Posted by Kathy Waller
My letter for the April A to Z Challenge is I. What else could it be but ice cream?
I wrote the following poem to the memory of W. F. “Dick” Ward, who operated an ice cream parlor on the Main Street of Fentress, Texas, and who for nearly seventy years sold great big double-dipped ice cream cones to children of all ages. For all those years, the price remained the same: one nickel. The ice cream didn’t get better, said Dick, so why should the price go up?
We loved him.
W. F. Ward, Confectioner, 1958
Out on the porch it’s August,
But it’s cool inside and dim, one bulb suspending from a cord.
A slim brunette holding a bottle of Royal Crown Cola
Smiles down from above the mirror.
In the back, where it’s dark and you’ve never been,
Sit two small, dusty tables and four delicate chairs.
Once, flappers and their beaus
Sipped sodas and flirted there
But now they’re ghosts.
Behind the marble counter stands Dick Ward,
Eighty years old to your seven, and deaf, and wiry as the chairs,
Blue eyes dancing.
“Chocolate, please,” you say.
He leans down, tilts his head.
You stand on tiptoe, breathe deep, shout.
Of course, it’s just a game, because
He knew before you asked.
He dives down, disappears into the marble, rises with a cone,
And holds it out.
You hand him your nickel.
As you turn to leave, Mr. Perry shuffles in.
“Bugler!” he rasps,
And as Dick reaches for the tobacco
You know that’s wrong,
Because your grandfather smokes Bull Durham,
How could anyone pass up chocolate?
“W. F. Ward, Confectioner, 1958″ first appeared in the 2008 issue of True Words Anthology, a publication of Story Circle Network.
Kathy blogs at To Write Is to Write Is to Write and at Austin Mystery Writers. Two of her short stories will appear in Austin Mystery Writers’ anthology MURDER ON WHEELS, coming soon from Wildside Press.