Don’t you miss the old days when you could hear the ice cream truck from a mile away, dinging out its familiar melody for blocks? If your old memories don’t include that sound and the anticipation that rises as it gets closer to you, you truly missed out. The “good old days”, for our family, included growing up in the year-round heat of the Arizona desert with 70 degree winters and 110+ degree summers. Kids and their parents sought out the ice cream man.
As a kid, my dad was the Ice Cream Man! He had a big red ice cream truck, he bought and hand-painted himself. There were six of us kids. So to keep a profit, he would only take one of us out on his route at a time during those hot summer days. I remember he didn’t only sell ice cream and treats, but he sold frozen fried corn. My memory won’t allow me to even fathom where or how it was fried but I remember we used to eat it. Because I was so young, I can only assume that most of those times were good memories.
He had stickers of the ice cream he sold decorating the sides of his truck. My oldest brother used to help him a lot more than the rest of us and we dared never to touch the dry ice used to keep the ice cream cold. My brother was burned by it a few times and it took his skin off his hand. I don’t recall many more specifics about those routes but I do remember eating ice cream with my daddy as he weaved in and out of the neighborhoods speaking to his usual customers and being proud to sell his ice cream to kids, most, he knew by name. My favorite was the red, white, and blue popsicles that were called bullets.
Ice cream, salt rocks, cold soft drinks, and candy; he sold till there were none left. I think I even have a memory of him selling little bags of popcorn my momma would pop the night before. My daddy, the ice cream man. He was humble then, and when some kids would try to poke fun, I didn’t even have to defend my daddy because somebody knew him for fixing their dads car, refrigerator, or their folks air condition. He was a jack of all trades.
Little did they know, at the time of his last routes, my daddy had been a preacher, owned his own security business before, could sing beautifully, was a poet, and musician, had rubbed elbows with celebrities due to his degrees in Television and Film, and more degrees would follow. This goes to show the job doesn’t make the man, the man makes the man. My dad wasn’t a perfect father, but at that moment he was a provider when I was young enough to see it and just old enough to appreciate what that meant.