Merry Ice Cream Dreams

On a glorious day earlier this week, I met a friend for a picnic lunch in the harbor park down the street from where I live. After noshing on pasta salad and fruit we decided to treat ourselves to an ice cream cone.

I ordered a scoop of Amaretto Mackinac Island Fudge in a sugar cone. If you’re familiar with Mackinac Island you know they’re famous fA restored Merry Mobile ice cream truck from the 1960sor their fudge. (If you’re not familiar with Mackinac Island check out Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown, which is set on the island—and a great read!)

The ice cream tasted good, even with the temperatures in Marquette hovering in the mid 70s. But it wasn’t nearly the food of the gods I recalled from my childhood in Memphis when the mercury in the thermometer during July and August would remain in the 90s—or higher.

I remember as a kid hearing the siren call of the tinkling bells ice cream truck music. I’d run to the back door to ask Mama for a quarter. (I seem to recall the prices ran from 15 cents to a quarter.) I’d run barefoot on the sizzling pavement, worrying that the truck would leave before I got there. It never did. I always struggled to decide if I wanted an Eskimo Pie or an Orange Push-Up Pop or a Firecracker Popsicle. My decision was often influenced by what the little redheaded girl across the street had purchased.

When I was little, the ice cream man in my neighborhood didn’t drive a typical truck. Merry Mobiles were round, canopied vehicles painted red, white and blue that rotated as they floated down the street like the circus coming to town. But nothing gold can stay. By the time my little brother came along, gone were the magical Merry Mobiles, replaced by ordinary ice cream trucks. I’m not blaming my brother, mind you. Just saying.

(A big thank-you to Kelly Jones for use of the photo. Kelly is pictured above in one of the original Merry Mobiles from the 1960s, which he has restored. You can see more photos, share and read memories on his Facebook page:

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