The Writers Voice
It was summertime, 1946. After having spent some years in the 'Big War' and loungin' around over the Holidays of '45, I was ready... no, compelled... to get my first post-war employment. I answered an ad for an "ice cream salesman." That's all the damn ad said so how in the world was a 22 year old punk to know what that was? An interview was arranged and I soon got the answer when approaching their main offices. I saw a couple of hundred half-bicycles and half ice box contraptions parked on their front lawn.
I was familiar with ice cream trucks, cruising slowly down the street, attracting all sorts of children and thought that my 'selling' was to be centered around that scenario. Nope! I gave those 'hell-buggies' a jaundiced look as I passed them on my way for my interview.
Of course, I got the job. It really didn't take much intelligence for them to figure out that this young and healthy person was an excellent candidate for wheeling their buggies up and down a particular route in Chicago.
Now, to those of you who have never pedaled a beast like the one I was assigned to, I kid you not, it took all of my strength and youthfulness just to get the damn thing a'rollin'! (And this was just to wheel it up to their master freezer where we all loaded up for the day's venture... oops: adventure!)
We were all shown how to put the ice cream bars in one section of the box and where to store the Popsicles, ice cream cups, etc. We were also warned that the 'hot ice' which kept everything cold was not to be touched with our bare hands since severe burns would be the result of that happening.
Well, I was lucky in that my 'route' was flat. Some sections of Chicago were hilly and I doubted whether or not my contemporaries had the ability to ride up those hills on the seat of their 'bikes.' I learned later that my fellow workers had to push their rigs when the terrain had its ups 'n downs!
Yeah, I had a little set of bells I rang which, in turn, brought the kiddies flocking to me. Hell, it was warm, I was young and enthusiastic, and my 'work' ended up being nothing more than asking them what they wanted, reaching into my box, and taking their money.
One day, though, this beautiful little four or five year old girl, with the cutest blond locks I had ever seen, came up to me with a dollar bill in her hand. She asked me for an orange Popsicle and I asked her what her name was. She replied, "Roxannie." I was so impressed with her looks and sweet voice that I grabbed a piece of hot ice from my box instead of her Popsicle. I let out a God-awful "Yipe" that startled her. She was almost crying as I tried to console her, while handing her two Popsicles, one orange and one grape. She muttered a "Thank you" and ran off without letting me take the dollar bill which was still in her hand.
I was hopping up and down, with my handkerchief wrapped around my injured hand and my only thought was to get back to 'headquarters,' turn in my receipts, and go home. It wasn't easy for me to lug that hunk-o-steel back to the garage since I only had one good hand to steer it with. When I finally made it back, my bosses put some sort of salve on my hand, bandaged me up, and that was that for the day!
Roxannie, I hope you're reading this account of mine. You're approaching retirement just about now. And, when you receive your first pension check, remember you still owe me 10 cents!
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