This past Sunday as I was enjoying a day at the pool at my apartment complex I noticed some cheerful kid’s music playing. I looked up from my chair and past the gate that surrounded the pool area and out onto the street that runs right through the middle of the apartment complex. What I saw slowly moving by brought a smile to my face.
I guess before the smile crept on my face I had a mild sense of shock. I mean I had no idea that an ice cream truck would ever take the time to visit my apartment complex! But when I realized that there are a lot of children that live around me and that kids who live in apartments deserve ice cream just as much as kids who live in houses it made sense, and a feeling of happiness went through my body. In fact, I almost left my spot at the pool and dashed through the gate to flag down the truck and buy some ice cream. Actually that is a complete lie. These days I would never buy a popsicle from the ice cream man but that didn’t mean I didn’t think about back in the day when I couldn’t live unless I got a treat from him.
Back when I was seven years old, I proudly professed to my parents and my teacher at school that I wanted to be an ice cream man when I grew up. This was after my President of the United States dream and before my professional athlete aspirations. I am not kidding though, I legitimately wanted to be an ice cream man. I thought he had it made. He got to ride a cool little truck around, had an endless supply of ice cream in the back, and hauled in all those quarters and dollar bills from everyone! I thought he had to have been one of the richest dudes in the world.
Along with professional wrestling, the U.S. Presidents, and vampires, the ice cream truck/man was another thing I was fascinated about when I was really young. I would wait all year long for summer to come and once it did I would sit out on the front porch and wait for the ice cream man to come. Of course he probably only came 5% of the days during the summer but it didn’t stop me from wasting precious childhood moments hoping he would come all those other days. I would psych myself out believing that I heard the ice cream truck’s music when I really didn’t, listen to my sister when she would lie about seeing it, and convince myself on several occasions that he for sure would be coming that night when he never did.
The 5% of the time that the ice cream man did come during the summer I was either in two locations. The first was at the dinner table. My parents would cringe when we would all be eating a nice meal and then all of a sudden you could hear “The Entertainer” music shooting through our open windows and sending the three of us kids into a frenzy. The other time he would come was when I was in bed. My parents put us to sleep at notoriously early times…I am talking bush league times. On many occasions the ice cream truck would roll through our neighborhood a little past 8 p.m. and we would be in our bedrooms. Besides when Santa Claus would come through on a fire truck in the winters, this was our only other “Get out of bed” card. We would hear that music and my parents would just concede to us jumping out of bed and begging for money.
And that brings me to my next point. My parents maybe paid for ice cream about half the times he would come by. The other half of the times I was either counting out pennies or going without. Although completely enraged during the times I did not get ice cream, now as an adult I can look back and realize it was just part of my parents’ plan to instill discipline and self-control in us.
Just a little bit on my childhood ice cream truck and the products offered: The ice cream truck that serviced me throughout my younger years really wasn’t a truck at all. It was more like a golf cart that had a large freezer built in the back. Sounds pretty tacky but it did look presentable and was always freshly painted and in working order. Throughout the years I have seen some sketchy looking ice cream trucks so I feel fortunate that I ate ice cream from a vehicle that didn’t look like it was smuggling drugs. Our ice cream truck served (for heavily inflated prices) popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars, malt cups, and my favorite, sherbert on a stick. Whenever the truck would come by there would always be a special sherbert popsicle dessert in the form of some character. Sometimes it would be Mario, sometimes it would be a Ninja Turtle, sometimes it would be Tweety Bird. Whatever it was, it would always have bubble gum added in some way! Like Mario would have a bubble gum nose or the Ninja Turtle would have bubble gum eyes. Even though the bubble gum was hard as a rock and had absolutely no flavor I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
I don’t mind when something reminds me at my old age of something from my childhood. Not only does it send good feelings throughout my soul, it also gives me something to write about. Although I now buy my ice cream from a grocery store instead of a vehicle I appreciate what ice cream trucks do to highlight the joys of being a kid. Don’t Blink.