Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Good Humor Man

At a Second Hand store I recently found a new book containing all the best Little Golden Books of the time past. The large book has in it my favorite story growing up, The Poky Little Puppy. I also loved The Lion's Paw, and I Can Fly. I brought the book to school and I read a story a day from it to my kindergarten group. They LOVE it. I noticed that the language is richer than many of today's stories, and the illustrations are beautiful, and being from the 1960s, so retro!

On Friday I read to them The Good Humor Man. This is a story about the ice cream truck that trundled around neighborhoods, ringing the bell or playing the happy tune, and the kids playing outside in all the yards would run to the truck and buy ice cream.

When I was growing up in the 1960-70, age 0-10, we used to visit my grandparents at their beach house on Narragansett Bay. They spent their summers at what we called The Beach House (as opposed to their regular domicile in the city of Providence). The Beach House was 3 miles from where my mother and father and sister and brother and I lived all the time. All the cousins would come for the summer with the aunts and uncles to stay the summer. My great aunt and uncle owned the house next door, and other great-aunts and uncles owned summer houses nearby. There were always cousins and second cousins and relatives around.

The beach neighborhood was filled with lots of other kids too. We were at the end of a long peninsula and there was not a lot of traffic. We would play outside all day on the water or in the water, and in the afternoon and evening on the lawn or riding our bikes all around. In those days as a kid you could roam around the neighborhood unsupervised all day long!!

In the afternoons the ice cream truck wold roll by. Our ears that could not hear our parents from three feet next to us shouting to come in and eat lunch suddenly turned dog-sensitive and we could hear the truck's bell from 2 miles away.

The moment we hear the bell and ice cream jingle song we would go instantly mad. It only cost a dime in those days to buy an ice cream.We turned into unreasoning, clambering, hysterical creatures rushing to the house begging for dimes. We thought we would absolutely die if we didn't get an ice cream. The pull of the ice cream truck was total.

We gathered at the truck knowing what we wanted to buy. The Guardian UK
Though I liked Ice Cream Sandwiches a lot I usually bought an Italian Ice. I was never a huge ice cream fan until in my 50s and even now I rarely eat it. I loved Italian ice. This a frozen not too sweet dessert made of frozen water, bits of fruit and fruit syrup. It can in a covered little cup where you peeled off the top and ate the ice with a wooden flat spoon. it was hard to eat. It was so frozen solid the best you could do is use the side of the wooden spoon to scrape the ice up. After a while it had melted a bit and you could dig the spoon into it to unearth small chunks. I loved the lemon flavor.

How wonderful we had a childhood where we roamed, played with cousins, and could run up to the ice cream man and buy a snack for a dime. My kids at school listened attentively to the story and their eyes were agleam just as if I was telling a story about a frog prince and a magic wizard from a faraway land. But to me, it was real and I lived it. Just another bit of history passing away and only known through books, and memories of old people...

Me at the club pool still not liking ice cream & choosing a Popsicle instead
Further Reading

The History of the Ice Cream Truck

Del's Frozen Lemonade


Grace to You said...

I grew up in the same era...we stayed out all day long in the summer, until the street lights came on, or until mom hollered for us to come in for lunch or dinner. By the time I was middle school age, I was riding my bike into new (to me) neighborhoods, deliberately getting myself lost, for the challenge of finding my way home again.

The contrast between then and now is striking - my youngest son will be 13 tomorrow and I was tempted to panic when I realized he had left to walk to the grocery store a couple of blocks away this afternoon without his phone.

I liked it better the way it was before. :)

Eugenie said...

Amazingly, we have 2 ice cream trucks that visit our neighborhood. My son is obsessive about it and at times convinces me to walk to the next street down because he can't wait 10 minutes for the ice cream man to get to our house ;) But, on the down side, it's $2.50!!! I pay up tho, I'm a sucker for nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

"Our ears that could not hear our parents from three feet next to us shouting to come in and eat lunch suddenly turned dog-sensitive..." HA, funny how that works.
That picture is adorable!! Hope you have it framed. Great childhood moment.