Through the magic of the internet I found myself over at Hey Joe who was talking about his son stopping the ice cream man. This seemed like a golden opportunity to tell you to check out his blog and to tell you my two favorite stories that involve the ice cream man, one involves the ice cream truck that wasn’t and the other explains why the ice cream man won’t stop for my father.
The Fake Out Truck
My neighborhood was like an ice cream war zone with carefully guarded territories and times. It was like the Balkans at the turn of the 20th century, or right now. The upshot to this was that as many as four times a day I could hear the chimes from down the block and have time to put down my Atari controller, beg for or steal a dollar and be downing a Bomb Pop or some Fun Dip.
There was a wild card known as Truck # 5, he came by only about 3 times a summer but I remember him just the same.
Truck #5 looked like an ice cream truck and sounded like an ice cream truck, it may have even once been an ice cream truck but I know ice cream trucks this was no ice cream truck.
The mystery fifth truck was owned by a guy who drove around sharpening knives.
I don’t know how one decides to be a traveling knife sharpener, or if it’s even something that can be decided. I also have no idea what kind of money there is to be made in the knife sharpening business but apparently it’s enough to afford a fake ice cream truck. That’s right, all the bells and music of an ice cream truck, with none of the ice cream. Three times a summer I’d hear the music and run out to the street only to find some dude sharpening a butcher knife; it was disappointing to say the least.
I’m not sure who came up with the idea to combine all the thrills of the ice cream man with all the dangers of a…um…a guy with a lot of sharp knives but I curse the day they were born.
The Way Things Are Done
The kids on the block are not big fans of my dad, but not because he was ever mean to them. My dad has always been good to kids, and for a while they all liked him back. He kept himself in good standing through good Halloween candy and a liberal policy as far as playing in his yard went.
Then one day kids started crossing the street rather than walk past his house and the moms would sadly shake their heads as they drove past. All because my dad is a man who won’t budge from his principles.
Like most stories of a man fighting the system this one involves an ice cream man. This ice cream man seemed like your typical suburban vendor until my dad discovered a dark side. You see one afternoon he got a craving for an Italian ice, not just any one though, a Marino’s Italian Ice. I’m not sure if these are available outside of the New York and New Jersey area so if you’ve never heard of them they are pre packaged ice treats that come with a handy little wooden spoon things to eat them with. The spoon was not much of a spoon, just a flat little thing that looked kinda like a miniature paddle but they were as essential to Italian ice as a straw is to a milkshake.
When dad heard the ice cream man coming he ran outside to stop him, asked for a cherry flavored Italian ice, paid and then noticed that something was wrong. There was the ice but there was no wooden spoon. Thinking there was an oversight he said,
“Hey where’s my spoon”.
-“I don’t have any spoons”
Dad did what any reasonable man would do and said “Well I don’t want it then.”
-“You got spoons in your house don’t you?”
“That’s not the point, of course I have spoons in the house but when you eat one of these you gotta have a wooden spoon”
“Hey pal, I got no wooden spoons”
“Well you shouldn’t be selling these then…You’re a disgrace to your profession. I don’t know how you even became an ice cream man”
The ice cream man then said. “Look, here’s you dollar back you don’t have to be an asshole about it”
That was the wrong thing to say…unless you are an ice cream man looking to get an ass kicking on a summer day because that’s what happened. As the ice cream man drove away he was reminded not to forget the wooden spoons next time.
Of course there was no next time. The block was absent of ice cream men after that day and the kids all knew why. My father was no longer the nice guy, he was the guy punched the ice cream men. The kids just didn’t understand yet that a man has to believe in something or he’s got no reason to go on living. It just happened that my father believed to his very core that an Italian ice was worthless without a wooden spoon and I can’t say I disagree with him.