Ice Cream Cone, 1958

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 for nearly seventy years sold great big double-dipped ice cream cones to children of all ages. In 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

Vanilla Ice Cream Cone by Steven Depolo [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
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 there and flirted,

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.

“What?”

You stand on tiptoe, breathe deep, shout.

“Chocolate!”

Of course, it’s just a game, because

He knew before you asked.

He dives down, disappears into the marble, rises with a cone,

Huge, double-dipped,

And holds it out.

You hand him your nickel. “Thank you.”

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,

And anyway,

How could anyone pass up chocolate?

~~~~~~~~~~

The writer couldn’t find a suitable photo of a chocolate ice cream cone, so she had to make do with vanilla.

~~~~~~~~~~

“W. F. Ward, Confectioner, 1958″ first appeared in the 2008 issue of True Words Anthology, a publication of Story Circle Network. It was posted on Writing Wrangler and Warriors April 10, 2015.

~~~~~~~~~~

M. K. Waller’s stories have been published in two Austin Mystery Writers anthologies, LONE STAR LAWLESS (Wildside, 2015) and MURDER ON WHEELS (Wildside, 2017), and in DAY OF THE DARK (Wildside, 2017). She blogs at M. K. Waller–Telling the Truth, Mainly and at Austin Mystery Writers. Read her flash fiction “And Justice for All” on Mysterical-E. She lives in Austin, Texas, with two cats and one husband.

 

19 thoughts on “Ice Cream Cone, 1958

  1. Your post summons a host of memories. The music would get louder as the ice cream truck made its way toward St. Elmo Drive in Rialto, California. All the kids would dash toward the street, eager to buy an ice cream cone or popsicle. I don’t recall the cost now, but it wasn’t much in those early ’60s days. We also had a bakery truck that came by.

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    1. For two years we lived in a little city where an ice cream truck came around. Like you, I remember the dash toward the street. I got the fudgecicle, which was delicious but kind of watery when it started to melt. If there’d been a bakery truck, my father would have come out to buy donuts.

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    1. The Borden brand is still around, but the company itself isn’t. I think we have a quart of Borden’s milk in the refrigerator; the distributor uses the Borden name. Elmer’s Glue is made by a separate company, and Elsie is still around on Eagle Brand condensed milk, made by Smucker. You didn’t need to know all that, but your question sent me off on another bunny trail. Not a bunny trail–Mother’s aunt was married to a Borden who was named for the company’s founder and they lived in Lockhart. Another not bunny trail–Authur Brody, who founded the Brodart Company, which sells library supplies and services, came up with the formula for a book glue; it was milk-based, and, unfortunately, roaches like milk, but librarians don’t like roaches, so he sold the formula to Borden’s, and that’s how Elmer’s Glue began.

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  2. I will see if I can find the poem I wrote when Mr. Dick died. That was before we had computers; so it isn’t hidden there. I think I read it at his funeral. You and I have many fond memories of the “dear hearts and gentle people who lived in our home town.”

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    1. I’d like to read the poem. I wasn’t at his funeral; I hadn’t been working long enough to ask for non-sick leave time off, I guess We do have fond memories. I think that town was invented by Charles Dic+++++++++++++
      kens and for some reason set down in Texas.

      Ernest the Cat did that, twice, and this time I’m not going to fix it. I want people to know what I have to put up with.

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  3. What a great tradition he kept alive. I remember one scoop for a nickel. Doesn’t that age me? My husband and I look for maple nut wherever they do ice cream cones, that is a hard flavor to find anymore. Great poem.

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    1. Funny how we can measure time–and age–by prices, isn’t it? I remember when soft drinks were seven cents. And another two or three if you took the bottle with you. Maple nut sounds delicious. The equivalent of pecan ice cream here, I guess. The discussion of which makes me hungry.

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  4. Great!!! Great!! memories…..One thing I so remember was if you dropped it while getting on your bike to go home he would replace it for FREE! Good Old Days!

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    1. Yes! Free replacements. One time the top scoop of my strawberry ice cream fell off in the store, and Dick took the cone back and put another scoop on top. My dad said, “No, no, this is fine,” but he wasn’t letting me leave with only half an ice cream cone. As I remember, the top scoop was always as big and round as the bottom one, not just a shaving stuck on top, and you had to hold it just so or it would topple off. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  5. A *nickel*, seriously? What is it about ice cream sellers? Always the nicest people. I was adopted by an ice cream family when I was working away for the summer on a resort island. I still write the 92-year-old mother of the owner 🙂

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