Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Ice Cream Man of Kensington


His fingers, yes there was something so beautiful about his fingers.
They were the longest and most gentle fingers you have ever seen.

And he stood like a giant too.
He had legs that just seemed to go on forever, and arms that could reach as far as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Oh, his uniform, let me tell you about his uniform. It was always the brightest of white you know, and clean as a whistle. He also wore a little white hat too, it looked something like a ship captains hat.

And with long nicotine stained fingers as cold as ice and as yellow as corn, Morris would gently pick the change out of the palm of your hand and then lean down and give you your ice cream bar.

Yeah, just like the giant in “Gulliver’s Travels”, that was Morris.

I think he also wore one of those change machines on his belt too, it was silver and had these different cylinders for pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes.

You see,
Morris was our ice cream man.
Not anyone else’s ice cream man.
No, just ours alone.

The bells on his truck had a very distinctive ring too. They jingled like those on Santa’s sleigh. Full of music, full of life. Nothing at all like the cheap sound of the Good Humor man. No, Morris’s bells were probably made of sterling silver instead of tin.

And what made Morris special to us was his kindness. Pure gentle kindness from a man who probably would have scared the living daylights out of anyone if he wasn’t dressed in an ice cream
man’s uniform.

You see Morris had to stand about six feet five, was as skinny as a flagpole and chain-smoked to no end. From what I remember too, he smoked the same brand as my dad. That distinctive “Camel” could always be seen sticking out of his shirt pocket.

And Morris also died young, just like my dad. Too many “Camels” bought him a headstone way before his time, and only left us with a nasty Good Humor man who never liked us.

Yeah, I could just see him like it was yesterday, his truck parked on Avenue C between East 3rd and East 4th, long tall and lean standing there like a gentle giant. Waiting for us hand him our dimes and quarters after another day at PS 179.

And if you didn’t have enough money, Morris would let you slide and pay him another day. Or he would even break an ice pop in two pieces, if you only had a nickel. Just the gentle kindness of a man who drove an ice cream truck and knew all our names.

Yes, The ice cream man of Kensington.
Not anyone else’s ice cream man.
No, just ours alone.

Ron Lopez
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1 comment:

Cousin Pete said...

Morris - what a nice guy....I specifically remember how, when you only had a nickel, he'd take a 10 cent two-stick ice pop (still in the wrapper) and smack it against his truck's bumper so he could sell you half! He was a gem....not like the jerk in the Good Humor truck whose first words to us kids was "Let me see your money" thinking we were all poor street urchins...it got so bad that we'd wave him down, show him our money and then tell him we didn't want any of HIS ice cream - we'd wait for Morris. And we never ate from the Bungalow Bar guy even though he had a cool truck with a house roof on the top ("Bungalow Bar, tastes like tar, the more you eat it the sicker you are"). I will admit, though to eating Mr. Softee many times - soft serve was just something Morris didn't have.