Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ice Cream Trucks

I remember lying on the grass in my back yard on summer afternoons with my brother and friends listening to the sounds of the neighborhood; sprinklers running, birds twittering, the kids playing some game over on the next block. Life was good; we were safe and happy and had everything going for us. Slowly I would become aware of a new sound way off in the distance; ding-ding, ding-ding, that unmistakable ringing that announced that the ice-cream truck was in the neighborhood. Later, that bell was replaced by the amplified sound of carnival music, but the message was the same, ice cream was coming.

As I listened to the truck’s approach, the noise from the game the next block suddenly died out as the participants broke up and each ran to their homes to beg that nickel or dime from their moms so they could score that Popsicle or ice cream cone as the truck came down their street. It was a moment of urgency because if you needed an extra moment of begging time with Mom you ran the risk of missing the truck as it passed your house. I knew that when the truck reached Sunderland, the street next to ours, that it was time for us to go see mom and get those coins to trade for that blessed relief on a hot summer afternoon.

As the truck stopped in front of the game playing crowd, I would have a moment of panic that they would buy the last of my favorite treats, the chocolate Popsicle, the Fudgesicle, and that I would have to settle for something else. The anticipation would build as the truck pulled away from the game players and they sat down in the shade to eat; I could see them and it looked as if each and every one had chosen a Fudgesicle. Things were not looking so good. I knew the truck had to drive down four more blocks, two more on Sunderland and two on my street before reaching my house. That meant four more groups of hungry kids. “Were they all going to want Fudgesicles?” my mind raced with the possibilities. It seemed to me, that if I were going to get a Fudgesicle, the truck would have to be loaded with nothing but Fudgesicles.

By now, we were all in the front yard, peering down the street, surveying the other groups of kids in the last two blocks between us and the truck. Would those kids all want Fudgesicles too? Our group would begin to talk about our own choices, of course, everyone wanted Fudgesicles. My heart sank, surely there would not be enough for everyone and someone would have to take second choice. So I would be thinking about what my choice would be; that tangy lemon Popsicle, or strawberry, or banana. They were all good but not as good as that dream choice, the Fudgesicle.

Finally the ice cream truck was in front of my house and alas at the last minute the girls on our block ran out and of course, being raised the way we were, we gave way to the girls and let them order first. Of course, each and every one wanted a Fudgesicle. Finally it was my turn; I did not even have to ask because the truck driver KNEW that I wanted a Fudgesicle. He gave me a sad eyed smile and shook his head before breaking out in a toothy grin and handed me that sweet frozen nectar of summer afternoons, my own Fudgesicle, snug in its paper wrapper with frost forming from the humid Florida air. Life was good, the truck had enough Fudgesicles to go around, he always had enough!

Today, as I remember sitting on the grass in the back yard with my brother and friends with my mouth exploding to the chocolate flavor of another Fudgesicle, I can’t help but feel a little sadness for the kids of today, who don’t enjoy that wonderful anticipation of the ice cream truck. Sure there are a few around but today’s economics make waiting for the ice-cream truck a much rarer experience that it used to be. Oh MY!

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