Angie is coming!


When your granddad was a little boy, he lived in a house at 916 Collenbrook Avenue in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. He went to Aronomink School, just a few blocks away from his house. He went to Kindergarten at Aronomink, and grades one through six.

In the wintertime, he wore corduroy knickers and long argyle stockings that met his knickers just below his knees. I guess there are not many people who wear knickers today. I liked them, especially when they were brand new. When the "cords" of corduroy material were new, they made a special noise when you walked. Have you seen corduroy? The next time you see some, try rubbing two pieces together to make the noise I heard walking to school as a little boy.

Summers were fun for children in Drexel Hill. We went swimming almost every day in a big swimming pool a mile, maybe two, from our house on Collenbrook Avenue. We could ride our bikes to the pool and back, but the rule was we had to walk our bikes when crossing Drexel Avenue because it was a busy street.

In our back yard there was a big green swing set that your great-granddad MacLaren built of wood. Green was his favorite color. Behind that, there was a big Victory garden. One summer my Uncle Ice (my mother's twin brother) had a short leave (probably a 24 hour pass) from his Army duty, so he came to our house in Drexel Hill instead of going all the way to his home in Rhode Island. During his short visit, he planted 100 tomato plants!

Behind the Victory garden there was a field with knee-high grass. Grown-ups burned the field in the fall. I liked the smell of the burning grass and enjoyed helping the grown-ups control the fire. At the end of the day we all smelled of smoke.

Behind the field of tall grass was a woods where we spent lots of time playing. In the woods there was a stream we played in, and sometimes damned up, to make a big wading pool.

In the summer, after dinner, we played outside, usually in front of our houses, on the street. The only car traffic was people who lived on Collenbrook. We were allowed to play outside "until the streetlights came on." All the children knew when it was bedtime. There was no television in those days, and there were no freezers. Most people still called their refrigerators "ice boxes." Our "ice box" had a small section that would freeze two trays of ice cubes, but was not large enough to keep ice cream.

Just before the streetlights came on, we would hear the tinkling of bells that meant "Angie is coming!" Angie was the ice cream man. He drove a big yellow truck and stopped about every block or so to sell ice cream cones to the children and their parents. I remember the words "Angie is coming!" painted in outlined gold leaf above the truck's windshield. I also remember that "Angie" was Angelo Mormille and his truck was a Model AA Ford. The "Double A" Ford truck had a custom-built body that was nicely finished. "Angie" could stand up anywhere in the truck. He sold ice cream cones from a window with a counter on the curb-side of the truck.

Recently at a car show, I saw an old Ford truck that looked a lot like Angie's. It was painted red, not yellow. Its owner said it was a "popcorn" truck. Well, maybe it is, but I often wonder if Angie's yellow ice cream truck is still around. I hope so.

(Grant MacLaren)


The above was created in 2005. Now it's 2015 and I just spotted a facebook message that must have come from a reply to a query from me circa October, 2010: