Last week, as the mercury hovered around 100, I heard a little musical jingle being played over some loud speakers a few blocks away. After a few seconds I realized this was coming from the ice cream truck that visits our neighborhood occasionally. The truck slowly worked its way towards my street and I got to hear that little jingle about 760 times by the time it got to my house, although by now it didn’t seem so cute. I wondered if Mrs. Cranky Ken would notice if a few of her eggs went suddenly missing. Thankfully, the vision of a headline in our town newspaper titled “Local man, aka Cranky Ken, arrested for egging ice cream truck” stopped me from acting on this impulse. So the ice cream truck passed by and I got to thinking about the period in my youth when a more pleasant sound filled the air on warm summer days. That sound was the ringing bells from the Good Humor truck.
In the summers of the sixties the Good Humor man (and back then it was always a man, not a woman) could be spotted everywhere. He could be found at parades, ball games, play grounds, fairs and, of course, slowly driving down the street where you lived. My hometown was fortunate to have the same pleasant middle-aged Good Humor man named Cookie for several summers. I recall he always had a deep tan, acquired from spending many hours in the sun selling ice cream, which contrasted to his pure white uniform. Kind of like a kid’s version of Walter Cronkite, Cookie was trusted and loved by all the kids in our town. We were lucky to have the Good Humor man drive by our house a couple of hours after dinner because by then my tummy was more than ready for an ice cream treat. These were the days before air conditioning was popular and you could easily hear the ringing bells as he slowly approached your house. Since I was using my allowance money for most of my Good Humor purchases and my allowance was only about 50 cents a week, I had to think hard about what I bought. I think the “standard” chocolate covered vanilla ice cream costs a quarter. But if I felt flush with cash, I went for the Chocolate Eclair or my favorite, Candy Center Crunch which costs 35 cents. That mass of sweet chocolate attached to the stick in the center was wonderful!
The peak years for the Good Humor trucks were in the fifties and sixties. The company stopped selling from trucks in the late seventies. Sometime in the sixties a competitor, Mr. Softee, appeared on the scene. Mr. Softee never became as popular in my town and I viewed them as a Good Humor wannabe. Besides, instead of ringing bells, their trucks played a little musical jingle over their loudspeakers and you know how Cranky Ken feels about that!
Do you have any Good Humor memories? What was your favorite summer time ice cream treat?