Thursday, July 23, 2009

FDP THREAD : How many of you are old enough to have grown up with Good Humor and other roaming food companies?

When I was about 3-4, we were living on Grand Street in Lowell. I can remember a bakery guy coming like every other day, but the desert guy from another bakery came every day! I imagine great cream puff fights, running pie fights down to the Lincoln school!

I can remember Tom, the insurance guy, coming into our kitchen looking like the immortal salesman plodding house to house, cadging dimes out of the housewives for cheap insurance
policies redeemable who knows when.

It was a cold water flat, heated by coal, the entire building bleeding off small gallons to use for dishes. Baths were
Saturday night heated on the stove water, reused until the dog got tossed in about midnight.

We had an ice-box. Not bad in the winter, when the cold Montreal air aided in keeping our eggs fresh. 
Both kinds.
In the summer, the ice man would come down the street glancing up at the front windows of the triple
deckers, looking for the signs the wives, bored in the warmth of their sun dresses, had marked down 5, or 10, meaning pounds. He'd chip off an appropriate chunk and carry it up the long dark stairways, to the third floor. Then he'd repeat the exercise for the second floor.

We knew he spent a little more time with Mrs. Monty. The young women on the third floor back apartment. That's when we made our move; boosting someone brave like my brother John, up into the chill darkness of the truck bed. He'd scoop up the smaller chips rapidly melting into uselessness, and toss them down to the littlest of the street kids. Lowell
Popsycles. (To go with the hot tar we would chew as gum. Until we learned the secret pleasures of larceny).

One day Mrs. Monty must have had a heat headache because the ice man came down the stairs early and caught John in the forehead with the heavy leather carry strap. At the first sound of John's wail, my father dashed out of our old apartment and quickly sussed the situation and he punched and elbowed and bit and kicked the ice man until he looked like the Cherry Ice they sold on the South Common on the 4 
Th of July. 

We met in Saint John's Emergency room. John got his four stitches first. My father had his dislocated knuckle wrestled back to the same approximate place just as the Police walked in looking for the
narrowback Irishman who had wailed the tar out of some poor immigrant iceman hauling relief across the city.
The Policeman looked from the iceman to my dad and dad pointed to his first born son and the Irish Police just nodded as we gathered our few things and left.
We could hear the squealing all the way across the bridge that
separated the city from the town.

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