Today I heard a strange sound coming from the street. It kind of sounded like a cow bell, but that did not make any sense. When I looked outside, I saw this white van slowly coming down the street and it was definitely making a clanging noise. I was told that this was the ice cream truck. I had no idea that there were Dutch ice cream trucks, but why not? Not surprisingly, this is a truck serving real ice cream in a cone or a cup. But the most distinctive thing about this truck was its lack of music, just this funny clanging noise.

In my former American neighborhood, the ice cream truck played “Camptown Races” (doo dah, doo dah). Every single day we could hear that song and NO other song selling ice cream. I used to wonder why they could not have some other songs on a loop, but no, we only heard that oldie but goodie. Now, after hearing the clanging, I miss “Camptown Races”.

This ice cream truck took me back many years to my childhood in two countries. In England, there was a large van, it looked like a Bookmobile, and it was a grocery store on wheels. It came right pass my grandmother’s house. We would step into this “store” and silently look at all the goodies .There were vegetables and fruit, canned goods and lots of bread. I was so impressed at how everything was placed on the special shelves, so that nothing would fall off. My grandmother lived in a small town, and it was almost a daily trip to the local shops, but here was this van coming right to our doorstep. I just remember my grandmother clutching her coin purse and getting one or two items, as she was also going to be making the trek to town.

Then we moved to California, there was also a unique van with food. This was a van that sold two things: bread and donuts. After school, this van came through our neighborhood and kids would go crazy for the donuts. I cannot remember the prices, but I am guessing it was ten cents per donut. Sometimes there were some moms out there too, but the appeal of this van was purely for the children. Just imagine a truck full of donuts coming by your house, after school. I can still remember the smell of sugar as we waited in line.

Of course, we also had the ice cream truck come through each day. It was so much fun to look on the side of the van at all of the colorful pictures, as if we were really thinking about getting something different that day. We never did. We always got our favorite and rarely did we change our order. The sound of the ice cream truck was the sound of summer. It made summer official and it was reason to celebrate. On a hot day, to sit on the sidewalk, with a popsicle in your sticky little hand, desperately licking the sweetness before it dripped away…that was when life was supposedly simple. If it was not, we sure wished it was as simple as having an ice cream.

So whether you have an annoying song, a fabulous song or just a clang…hopefully there is an ice cream truck in your part of the world.

Recommended viewing: a fabulous new British mystery series called THE BLATCHEY CIRCLE. I absolutely loved this intelligent and thrilling series and cannot wait to see more.

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  • Nathalie in NL  On May 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Jane, I’m in the Netherlands and we do have an ice cream van playing music here! I can’t remember the song, but I will have a listen. Growing up in the UK I mainly remember them playing Greensleeves or the Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

  • janeduttonutrecht  On May 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    hi Nathalie. thanks for this info. I wonder if it is an old dutch song that they use or something current. this is good to know that some vans have music.
    and yes, Teddy Bears Picnic would be perfect for this.

  • Jean Langley  On May 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Last summer a bunch of us were finishing an 8 mile hike on a warm summer day. We were nearing the end of the hike when we heard music. At first I thought it was someone’s cell phone. I don’t remember the tune, but the music was from an ice cream truck. When we came out of the woods, we saw the truck coming out of a side street. One of us ran out into the road and flagged the truck down. I don’t think there was ever a bunch of adults so happy to see an ice cream truck!
    (Moral of the story – always have a little cash on you even when hiking in the woods. You never know when an ice cream may appear!)

  • Terri D'Orsaneo  On May 8, 2013 at 1:00 am

    We are also watching the Blatchey Circle, and love it! So good!!

    We have an ice cream truck that goes through the neighborhood. It plays music, but not a tune you would recognize. I just ignore it, but the kids love it. Nice that you have one there, to make the memories flow! Enjoy the rest of your week!

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