Not in public

April 12, 2014

After doing yard work on a day like today, with the temperature finally getting into the 80’s (a week after having to scrape ice off my windshield last Saturday), a cold treat like ice cream sounds very appealing. You’d think that anywhere that the temperature regularly gets up that high, an ice cream stand would get plenty of business.

But this week I listened to a story on NPR’s All Things Considered, telling about the challenges faced by Rwanda’s first and only ice cream shop.  People whose first experience of ice cream includes an ice cream headache or tooth pain may not associate it with pleasure as we do.

But a bigger obstacle may be the traditional taboo on eating in the street. Sure, you can enjoy ice cream indoors. But most of my early memories of ice cream are outdoors – running to get a treat from the Good Humor truck, enjoying the rare treat of a soft serve ice cream cone from an ice cream stand, trying to finish an ice cream sandwich before it melted at Kingswood Day (an annual event at the high school my father had attended). It seems like ice cream is made for enjoying outdoors.

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Big kids at the ice cream truck

August 13, 2010

When I heard there was an ice cream truck scheduled to stop by this afternoon, I was ambivalent about the idea. I can walk across the street to Wal-Mart and buy ice cream treats that cost much less. And I work in an air conditioned office, so the appeal of a frozen snack is less than it would be otherwise.

On the other hand, I do love ice cream, and if I spend my money on a single ice cream bar from the truck instead of a whole box of them from Wal-Mart, I won’t have the rest of the box sitting around tempting me to eat more.

Then I found out that the truck is owned and driven by a friend of mine. (I hadn’t seen him since I attended his graduation party – from community college – a couple months ago; otherwise I would no doubt have already known about his latest endeavor.) Two years ago, he became unemployed when the company he worked for locked out the union over a contract dispute. He decided to go back to school to become a teacher, and having finished his studies at the local community college, he is about to start classes at the state university.

Our local paper ran a story on him and his ice cream truck. It doesn’t match my memories of the Good Humor man and his truck, perhaps because my memories are from a decade later than his 1957 dairy truck. What I remember most is the music that let us know the truck was in the neighborhood, so we could run inside to get money for ice cream. (I seem to remember often having to chase the truck once we got back out with the money, as there were few children in our neighborhood and the truck would just keep going unless there were kids to stop for.)

If Shane’s truck has music, I didn’t hear it. But he attracted quite a crowd even without it. As I work at the front desk, I was one of the first out the door, even before the department-wide email went out to let everyone know he was there. I took the picture above as the line started to grow. Not long after I went back in, the line stretched up the sidewalk halfway to the building. It was shift change (at least for some departments) at the factory, so he continued to do a brisk business well after most of our department had finished our ice cream.

I asked him, as I paid for my mocha ice cream bar (I thought about getting the coffee ice cream bar, but I asked his opinion and he recommended the mocha), how much he’d have to sell to pay for his investment in the truck and what he put into restoring it. He said he didn’t even want to think about it. But sometimes you have to do what you have a passion for, he pointed out. He has a passion both for history and for restoring classic vehicles. If he’s one of Al’s high school teachers in a few years, I’ll look forward to hearing how Shane’s passion kindles an interest in history among his students.