Summertime Rituals: The Ice Cream Truck
I heard it again in the distance. The tinny sound of a player piano. The musical theme song from “The Sting”. It took a moment for my brain to process what I was hearing into logical thought. Then I remembered.
“It’s the ice cream man!” I forgot all about him. He came around last summer too.
Lately, that tune is like a siren’s song we follow mindlessly to the end of the driveway on hot days, which is pretty much everyday now. When we’ve been working outside in the heat for hours and we know there’s a cool creamy treat waiting there, it’s hard to resist the call.
Saturday evening, the old man said he heard it and ran around looking for his slippers. Luckily, he had pants on, which isn’t always the case at that time of the day. We shuffled excitedly up the drive, stiff and sore from working, only to stand there waiting, waiting, waiting. Eventually, we realized that the music, and the ice cream, was getting farther and farther away. We missed the ice cream truck! Damn. We shuffled dejectedly back down the drive.
But yesterday, we were ready. When he came, the old man was right on it, and we put the treats in the freezer to enjoy later. The old man got a Good Humor strawberry shortcake first time out. It tasted like it was coated with little dried bits of dehydrated Robitussin and cocoa butter flakes from a jar swiped off the shelves at Rite-Aid. Not at all like I remembered them from my childhood. Of course at the time we thought Swanson TV Dinners were a delicacy, so maybe, they taste exactly the same as they’ve always tasted.
I’m partial to the Mexican brand treats myself–coconut bars, walnut bars, and chocolate coated berry bars. The ingredients on the label are all recognizable. You won’t find anything there that sounds like an ingredient from Vladimir Putin’s Mixology Guide: Cocktails for Dissenters. And they taste good.
I used to eat a lot of the strawberry shortcake and chocolate eclair bars as a kid. I wasn’t a popsicle fan at all, even though they were the cheapest choice (and Lord knows my Dad raised me to be cheap). For me it it was all about the frozen bovine broth. If I wanted frozen juice I could go home and fill Mom’s popsicle tray with Welch’s grape juice–for nothing.
And if I only had a dime to spend, I would get one of those little push up tubes of ice cream or the little cup that came with a tiny wooden spoon. The spoon was rough and was hell on your tongue, but I wasn’t gonna complain. They cost a dime kid. Hit the road.
These days, with inflation and all, it costs us four bucks for a couple of bars. But the anticipation of that treat, the little shiver I get when I hear the tinny piano playing “The Sting”, and the camaraderie of walking down the driveway with the old man to indulge in a summer ritual that harkens us both back to our childhoods–priceless.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott