over the neighborhood who ran to the truck after extorting money from their parents to buy their favorite ice cream treat?
There was a kind of caste system about who would be the first in line. It didn't matter if you got there first. People like Simon the Silencer and Becky the Beast would always push their way through the crowd to the truck, and few in line would dare challenge them.
If a neighborhood kid ever coaxed his parents to go with him to the truck, they were always served first. But this happened only to small kids. If a big kid ever had his parents with him at the ice cream truck, he would never be able to live it down. He would be burdened with the name Little Jimmy for the rest of his life.
Neighborhoods also had their own social order system. The ice cream truck had to drive down certain roads that were in the center of particular neighborhoods. These neighborhoods were connected, but they were also separated by where the stickball players came from. It was kind of like having separate little countries in one big neighborhood.
I don't think I ever remember having one of our competitors show up when it was our time to enjoy the truck.
So I applaud this little child and her friends and family for supporting the concept of changing the ordinance to allow the ice cream trucks to visit all the neighborhoods once again.
I want my family – and my neighbors' families – to have the many memories that truck has to offer.