Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mr. Whippy

When I was a young child, each summer my Dad, Mom, sister, and me would get in the car for our annual summer vacation to the Virginia Beach area. This meant a long drive over the mountains in the days before interstate highways were common. We didn't actually stay at the beach, but would go there a few times while staying with relatives who lived in nearby Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk is known for being our largest naval base.

Mom and Dad had lived in Norfolk when he served in the U.S. Navy. Mom's oldest sister had married a naval officer and had three children, so they had made that area their home. I always enjoyed my three older cousins who I looked up to as a child (and still admire them today).

Since I grew up in rural West Virginia, I never saw an ice cream truck as a child. However, cartoons and TV shows sometimes referenced this magical vehicle that would suddenly appear in urban neighborhoods, dispensing cold, delicious ice cream. I can remember how excited I was when we would visit our cousins in Norfolk and hear the ice cream truck coming, playing music from a loudspeaker. Thus, I always associate ice cream trucks with this childhood memory.

To my surprise, there is an ice cream truck that occasionally visits my secluded village on Dominica. It is not a fancy truck, but rather an old beat up one with fading colors. The name that is painted on it is “Mr. Whippy.” The loudspeaker on this truck only plays one song—over and over again. Of all possible musical choices, the song this Dominican truck plays is a clip of the U.S. Navy theme song (“Anchors Aweigh”). It made me wonder if it had a previous life working the streets of Norfolk.

There isn't an extensive menu—the day I checked it out he just had soft serve vanilla ice cream served in cones. Some of my students were already in line when I arrived on the scene during this hot late afternoon. As I neared the front of the line, one of my littlest kindergarten students had the large top of his cone slide off and land on the sidewalk. He was a bit dumbfounded as to what had just happened to his special treat.

I asked “Mr. Whippy” if he could give my student a new top for his cone, and just give me a short cone. To his credit, he not only put a top on the student's cone (and a big smile back on his little face), but still gave me a healthy portion as well. It was my first ice cream since arriving here, and although it was just a “plain jane” vanilla soft serve cone, it tasted great.

In the meantime, the big blob of ice cream that had landed on the hillside sidewalk started sliding its way down the hill, looking a bit like one of those animated “scrubbing bubbles” from the TV commercials, except this was leaving a flat trail of ice cream behind. I'm sure the ants enjoyed it!

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