It’s a hot day and my thoughts have turned to ice cream and its cold cousins.
If I heard the magic music right now, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from running to the road coins in hand.
One of my preschool memories is the afternoon music of the ice cream truck.
It may not have been a melodic sound to adults, but to a kid of 4 in 1953 it was even better than the song asking “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?”
The ice cream truck music set off a Pavlovian response in me, as I guess it did in most children. I suppose that’s why no marketing expert changed the melody. The last time I heard it sounded just like the first.
For kids in neighborhoods where streets formed convenient grids, there may have been plenty of time to find a parent when the ice cream music first became discernable in the distance.
Living on long La. 1, I had to rush to find mom or dad before the truck got to my house. Sometimes I sadly saw the little green vehicle with its Pied Piper music roll by before I could find a parent.
Depending on when dad’s payday fell, I may or may not have been able to coax someone with loose change to walk with me to the road.
Maybe the ice cream truck was the first hint I had that we weren’t rich.
It was also part of a lesson, which most children learn young, about which parent to ask for particular things.
For ice cream, my dad was the first choice. My mom was more frugal, and my dad had a sweet tooth.
Walking to the road, my father and I would discuss what we were going to have.
That probably helped to keep the ice cream man - frosty air floating out of his truck’s freezer - from waiting too long while a 4-year-old boy made up his mind on the big decision of his day.
I ignored the cups of ice cream you had to eat with a flat imitation of a spoon that tasted like wood.
Adults didn’t eat ice cream off a stick back then, so dad would get a cup of sherbet for mom and a cup of chocolate ice cream for himself.
The ice cream bars covered with hard chocolate got my nickel more often than anything else, but the
Fudgesicles were tempting.
Later a creamy mixture of orange sherbet and ice cream on a stick found its way onto the truck and became my favorite for a while.
However, the Popsicles were always a temptation, not just because they were cold and crunchy, but because of the chance for a “free stick.”
As we walked back toward the house, I worked my way down to the stick as quickly as I could without freezing my brain.
As the stick started to appear from the ice, I looked for the first hint of blue letters saying “Free.”
If a letter peeped through the ice, I knew I’d be able to stop the truck again when I heard the magic music the next day.
Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.