ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – “Turkey in the Straw” played at maximum volume through tinny loudspeakers…for many, a cherished memory from the soundtrack of summers past.
Comedian Eddie Murphy remembered, and expressed it less poetically in his seminal 1980’s stand-up routine “Delirious”.
“Ice cream! ICE CREAM! There’s something about the ice cream truck that made kids lose it,” he recalled. “No matter what you was doing you would stop and lose your (bleepin’) mind. (Kids) can hear that $%!# from ten blocks away. They don’t hear their mother calling but they hear that (bleepin’) ice cream truck.”
But thanks to modern-day economic pressures, memories may soon be all that’s left of the Ice Cream Man experience.
“A few years ago we could go up and down the streets, like here in Charlack, and you could stop on one street for like twenty minutes,” Cheryll Rosencrans, president and CEO of Happy Time Ice Cream trucks told KMOX News. “People would come from all over. But now as you’re riding down the street you may get one kid that runs out and wants to buy a 50-cent bomb pop.”
And that profit margin — or lack thereof — doesn’t work for Rosencrans, who’s trying to keep the business that her parents ran for 19 years afloat following her mother’s death last year.
For starters, gas prices that have blasted through the stratosphere like a rocket pop over the past two decades.
“Ooff! They have been a nightmare…a nightmare,” Rosencrans said. “I mean for me to run for three or four hours in the evening driving five miles an hour with all the stop signs and hills…it cost me probably forty dollars.”
Meaning she’s likely to take a loss for that evening, one reason why Happy Time has scaled back its neighborhood runs to almost nothing.
Instead, she’s counting on school parties and other special events to keep the business going…for now.
But the final nail in the coffin could be society’s move to plastic — almost everybody whips out a credit or debit card now to pay for anything and everything, which again doesn’t really work for the Ice Cream Man.
“A lot of parents just don’t have the loose change going around, you know?,” Rosencrans pointed out. “And some people in our neighborhoods are struggling to stay afloat with the unemployment or people having to take a job that pays less than, say, five years ago.”
All of this means the ice cream truck may someday be permanently parked next to those that used to deliver ice and milk to your front steps.
“It’s tough on the streets,” she said. “I mean, we love our people. They’re so sweet and they all talk to us and visit. But you can’t really make a lot of money that way.”