Larry was a mere twelve years of age in the early years of the 1950’s but that didn’t mean he was immune from chores. Larry’s family operated the Riverside Resort located just north of the small town of Noel, Missouri. The resort rested alongside an unpaved dirt road that was known as the Noel to Pineville road, now identified as Highway “H.” It seemed as though there was never enough daylight to finish the work and there were always plenty of chores to be completed, one of which was cutting the ever growing grass; and that task fell to Larry. Larry found that as he pushed the mower over the grass between the Inn and that dusty road on those sweltering Ozark days his mind wandered to places where trains rolled on steel tracks, old brass school bells sounded their tones and the cool waters of Elk River flowed under the wobbly suspension bridge. But, more so than anywhere else Larry’s youthful imagination took him to a place where, and for as far as the eye of a twelve year old boy could see, there were mountains and mountains of ice cream.
On one very hot August day as Larry guided that mower around the guest cabins and alongside that road of dirt a seemingly ordinary thing turned into something fantastic, and something that he would never forget. A truck with a large box-bed came to rest on the road next to the yard, and the very grass, that Larry was mowing.
Larry, being a boy of curious nature, put the mower aside and walked to the truck. He could see that the driver was concerned over something and Larry asked, “Hey mister, do you need directions or something?” The driver looked to find the source of the question and as his eyes fell upon the young boy he replied, “no, my tire is flat and I don’t have any way of fixing it.”
As the two talked about the truck and the flat tire the sound of a car coming down the road was overheard. Larry and the stranded driver looked in the direction of the noise and saw a car followed by a cloud of dust coming in their direction. The driver began to walk into the road and as he moved he looked back at Larry and said, “Wait there a minute kid.”
The driver waved his arms and the car came to a stop only a few feet from the truck driver. Larry heeded the man’s directions and stood by as the two men talked while a cloud of dust rolled over the car and the two men. Larry overheard the truck driver ask if the gentleman would be kind enough to call his office from town and advise the person he spoke to that he was stranded. The driver of the car must have agreed to the request as after being given a card he drove off followed by that ever present dust cloud.
The truck driver walked back to the truck, and Larry, and asked, “Kid, what’s your name?” “Larry,” the boy replied. “Well Larry, do you like ice cream?” Of all the questions the man could have asked that seemed to be one of the strangest. “Sure, everyone likes ice cream,” Larry said.
“Well this is your lucky day,” the man continued. “This truck is full of cold ice cream, but it won’t stay cold for long. The truck is insulated but it doesn’t have a refrigeration unit so that ice cream will soon start to melt. Let me open the back of the truck and I’ll let you eat your fill of ice cream bars.” For a moment Larry thought that he may have possibly succumbed to the heat, passed out and this whole incident was no more than a dream but he followed the driver to the rear of the truck.
The man smiled as he slid open the rear door and there before Larry’s eyes sat boxes upon boxes of beautiful frozen ice cream bars. The man said something to Larry but he didn’t hear the meaning of the words as he was fixated on those boxes of treats. “What kind of ice cream bars do you want,” the man asked. “I like all kinds,” Larry replied. The man climbed into the truck and filled both hands and arms with ice cream bars and placed them near the rear of the truck’s bed. The man helped Larry onto the bed of the truck and placed all those delicious treats next to him.
Larry sat on the bed of the truck with his legs dangling off the edge. As he opened the yet unknown flavored wrappers of sweet, frozen cream and sugar he kicked off his old untied tennis shoes, first one then the other. He wasn’t wearing socks so there was nothing else between his bare feet and the warm summer air.
Larry sat and ate those chocolate covered ice cream bars with sticks to hold while others came wrapped in funnel shaped cones. That afternoon seemed to be cooler than the ones that had come before it and it passed more comfortably as Larry ate, and ate and ate. He ate ice cream for what seemed liked hours.
Eventually a truck came rumbling down the road and stopped behind the disabled ice cream truck. The driver spoke with the two men and after tools and a tire were removed the three began to replace the flattened tire. Larry jumped down from his resting place, grabbed his shoes and watched the activity from a few feet away, all the while continuing to enjoy the ice cream.
Once the tire was repaired the men who brought the tire and tools drove away and the ice cream truck’s driver walked to the rear of his truck. Carrying another arm full of ice cream delights he placed the bundle on the ground in front of Larry and said, “Here you go, just in case you haven’t yet had your fill; Goodbye kid.” Larry wiped the ice cream residue from his face and mouth and said, “bye mister, and thanks a lot.”
Larry waved with his free hand as the truck drove away leaving behind only the road’s dust, the ice cream bar’s wooden sticks and a large amount of empty paper wrappers scattered about as the only evidence that the incident was anything more than just a dream.
Thanks to Larry.