Don’t take Mr. Softee away

Published 10:07 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

I was shocked to read the story in Tuesday’s paper about the ice cream man getting robbed by two assailants Friday. I’m in my 30s and, not to start sounding like an old guy, but I grew up in a time when the ice cream man was an institution, a blessing upon children far and wide.

For me, my thoughts of the ice cream man take me back to hot summers as a young lad running around my neighborhood and likening my experiences with the ice cream man to a comedy sketch by Eddie Murphy. Everything literally stopped when Mr. Softee came through the neighborhood. I actually do remember screaming at the top of my lungs to my mother to throw me some money before the ice cream man left. After being pelted with change from the kitchen window and my mom shouting instructions to get her an Eskimo pie and get my brothers ice cream sandwiches, I remember darting down the street top-speed after the ice cream truck.

And there was simply no greater thrill than catching up with the ice cream man — after he clearly drove an extra mile or two for the joy of watching little children chase his treasured vehicle — and getting a nice cold bomb pop on a 90 degree day. The first taste of a sugary, cold treat on a stick made all the sprinting and change pelting worthwhile.

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These days, there are very few things for children to get excited about. There are so many dangers and pitfalls out there waiting to prey upon young people. Things like having the ice cream man come through the neighborhood can still be one of those good things in life. It is not something I would want to see ruined by crime and needless mischief. If the ice cream man can’t feel safe and welcomed when he makes his rounds, he will just stop coming. And the real victims of this kind of behavior are the children. Sometimes it’s the little things like some nice cold ice cream on a hot day that make the big picture brighter.

Let’s not let greed and crime take that little bit of joy from the kids. They deserve better.