You’ll Scream for Ice Cream

Jeffrey Cohen
4 min readApr 26, 2020
Photo by Bruce Reeve

When you’re a child, kinds words from an adult provide comfort, satisfaction, and affirmation. “Great job!” on a macaroni-and-glue geography project is joyful. “How inventive!” for a book report about slugs makes the time sweating over an encyclopedia feel worthwhile. “You held him to a triple!” takes the sting out of three runners scoring when you pitch a little league game, but the batter stumbles and has to stop at third base.

I grew up in the time when latchkey kids were allowed to roam parent-free on the weekends, weekday afternoons, and pretty much until the sun went down. At which point, our phone would inevitably ring as parents played an extended version of “The Telephone Game,” tracking down their vagrant children.

My circle of friends had their external circle of friends, and so forth. We don’t have enough players for a game of kickball? Let’s walk over to my friend Robert’s house and see who’s playing there. We conducted a junior version of LinkedIn, networking amongst ourselves and making new connections to extend our play communities.

One afternoon, kickball was the desired outcome so off we went down the street and across the boulevard and around the corner to a different neighborhood, half a mile away. I don’t know the boy whose house was our destination. Let’s call him Steve. I didn’t even know the boy who was leading me and my friends — he was in a class with one of my neighbors; that was all I needed to know…Steve will play with us.

We had 10 kids and played five-on-five. The best advertisement for an athletic contest is the game itself and soon our roster swelled to seven-on-seven, then eight-on-eight. The afternoon wore on, and players began to depart, until participation shrank to seven players. The game turned into three-on-three, with a shared goalie promising to stop every shot, no matter which side tried to score.

Nearing 4 pm, the familiar jingle of the ice cream truck came drifting down the street. I had no money in my pocket, but the other kids lined up in anticipation, so I waited with them. After all, the game wouldn’t continue until after they finished their snack.

Steve’s dad appeared and stood with his son at the curb as the truck arrived. Steve made an order, as did the next child. The ice cream man wrote down the…

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Jeffrey Cohen

Longtime writer and crank. Articles come from more than 30 years in journalism and corporate communications. Follow my podcast at MrJeff2000.podbean.com.