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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Bad Humor Man

Vintage Good  Humor Truck
Vintage Good Humor Truck (Photo credit: Adam Kuban)

           When I was a kid a tidy looking ice cream truck would troll the neighborhoods during summer with a chipper looking fellow in a clean neat white uniform behind the wheel.  When he'd come to a grouping of kids waiting by the curbside anxious for his frozen treats, he'd pull over and dispense the goodies to the children for a few coins.  He was the Good Humor Man.

             The Good Humor Man is now a page from nostalgia.   In my neighborhood we now have bigger more rickety looking trucks with tawdry decals on the side advertising their array of goodies.  Or there is an army of Mexican pushcart vendors who disperse on foot each morning throughout the neighborhoods surrounding a central ice cream dispensary.

           I miss the neatness and dependable schedule of the Good Humor Man.  He has gone the way of the milkman, the bread delivery truck, the dry-cleaning delivery service, and the Fuller Brush Man.

          But never fear, the bad humor man is here.  I occasionally come up with short humorous tweets when I get in a weird mood.   Today here's a joke that wouldn't fit in a tweet.  I think I made it up.

         A guy goes to his doctor because of an infected leg.  After the examination the doctor says, "Well, I've got some good news and I've got some bad news."
         Fearful, the man asks, "What's the bad news?"
         The doctor replies somberly, "I'm afraid there's nothing we can do to save your leg.  We're going to have to amputate it."
         "So what's the good news?" the guy asks.
         The doctor beams, "We're having a two for one sale on amputations this week."
           Hey, I'm wearing my summer shorts today.  You should be happy you're just seeing the joke in print!

           Did you have delivery services like ice cream trucks, milkmen, and dry cleaners in your neighborhood when you were growing up?   Are there any of these types of businesses that come through your neighborhood now?   Do you like slightly warped humor?


  1. We had the baker come to the door with his loaves of beautifully fresh bread (1950s) and the milkman delivering milk (not in bottles) from a horse & cart.

  2. I can't even remember the last time I saw an ice cream truck. It's been years.
    I like dry humor.

  3. There's an ice cream truck that comes through my neighbourhood every weekend. If I never hear 'turkey in the straw' again it'll be too soon. It's the only song the truck plays.

  4. I hear an ice cream truck drive by now and then but I haven't bought anything from one since I was little and they would park outside my softball games. Clever bastards.

    I'm pretty sure I like all kinds of humor, warped included.

  5. Hi, Arlee. We have an ice cream truck that occasionally comes through the neighborhood. Way overpriced treats that we don't really need.

    I actually worked for a dry cleaners about 17 years ago (oh my gosh, that long already!?!) and they had a delivery service. Don't know if any dry cleaners do that now.

  6. I grew up far out in the country so I never saw anything like your describe. The closest we came to local delivery was the 3/4 mile walk down our long lane to get the mail.

  7. Growing up in the 70s, all we had was Mr. Softee and his chiming through the neighborhood.

    These days, though, it's like you said....his truck has seen better days.

    I'm a big fan of "rim shot" jokes, too...keep them coming :)

  8. Yeah, we still have an ice cream truck come through the neighborhood. The last time I bought something from him/her (seems it's a two-person operation now) I purchased ice cream for all the kids hanging around. (Once in awhile I get a wild generous hair up my... uhm... wallet.)

    >>... Do you like slightly warped humor?

    I love it.
    Sometimes even MORE than "slightly" warped.

    LEE, when will you be home from your trip? Will you be back before the next 'BOTB' installment on July 1ST?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  9. I don't know what company runs the frozen goodies truck, but yea, one drives through my neighborhood in the summer months. I hear the annoying canned music for hours sometimes. When I was a country kid and came to the big town with my parents to visit relatives, I loved to hear that music and ran out with my quarter (can you imagine!) clutched and ready to hand over in return for ice cream. Thanks for the memory.

  10. We had ice cream trucks but it was some other brand (Tastee-Freeze?).

    The icon from my childhood was the guy at the Jersey shore (Vetnor, just south of Atlantic City) who would walk up and down the beach carrying a mini-freezer yelling:

    "Ice cream! Who else here ice cream? Who else for a fudgie-wudgie?"

    He was an older guy in the sixties and early seventies, but the last time I visited the Jersey shore (about ten years ago), I swear it was still the same guy...

  11. I'm having a disconnect in the idea of an amputation being something you can sell.

  12. I personally only had the ice-cream truck, though when I was little, my paternal grandparents still had their milk crate on the front veranda for the milkman. I used to wonder why we no longer routinely had services like home milk and ice delivery.

  13. Let's just say I'm used to slightly warped humor, as hubs is afflicted with that too.

    I still see ice cream trucks, and water delivery trucks, but few milk trucks since there's so many places to buy milk now - in the gas/store places, in Walmart, Shoppers, etc.

    Every business wants to be that one-stop shopping destination.

  14. When I was growing up in Chicago in the '60s, we had the Good Humor man, not only who came thru the neighborhood, but also sat by the beach during the summer months. We also had a guy who had a cart that he rode like a bicycle; he sold Popsicles and other quiescently frozen treats. And, we had the Tastee-Freez guy, who came thru the neighborhood after dinner during the summer. When I lived on the South Sideafter we got married, there were mostly guys selling paletas.

    I don't remember the bread man or the dry cleaning delivery guy, but I remember diaper service and, of course, the milkman. There were three dairies that served our corner of Rogers Park: Bowman, Hawthorn Melody, and Twin Oaks.

    We had a Fuller Brush man that would stop by every couple of weeks, and Mom bought some stuff from him, but not too often. It was easier to get our cleaning supplies from the grocery store.

  15. I am pretty bad as I like warped humour. We had the milkman and breadman come our way. We lived in the country and they came to us and the milkman would sell milk, chocolate milk, ice-cream-like a mini convenience store. The breadman would come and he sold all types of bread. Now we see these young guys who feel they went to hell cycling around the neighbourhood trying to sell ice-cream bars. We also have someone who comes around and will sharpen your knives and Tim the toolman tools-weird

  16. I can remember the milkman delivering when I was a kid. Now all we have that delivers is the Schwan's man.

    The ice cream trucks in our neighborhood are scary. I wouldn't buy anything off of them for fear of catching some disease. I wish they took more pride in their livelihood!

  17. Oh, yeah. Always looked forward to the ice truck coming down the street, especially during summer.

  18. I miss the milkman. It'd save me quite a few store stops with my cottage cheese addiction.

  19. Ha! I love dry and dark humor.

    We still have ice cream trucks playing music through our neighborhood. They don't wear pristine white uniforms though.

  20. Sorry for another collective reply. My internet time is so limited while I'm away from home that I'll probably be doing a lot of replies like this.

    Good to hear all of your memories about the itinerant business model that has left us for the most part. You all added some great ones.


  21. Oh yeah, we had all kinds of trucks and wagons come around when I was a kid. Ice cream, of course, and for a while, even a pizza truck. Also, a couple pulling a kids' ride of some sort. Then there were the horse-drawn wagons, selling fruits and vegetables, or offering scissors-sharpening services. We even had one that collected old rags. Now? Nuttin', honey.

  22. We had the ice cream truck. We'd hear the music and rush to get cash so we could run out and buy something. It was WAY too much pressure! I haven't heard an ice cream truck in a while, come to think of it.

  23. There's an ice cream truck that drives around my neighborhood EVERY NIGHT. We hear the jolly music from afar. I don't hear any kids rushing towards it, though.

    In the Philippines, we have ice cream sold around on a colorfully decorated push cart. Only three flavors (cheese, purple yam, and vanilla) with a choice between sugar cones and plastic cups. Your post reminded me of home.


  24. Lots of nostalgia is being forgotten now.

    I loved your joke :)

  25. So sad to think about this. We had them all - milkman delivering nice creamy milk in bottles, fresh bread delivery, fresh fruit and vegetable vans and yes, the magical music of the ice cream van. That's a hey day all right. Nothing is delivered these days, except the usual purchases if you choose to pay.

  26. Its a shame so many of these little businesses are just not viable. . . . I am just glad our tiny village has a great market and we can make our own ice cream.

    My wife only has one leg after were were well bashed about years ago and we have done many one legged jokes. Folk are always a bit twitchy when a one legged person does pirate jokes.

  27. Susan FS-- I recall a truck with a merry-go-round that would occasionally pass through. No horse drawn vehicles though--probably a city ordinance prevented it.

    Stephanie -- I hear the trucks in the adjoining neighborhoods, but they can't get into ours since it's gated.

    Sonnia -- Cheese and purple yam ice cream? Those are new flavors to me.

    Donna -- I was hoping someone would appreciate my bad joke.

    Denise -- The ice cream truck purchase was such a spontaneous purchase.

    Rob--Sorry about your wife's misfortune, but I'm glad she keeps a humorous perspective. I was afraid that I might offend someone with the joke, but when we lose our sense of humor it's like losing a body part. Aaargh!


  28. Dry humor is the only kind I "get". Please, no slapstick, or underwear jokes for me.
    Anyway, we still have ice cream trucks, but the "Good Humor Man" is kind of sketchy looking. Used to have a milk man deliver dairy products. I guess Schwann delivers all sorts of groceries, but not out quite as far as we are.

  29. My humor is beyond warped drifting into a lighter shade of black.

    We still get the occasional ice cream truck wandering through the neighborhood. No pushcart vendors as that's more of a city thing (which I see a lot of).

    I think we had milk delivery when I was a kid. Beyond that, nada.

    Father Nature's Corner


  31. Yes, Lee. Cheese and Purple Yam. I love the Cheese. Well, I like the Purple Yam, too, but I prefer it included in my "Halo-Halo" which is a famous dessert from the Philippines.


  32. I know that there is an ice cream truck that rolls through our neighborhood because I recognize the jingly music. Since I am not a kid, I have never tried to track down the truck and have not seen it. So, I have no idea what it looks like (small and neat or large and rickety) but I am NEARLY POSITIVE that it would take more than "a few coins" to buy anything there.

  33. Donna -- I always thought that Schwann specialized in deliveries to far off rural places. I never see their trucks where I am.

    G.B.-- Not only do we see frequent pushcart vendors around where we live, but there are also rather dubious looking vendors operating out of old shopping carts with their products dispensed out of large black garbage bags. They seem to make regular rounds and have established clientele. Not me yet.

    Rob-- Funny stuff.

    Sonnia -- Don't know that I'll run across any of those flavors where I live though there are some Filipino establishments that might sell it. I'll try anything that other people seem to be enjoying.

    Robin -- I'm sure they don't sell anything under a dollar these days.


  34. We had all those things. My favorite was the Helm's Bakery Truck. I also loved the chocolate milk the dairy truck would deliver.

    Occasionally, an ice cream truck comes around, but like you said, it just isn't the same as the Good Humor man.

    Your post reminded me of my own Good Humor post from a long time ago. I don't think that anybody who seems my blog now, was around back then. Repost!

  35. Pat-- When I lived in San Diego from 1959 to 1963 I think our bread man was probably from Helms. The chocolate milk in the bottles was the best. White milk would be delivered in amber colored bottles while the chocolate came in clear ones. You should repost! Nostalgia is always fun to revisit.


  36. I still remember the tune the ice cream truck played on its way down our street. No matter where we kids were, there was a mad scramble to get the nickel or the quarter--can't remember--and meet the truck.

    Nobody comes to our street these days, but a lot of that has to do with the fact we live in the mountains. They can't find us.


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