I'm a baby boomer. Today when I hear the ice cream truck approaching the neighborhood I am instantly taken back to a simpler time. My childhood in the inner city.
Like Richard Pryor's classic routine, my friends would be whipped into a full blown frenzy at the sound of the bells, and start shouting at the top of our lungs. That's why my dad called the stuff "scream all."
It could be the bottom of the ninth on the sandlot, tie score, winning run on third and two out. When we heard those bells we'd drop everything and make a crazed dash for the truck. My best pal Marc nickname Meatball (I was Spaghetti) once fell and broke his arm while pursuing the Good Humor man. He got up, and in a state of euphoria continued running, bought his treat, savored it, and only then did he allow his mother to take him to the emergency room. The cast was his badge of honor that summer.
The other neighborhood truck was Uncle Sam's Ice Cream. While the Good Humor truck glistened, the driver was starched and friendly, and his ice cream fresh, Uncle Sam's was a different story. He drove a battered relic, smelt of bad whiskey, and was the Soup Nazi of scream all. His fare was covered with freezer burn. We didn't care. On one occasion a push pop from him caused me to swell up like a dirigible.
My third option was the local Carvel stand. On Mondays their summertime special was fruit salad sundaes for 99 cents. I'd plan my day around them. One at 3, another after dinner, and a third before closing.
Ice cream is like a delicious Rorschach Test. For me it will always trigger sweet memories.
Steve Steinberg, aka Spaghetti, (at left) is a Senior Vice President of Marketing at Jones Lang LaSalle, as well as an ice cream connoisseur and all around good guy.
Image of Spaghetti and Meatball courtesy of Steve Steinberg. Image of ice cream truck treats by Kevin Rosseel on MorgueFile.