Along with camping and roller rinks, I associate summer with delivery trucks. Huh? Sure, delivery guys were there year-round; the proverbial off-color tease was to suggest a particular young and attractive mom’s kids looked “an awful lot like the milkman.”
But the delivery guys ramped up their rounds when the school year ended. Why? Because we’d be outside, playing in the sprinklers or Slip-n-Sliding, see them coming, and run into the house, shouting, “Mom! The [insert-irresistible-treat-of-choice] truck is here!”
The Helm’s Bakery truck would stop in front of our suburban SoCal house with a distinctive whistle. Then the bow-tied Helm’s Guy would stroll to the back, tip his hat, throw open the doors leading to the magical Kingdom of Baked Delights, and slide open those mystical drawers filled with cookies and pastries! I always–always–got a chocolate macaroon (two if Mom would let me).
Good Humor Bars! Believe it or not, ice-cream trucks didn’t begin with the Creation of the world (“And behold, it was good!”). Rather, exactly one hundred years ago, a Youngstown, Ohio, confectioner invented the Good Humor Bar, the first chocolate-covered ice cream bar. But how to deliver it? “I know!” said his son. “Put it on a stick!” They also created the popsicle-on-a-stick (some had two sticks for sharing!). And, yes, they invented the ice cream truck, with its endlessly-repeating nursery rhyme blasting from a roof-top horn, drawing children like Pavlov’s puppies. (“And behold it was good!”)
Books! Books? Yep. What better thing to do while munching a macaroon or aspirating a push-up pop than to treat your mind, as well? I’m pretty sure Paperback Guy was self-employed. He didn’t wear a bow tie or a snappy cap, and he drove a rocket-finned Oldsmobile instead of a van. But it had a swimming pool-sized trunk, and every inch of that trunk was crammed with paperback books! He’d buy back our used-used paperbacks and sell us new-used paperbacks for 10¢ a piece! Paperback Guy introduced me to the steampunk worlds of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, the wistful Mississippi River of Tom and Huck, the swashbuckling France of The Three Musketeers, and the frozen Yukon of Call of the Wild. While others fed my stomach, he fed my imagination!
I still love macaroons, ice cream bars (only now the gourmet type), and most of all, books! So, thank you…
Summer Treat Delivery Guys!