A few weeks ago I came across a story about a turf battle between two ice cream truck drivers in Pennsylvania. Evidently one of the drivers tried to run the other drivers off the road.
In my investigation of the webpage reporting the incident, I found this comment posted by a “Miss Polly,” the wife of the victimized driver (all quoted material is sic) :
Hi Everyone, this is Miss Polly, I am the owner of the Ice Cream truck that actually called the police because the other Driver ran my husband off the road and almost hit children…The other driver has ran me off the road in another instance last year….[and] is intimidated by a female. I would never let my kids get ice cream off the trucks in our neighborhood b/c they were so scary looking…And so you all know…we are the ONLY ice cream truck business licensed in Uniontown, Pa…the other owner is not licensed and is operating illegally. The permit office is sending him a complaint letter. If you would like to see pics of our truck, us, our children and our fans, visit us on Facebook 🙂
Does anything arrest a child’s attention like the music of an ice cream truck coming down the street? During summer evenings, it did not matter how deep we were into a Monopoly game, or large random hole in the backyard; we would drop our little plastic hotels or little plastic shovels, shake down the closest adult, and run out to meet the truck, screaming “ice cream man” and shoving slower kids out of the way.
As I reflect on those innocent days, when the ice cream cost under a dollar, and could be consumed with digestive impunity, I try to imagine what it would have looked like to see another ice cream truck coming down the street in the opposite direction at the same time.
The first signal would be the music. The same tune would crackle from the trucks’ speakers – Scott Joplin’s ragtime classic, “The Entertainer” – but one measure out of phase, so that as the two trucks converged in front of my home, the dissonance would intensify, signaling that something dramatic was about to happen, and that there would be more than enough Bubble O’Bills with the red gumball nose to go around.
But instead of stopping, the two trucks would accelerate towards each other. Out of each driver’s-side window would emerge a lance in the shape of a waffle cone. The change in my hand would grow sweaty as I watched the ice cream men joust on my street.
Time would slow down. My friends and I would look from one truck to the other, and instead of the loud engine and crackly ragtime, we would hear galloping horses and the drums and strings from the Battle of Stirling scene in Braveheart. And one of the drivers – the one who came everyday, the one we knew and loved, the one who I had shortchanged on more than one occasion and who never called me out or told my mother – shouts to his enemy:
“You may take my route…but you’ll never take my Good Humor!”
Then each lance would pierce the opposite windshield, and the two trucks would collide and be annihilated instantly, like matter meeting anti-matter in a particle accelerator, leaving us kids with a puff of smoke, and a scattered and smoldering pile of Pop Rocks, over which we would fight to the death. Or until our parents called us in, whichever came first.
And to mark the end of an era, we would keep the money meant for ice cream, and never speak a word about it.
Did an ice cream truck grace your neighborhood? Did you run out to meet the truck like your pants were on fire?