RE: "ICE CREAM MAN!!!" Remember when? Favorites?
Sun, 07/16/06 10:35 PM
By the time I bought my truck, you couldn't do that. Not because you didn't want to, but because the next time you pulled up to that stop all the kids would be whining and crying and pretending they didn't have any money.
No kids in the truck, EVER. That was rule numero uno. You didn't break the barrier between vendor and customer. Not to mean you weren't friendly, but you maintained your role in the community.
I have some stories.
I started in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Brookline, a blue collar middle class neighborhood. It was early in the season, a slow, drizzly day in maybe early April, temps in the low 50s. I was waiting at a stop and a little girl came up to the truck with her littler brother; they were maybe 4 and 2. (I was driving an Econoline van; the earlier pickup trucks, called "jump trucks" because you jumped out at each stop, were being phased out. There were only one or two were left by '81.) I leaned out and said hi and asked what they'd like; the little girl held up about $400 in a wad of 50s and 100s and other bills and asked, "Is this enough money to get an ice cream? I want a cookie ice cream [most expensive] and give him a Purple Pirate [cheapest, 1/2 of a grape popsicle]."
I was still pretty new at being the Good Humor Man, but I knew something was fishy. I asked the girl where her mom was; "Inside sleeping." So I said, "Did she give you this money?" The girl nodded, but not convincingly. So I said, "Did you take this from her purse?" And the little girl nodded again. So I said, "OK. Here." I took a dollar, gave her 50 cents change, and gave her two Purple Pirates and said, "Go put that money back in your mom's purse. You can't get stuff without her knowing." Writing this I can see that I should have sent the kids back empty handed, but I figured I deserved something; another guy might have taken the money and given them a Cookie Sandwich and a Purple Pirate and driven away. I don't think I saw those kids ever again that summer. They might have moved, or Mom might have been anti-Ice Cream truck and that was their only chance, with Mom asleep.
I was in my late 20s and early 30s back then, in pretty good shape, 6'2" and I worked out all winter. I had my share of moms and teen girls come on to me. I have always lived a pretty square life; I never considered that part of my reality, looking for trouble that way. But the world was already a different place by then. After my first year I got a really good route, one that incorporated O'Hara Township and Fox Chapel (Fox Chapel is one of the richest suburbs in America). The kids there were much older than their years. I had one girl, maybe 14 or 15, show me a picture of herself on the beach at Cancun in a bikini, she looked like she was about 24! Holy crap, 25 years later I STILL remember that. "Danger Will Robinson!" blasting in my brain! Jeez. I went about my business, what do you do after that? I hope she turned out OK.
I can write more, if you want. Some of the guys who drove the trucks were normal; some of them were very strange. One guy, we called Spock, he ate heads of raw garlic because he hated people and wanted to stink on purpose, to keep them away. He used to be normal, but he got in a bad accident in the truck, rolled it and suffered brain damage, and turned into a wierdo.