Since he’s been ill, my husband likes to go sit on the back porch and soak up some healing rays for as long as he can take the heat. This has been possible lately because we’ve been having a record cool June here in the Phoenix area - 15 days in a row, thus far, under 100 degrees. Believe me, this is unheard of around here for June. In fact, just this morning an article in the newspaper said that this is the coolest June in Phoenix since 1913. It’s been wonderful, but the forecasters say it’s coming to an end, and the temperatures should return to the seasonal norms by the middle of next week. That means daytime highs of around 105. And lucky if that’s as high as it goes.
Of course, in order to make up for our outrageously cool June, Mother Nature gave us an unusually hot May, with 17 days OVER 100 degrees. Don would sit on the porch until his face began to look like a tomato, then come inside and eat three or four Popsicles, which would fortify him enough to go back outside for another half-hour or so. The sight of him slurping down those Popsicles took me back to my 1950s era Oklahoma little-girlhood, chasing down the street with a hundred other little kids, dressed in my Bermuda shorts and flip-flops (we called them ‘thongs’, then), after the ice cream man and his white truck that played “Popeye the Sailor Man” or “Casey Would Waltz With the Strawberry Blond”.
It was a hallowed ritual of summer, the ice cream man (we never said ‘good humor man’). He drove up our suburban street in Tulsa every single day from the end of May until the beginning of September. We Baby Boomers were really babies, then, so every street was lousy with kids. If he sold as many Popsicles as I think he did, even at 5 cents a pop, the ice cream man must have been able to winter in Tahiti every year.
Of course, he didn’t only sell Popsicles. I was particularly fond of Eskimo Pies, myself. The only problem with Eskimo Pies was that in the hot Oklahoma summer, you had to eat them fast before the chocolate shell melted and ran down your arm, quickly followed by the vanilla ice cream. I liked Fudgesicles, too, and Orange Push-ups. I only bought Popsicles when he had blue or green ones, which he didn’t, often. My very favorite ice cream treat was a Nutty Buddy. You can still buy a Nutty Buddy these days, but it no longer resembles the cone the ice cream man sold in the 1950s. In those days, Whippersnappers, the chocolate topping encased the entire top of the cone and half-way down the side. There were so many nuts embedded in the topping that it was hard to see that it WAS chocolate. I didn’t buy a Nutty Buddy too often, since it cost 15 cents, and finally went all the way up to a quarter by the early 60s.
I don’t know what could be better than sitting on the curb with your pals and your annoying little sister, all dirty and sweaty with your hair sticking up every which way, eating a frozen treat that’s dripping all over your bare feet.