Saturday, April 4, 2009

Morris our ice cream man

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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Peter said...

The other day I had a craving for something sweet. What I wanted wasn’t quite ice cream, not quite ices… but something in between. The something I was thinking of was from my childhood. I think it was called a “Wonder Bar”. A cylindrical frozen mix on a stick, of strawberry and banana flavored deliciousness that was somewhere between the consistency of ice cream and ices, encrusted in a thick hard shell of chocolate. You could only get one from Morris, The Ice Cream Man. I thought I would Google “Wonder Bar” and see what I got. Instead, I decided to Google “Morris, The Ice Cream Man”. I didn’t find a Wonder Bar, but I did find your blog, a big smile and great memories.

From Morris’ size and elegance, to the whiteness of his uniform, to the sound of the truck’s bells, and of course, his never ending kindness… Your description was perfect! It’s a beautifully written tribute to someone that truly deserved it. Thanks so much for posting it.

I look forward to going through the entire site and reading all the stories and details. I did a quick scan of some posts from the past year and found several gems, including:

Your kindergarten photo in Mrs. Steinig’s class. I was in her class two years before you. I was glad to see that you carried on the tradition of the clip-on bow tie. I wore them too. Few understood the integrity and fashion sense one needed to carry those off well!

In that same post, there was a reply comment, mentioning “Hippo Hauptman”. It made me laugh out loud. To understand that name, is to understand true childhood terror. On the last day of school we’d hang around to see who had her as a teacher the following year. That information killed the summer for so many.

…and the aroma of horseradish in the park next to the old “Golds” factory” on Avenue F and McDonald Avenue.

PS- I grew up on East 3rd, between Avenue F and Ditmas Avenue.

Again… Many thanks.
I’m sure I’ll have comments to add in the future.

Be well.

Anonymous said...

Learning to write in Memoir, I was prompted to write of summers past. I too immediately thought of Morris. He was my 1st choice in ice cream men too. Thanks for reminding me of some of his attributes. I remember him as kind and tall. I don't recall much about the truck, but I too recalled his distinct bells, jingle bells. God Bless