The Baloney Man
Last week, the Boston Globe had an article on an ordinance just approved by the Boston City Council limiting the times when ice cream trucks can play music over their loudspeakers.
The new rule: when the wheels on the truck go round and round, the jingle can be playing. But once the ice cream truck is stopped and open for business, the surround sound's got to be silenced.
While it does seem somewhat petty and carping to complain about listening to "The Entertainer" for a few minutes while the neighborhood kiddies who've heeded the clarion call stand their trying to figure out what treat to buy - that ice cream Tweetie Bird with the blue gumball eyes? the red-white-and-blue rocket-sicle? - ice cream truck "music" played incessantly can bore a hole in your brain.
My niece Molly's in a summer basketball league that plays outside, and once the ice cream guy shows up, you can't hear yourself think.
While there are no ice cream vendors roaming the streets of my neighborhood, there is a stationary one kitty-corner across the Public Garden from where I live. But I don't think I've ever heard it play music.
Ah, the ice cream man!
When I was a kid - in the days before anyone had re-heard of Scott Joplin and "The Entertainer" - the ice cream truck played "Three Blind Mice." And he made plenty of stops on our street,which - if I've got the arithmetic correct, had about 50 kids living on it during its peak Baby Boom years.
Not that they made much money off of the Rogers kids.
It's not as if my parents were anti-ice cream.
We always had half-gallons in the freezer, and in the summer my mother bought those multi-colored, tasteless styrofoam-ish waffle cones and we rolled our own. (Forget waffle cones: I'm a sugar cone girl all the way.) My mother also made fake popsicles out of lemonade and grape juice.
Plus there was never any problem taking your nickel and going to Sol's Maincrest Pharmacy and buying a real Popsicle brand Popsicle which, if you were with a nickel-less sib or friend, you'd go sharesies by cracking it in two on the side of the soda fountain counter. (Those were the day of double-wide Popsicles.0
And when we took rides - which we did a lot - we always stopped for ice cream at Dairy Delight, the Cherry Bowl, or Verna's.
And sometimes on a night's stroll, my father took the troop up to Friendly's for a cone.
But the ice cream truck?
Almost never - maybe once a summer.
Which didn't stop us from lusting after something off the truck, that's for sure.
On one memorable occasion, my brother Rick - who must have been 3 or 4 at the time - started badgering my father for money for the ice cream truck.
"That's a bunch of baloney," my father told him.
Well, Rick headed for the hills - the wooded hill next to our house - and as the ice cream truck pulled up to our corner, Rick hollered to him, "You're nothing but the baloney man."
Well, baloney man it was from there on out, driving each night around our block, "Three Blind Mice" announcing his arrival.
"The baloney man's here," one of us would say, then we'd head out to the backyard, out of earshot of the music and the screeching kids whose parents didn't think it was baloney at all.
The next morning, we'd get our freebie substitute.
My father's cousin Ellen was married to the owner of Blanchard's Dairy, and Phil Blanchard, along with my father's cousins Matt and Ned, were occasionally our milk men. Even when it was a non-family member milk man, the milk man would always let us hop into the back of the truck and help ourselves to big chunks of ice. That the ice chunks were covered with black film from the diesel fuel just added to the taste and the allure.
Who needed the baloney man, when you could suck on a big rock of diesel covered ice that glittered like a diamond once you'd rubbed - or licked - the diesel off? (Don't knock it unless you've tried it!)