I have no idea what his name was, where he was from or where he is now, but the "Good Humor Man" is probably one of my favorite childhood memories. I had the privilege of spending my summers on Long Beach Island (that would be the Jersey Shore) and I don't remember a year without the familiar sound of the bell and the voice.
The shore would be littered with brightly colored umbrellas and hard working folks from the tri-state area and beyond who were looking for a little break from monotony of their everyday. The ice cream men would come throughout the day and ring their bells from the top of the street. Most of them carried a bell that was made up of many bells and they had a more annoying chattering sound when shaken. Some of them would holler at the sandy folks and others would simply expect their bells to do the work for them. Not him.
He was much older, and weathered. The white hair that he had made a ring around his head leaving the top at the mercy of the sun. I don't remember him having any facial hair, maybe a mustache. Never clean shaven. He wore a white ribbed tank top and cut off blue jean shorts. His socks would pull up to mid shin and his loafers kept his feet safe from the sun warmed sand. He carried a cigar in one hand and the bell in the other. You could hear him walking from the road. He carried one bell. Similar to the kind in a hand bell choir, but one that worked much harder...or was harder worked rather. As he found his footing in the sand the bell would ring in time with his steps. We all knew it was him. You could heads look up and toward the street, checking, was this the guy? Then he'd begin ringing it....ring a ding a ding a ding a...then the mantra, "Good Humor ice cream! Cold soda yogurt, froze fruit, candy and bubblegum! Good Humor! Over eighty different kinds of ice cream!" Then there would be a ringing interlude, if you will, and then, "COME AND GET IT!" Boy would we. We'd all grab our dollars with our sea wet hands and scramble to get in line for what seemed to be the best ice cream ever!
As you approached the truck you could hear him talking with all of the kids that had rallied around to choose their memory. Mine? A snowcone. Almost every time. It seemed to last the longest. He'd say things like, "And for you sweetie?" He had a heavy accent, one that was so wonderful to me. It was rough and gentle. Spending my school months in GA made me enjoy listening to accents that didn't start with "y'all." He was kind...he was the Good Humor man.
Our school year just finished and for the end of the year "party" we decided to have an ice cream man come to the church where we meet (my kids are homeschooled, it was the last day of Classical Conversations or homeschooling group that we meet with once a week). We didn't tell the kids and they went nuts! Imagine getting to "order" what you want from the ice cream man. This man looked nothing like my "man" but he was good...and we all recounted our ice cream truck memories. This made me think of another call to "COME AND GET IT!" that is found in Isaiah 55
Everytime I hear this verse I think of those scattering and scampering up to that truck. Buzzing with excitement. We waited on him. We recognized his voice. We wanted what he was selling.
Are you thirsty? Are you broke and hungry? I want to invite you to come and drink of the water that will satisfy. Come, buy and eat...that your soul may live. Jesus is certainly more precious and valuable than any ice cream man, but this summer when you hear the music and your kids start clammoring for his wares...indulge them and then while their smiles are fresh and they are dripping with memories...share this with them. The One who calls us out of our poverty and into His splendor...satisfying us to the end of the age with His unfailing love.
COME AND GET IT!!!