I lost my grandfather on Saturday.
He was an ice cream man for 57 years.He drove a many different trucks over the years, a truck he built himself, The Wabbit Wagon, and he drove for Good Humor. I spent most of my life with him driving the Mister Softee truck. And after a driver on a cell phone totaled his Mister Softee truck, leaving him injured. He had to take a break, but he wanted to get back to work, to see his friends, and talk to new people. His best friend Don and his wife Tammy gave him a job driving one of their Miss Twist ice cream trucks. Most of my memories and I’m sure a good many memories of other in the neighborhood are of the “The Entertainer” playing to signal that he was coming. His Miss Twist truck played “Rain Drops,” it’s distinctive from all the other trucks in the neighborhood. but still we all remember “The Entertainer” the best. So yesterday when we took his last ride, his best friends Don and Tammy were there in the truck to play his song “The Entertainer” for his final ride.
Some of my best memories are going with him to pick up supplies. We went to A&A candy, which I remember for the towering stacks of candy, and the walls covered with shelves of candy and cards. It reminds me of his garage a bit, he liked to save things. His garage was an adventure of it’s own. So many things inside that were reminiscent of another time, so many stories waiting to be told. I remember his RC cars, and the RC Snoopy on a skateboard. One of my first memories of my cousin is, knowing he was coming and watching Pappy’s truck back in and seeing him in the window of the truck. I remember the sound of his truck pulling in at night coming home. I remember so many times him standing behind the truck with the doors open doing work on the systems contained there. He was very good at making most of the repairs himself, if he couldn’t figure it out he’d call his best friend and they would trouble shoot the problem together. I loved Tutti Frutti the best. That’s where he bought popsicles and novelties, there’s where he talked to Ernie. The popsicles and novelty ice creams were always my favorite, especially those frozen snow cones, and candy. I remember when Tutti Frutti closed and we started going to Ice Cream Depot still the same people, Ernie was still be hind the desk with the ice cream signs covering the wall. Koldkiss warehouse was another excellent stop with cavernous building and big sled carts. I was fortunate and even got to take Teemie (my daughter) along with us to Ice Cream Depot and Koldkiss warehouse.
He loved to sit outside on his swings. He would play with Teemie while sitting on those swings. His health had been declining for years and he couldn’t walk well but he’d still kick or catch the ball with her. She spent a lot of time playing with him, he’d start to nap in his chair and she’d play by his feet and wake him back up to talk again. He never complained, he loved to talk, and he loved to talk to her.
I bought a house almost 2 years ago, and he had been driving the Miss Twist truck for a few years by then. He was still driving his old route though. I was fortunate enough to move directly onto his route, so Teemie would hear the truck coming and stand in the doorway excited to go see Pappy and get some ice cream. He’d always stop. I would get to talk to him for a bit too. We’d just talk about his day or plans for the week, check in and talk about Nana too.
He may have been my grandfather but he was the best dad I ever had.