ok, I’m back from our son’s wedding, trying hard not to let the idiocy of our government destroy the good feelings. Ice cream has got to help. So here are some memories of that addictive feel-good stuff.
When There Was Nothing to Do—We Ate Ice Cream
“The truck was driven by a man with one name—Dave.”
It was the sound of bells that not only heralded spring but which later would be remembered as among the best times life presented young children. (I was going to say “kids” but I heard my mother from a celestial distance saying, “Kids are young goats. Children are young people.” Really annoying.)
Six bells jangled in unison on the front of that Good Humor ice cream truck. The truck was driven by a man with one name—Dave. We grew up with Dave. He was there spring through summer until we went to college. Actually, he was still there; it was us who weren’t.
There was always money on the table with instructions from mom in case she missed the Good Humor man (never the ice cream truck, never the ice cream man—always the Good Humor man). Dave had such a hold on us that eating anyone else’s ice cream seemed like it would be a personal affront to him; indeed, taking food from his family’s mouths. I guess that’s one of the several guilty pleasures of ice cream…
This refrigerator on wheels had two seats and a running board, and while printed boldly on both sides and in the cab was the warning: “No Passengers Allowed,” Dave was a sly one and knew how to cement loyalty. When a few of us met him at the head of the street. He’d say, “Hop on,” and we’d ride down to the end of the block, or until his first customer came out. It was a little thing, but Dave understood that it had a big impact. Dave was a psychologist who sold ice cream or an ice cream man who could have been a psychologist.
Then it was time to make some money. The small, very thick doors would be pulled open and a puff of iced air whooshed out. Depending on whether you wanted a pop, cone, or quart, he’d rummage in one compartment or another and never once did he say, “Nuts, can’t find it!” Or, “How ’bout trying this one?” Dave knew his customers and he stocked accordingly. Dr. Dave he was.
On one college spring break, I again heard those bells. I was, of course, by then too cool to race down the stairs and beg for a ride. Instead, I waved to this much older man, now with many fewer teeth well-yellowed from age (no super-white, super-clean toothpastes yet on the market, no-less little strips to hug your teeth into whiteness), and his white always sharply creased Good Humor man uniform seemingly much the worse for wear. Dave would not be much longer for offering up the joys of spring. Almost all “his kids” were now grown. The neighborhood wasn’t the fertile field of drooling mouths it used to be. The spirit was still there; the flesh, however, was giving out.
We reminisced for a bit about what he hoped would be his rise to an eternal spring. We discussed who ate what and how much and where they were now. And he told me how good the spring and summer of the Waldorf Courts, the street I grew up on, of Flatbush Brooklyn were to him. Dave had put four children through college on my insatiable urge for chocolate and my mother’s totally incomprehensible addiction to Toasted Almond.
“When the spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people, and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” ~ Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Dave, the bringer of spring, was one of those few–at least from my perspective.
Bill Gralnick, an ice cream eater from way back and still chomping away in spite of some age-related lactose intolerance, can be found here most Sundays, except when he appears here on a Tuesday…
If you care to know a bit more check his webpage at http:www.atleastfrommyperspective.net
And remember his frequent nostrum: Read! It’s good for both of us.