Saturday, August 1, 2020

Joe’s Ice Cream

7/26/20 Joe's Ice Cream truck, Maple Leaf neighborhood

The summer before I started my freshman year at the University of Washington, I needed an income quickly. Becoming a Joe’s Ice Cream truck driver seemed like a good (maybe only) idea at the time. My then-boyfriend had to teach me how to drive a stick so that I could operate the little vehicle. It was hardly a “truck”; its engine was more like a golf cart, and I was told I could not exceed 40 m.p.h.

A large part of the training involved keeping the ice cream bars and popsicles from melting. The trucks had no refrigeration – only an ice box (literally) filled with dry ice and some blankets for insulation. One important part of the training was strangely omitted, and being 18 years old, I didn’t think to ask.

I lasted in that job exactly one day, half of which was spent looking for a restroom.

All of those fond memories came rushing back as I heard the music of a Joe’s truck down the block (“Bicycle Built for Two” is the song – same as it was in 1977). Grabbing my sketchbook, I went out on our upstairs deck. The young girl across the street and her masked mom approached the truck, which had stopped in front of our house. Wearing a face shield, the driver stepped out and away from the vehicle so that his customer could “read” the pictorial menu on the door. When she made her selection, he went to the back of the truck, placed her treat on a shelf, and stepped away again so that they could approach safely. I was impressed by the contactless transaction.

I hope that little girl won’t remember much about the pandemic. But I hope she will remember that little taste of summer.


  1. I am smiling picturing you getting out of the "truck" and selling ice that would have been sketch-worthy. lol Glad you got to sketch this version of the truck. It helps that the music actually lets you know they are nearby. I know we have a truck that comes into our development, but luckily I am on the other side of the building and really don't hear it.

    1. The music is kind of loud, too. Last night we were watching a movie and had to shut the window because Joe was so loud! ;-)

  2. You alluded to working one day in a Joe's truck when you posted this sketch on Instagram and my ears pricked up. I knew there would be a good story. So it was the lack of restroom that was the killer for you? I can't believe you only had an ice box to keep the product frozen!

    1. I was so curious to see if the truck had been upgraded since the '70s! Somehow, I kind of doubt it. ;-) The story continues in a future post. How's that for a cliffhanger? ;-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...