Jack the Ice Cream Man
During the summers we had competing ice cream men vie for our dimes. But Jack the Ice Cream man was by far the most successful, so successful that Jack Friedman ended up buying a house in Florida and retiring there.
How did he do it? Good old American know-how. He understood that in order to out-sell Good Humor and Mr. Softy, he had to create a loyal following. He bought a bigger truck and began selling more than just ice cream. He expanded into soda, hot dogs, baseball cards with gum, rubber balls, hula hoops, tops, and yo yos. He organized contests in each court in which you could win free merchandise.
He also kept a careful eye on his competition. If he caught you buying from Good Humor, he’d cut you off. One time he actually got into a brawl with the Good Humor man. That was big news for us kids.
Jack trained us well. When we heard his bell, we’d call up to our parents and ask them to throw money out the window for ice cream. We didn’t dare risk taking the elevator upstairs for for fear Jack would drive away. My mother would wrap the money in paper and throw it down from the fourth floor and I’d buy one of my favorites, either root beer Italian ice in a cup or something called a Clarabell, a banana-flavored ice cream covered in dark chocolate.
A tall, thin guy with leathery brown skin, Jack was ubiquitous in our project, visiting every court every half-hour or so during those hot summers. I hope he had a great retirement.