Friday, March 15, 2013

"Good Humor Man"

12x12" oil on masonite

I remember when the ice cream trucks changed. Before 1977 there was the Good Humor Man, after 1977 there was a guy named Al in a truck covered with stickers selling everything from Doritos to Bubbleyum. He used to allow kids to buy on credit. A kid in my neighborhood racked up a $20 tab before Al gently cut him off. Finally the kid's mom came to the truck one day and paid his debt and the boy was back in business.

The Good Humor Man couldn't compete with Al. The ice cream was good, but there weren't that many choices. I really loved the Good Humor strawberry eclairs, but most kids were more interested in Bomb Pops and Italian ices from Al. I liked Italian ices too, but I loved the whole Good Humor style. The heavy chrome handled refrigerator doors. The white suit. The incredibly cool shiny change dispenser he wore on his belt. I was very impressed by the whole presentation. It seemed like a special event when the Good Humor truck pulled up ringing its bells.

On the other hand, Al was a heavy guy in his late fifties who wore old t-shirts and always seemed to need a shave. His truck didn't look any better than he did, it was pretty beat up and endlessly blasted Pop Goes the Weasel. The truth is, Al was a decent guy. He actually became friends with the kids and would stay and talk and laugh. Everybody liked him despite his ragged appearance.

I'm sure there were Good Humor men that had a similar rapport with their regulars in earlier times, but by the mid seventies most of the Good Humor men seemed cautious and reserved. Many of these men were in their late sixties, clean cut and clearly from a different time. I don't think they had much in common with the long haired ragamuffins that seemed to have taken over the parks and playgrounds. I can't say I blame them for being a bit nervous around this new generation.

I don't recall seeing a Good Humor Truck after the summer of 1977. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, change is inevitable and I suppose I liked the infinite choices Al provided. It was nice to be able to buy a Sugar Daddy if I wasn't in the mood for ice cream, but part of me really missed watching the man in white open his little refrigerator door and reach in through the frosty air to get me a strawberry eclair.

1 comment:

Pam Adams said...

I loved the 50-50 bars & drumsticks. I can still hear the Good Humor Man's tune coming down our street. Thank you Michael for the happy memory.