A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Snow Cone Story

I am hesitant to tell this story, because I look so good in it and I fear that readers will think that is my intent. It is not. However, as you read the unvarnished facts, you can make that determination for yourself. But I do come out looking really good in this story.

One hot summer afternoon, as I, my Greatest Childhood Friend Randy Bottoms, my sister Janet, and Randy’s sister Swanna were out doing whatever little kids did on hot summer afternoons, we were startled to hear the sound of musical bells ringing in the distance. We had never heard a sound like this before, so we listened in fascination as the sound of the bells grew closer and closer. Suddenly, at the end of Pine Street, a white truck turned the corner and slowly proceeded in our direction. The sound of the bells was coming from speakers on top of the truck! On the side of the truck in large blue letters were the words, “Snow Cones,” accompanied by drawings of the colorful treats. All we could do was watch the truck as it went by; we weren’t ready. We would not make that mistake again.

It took us awhile to figure out the snow cone truck’s schedule. So, we always kept an ear out for the sound of the musical bells, and as soon as we heard it we would rush into the house and get our money, then stand patiently beside the road waiting. The truck was one of those old van-type vehicles, with a window on the side where the snow cones were served. An icy treat costs ten cents; any flavor, including the enormously popular Suicide, which contained a rainbow of color and flavor. The crunchy ice tasted delicious, but the real treat was at the end, when all of the left-over syrup had collected at the bottom of the cone-shaped paper cup. One giant swig of that, and you were set for the afternoon.

Well, it happened one time that the Yates family was a little short on snow cone money. We were, after all, a family of seven. My dad had a good job at the phone company, but there were times just before payday every now and then when things were a little tight, and this happened to be one of those times. After consulting all available sources of revenue, my sister and I were only able to come up with one dime. One dime would buy you one snow cone. As we waited for the truck to come by, my sister and I tried to resolve the dilemma we faced. We could share. No, we couldn’t, because she didn’t want to eat after me and I didn’t want to eat after her. We could dip half into a bowl. No, because which one of us would have to eat out of the bowl? Maybe the guy would make two half snow cones. No, not likely. Our desperation increased as the truck made its slow, musical turn onto Pine Street. Realizing that the point of decision was here, I made the call.

“Janet,” I said, “why don’t you just get the snow cone this time and I’ll wait and get one next time.”

“That, brother,” she said, “is an excellent suggestion.” Well, those might not have been her exact words, but something pretty close.

As the snow cone truck came to a stop, I watched as Janet, my Greatest Childhood Friend Randy, and his sister Swanna lined up for their snow cones. Unable to bear the sorrow, I turned away and began to walk dejectedly back to the house. But after one step, I stopped dead in my tracks. In the dirt, something shiny caught my attention. I reached down into the dust and picked up…a dime! It was lying at my feet, miraculously! I turned back to the truck. “I’ll take a Suicide, please.”

I don’t know where the dime came from. It’s possible that Randy might have placed it there, although I never asked him about it. That’s the kind of thing he would do, though. Or maybe it was there all along. Or maybe God just thought I needed a snow cone that day.