Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Moving "Carvinal" -- Food Trucks/Rides

This one came up out of the blue when I was thinking of something else, but there's definitely a connection with growing up . . .
As I've said before, I grew up in the projects, and though we were poor, we had a good time.  All of us kids made games out of nothing.  We didn't need to have fancy toys or expensive bikes to have a good time, but occasionally, we did like being entertained by someone else, and during the summer, that was not a problem. 
During the summer, when all the kids were home from school, the moms had us 24/7, and I have to admit there were times when the females screaming at their children reverberated in the neighborhood.  Thankfully, we kids were like migrating birds:  when a female shriek rose above normal decibels, we all swarmed and flocked to the other end of the neighborhood where it was quieter :-)  We all loved our moms, but we had each other as "protectors" when it got to be a bit too much.  And our mothers, bless them all, definitely went beserk more than once during a hot Boston summer (pre-air-conditioning, mind you!).
It was on those days that nickels/dimes/quarters were handed out with abandon when the traveling food trucks came into the neighborhood.
The ice cream truck was usually the first one to arrive.  It would play an obnoxious musical tune (like Pop Goes The Weasel) -- over and over and over -- as it patrolled the neighborhood, stopping two or three times to sell Popsickles, Fudgesickles and Ice Cream Sandwiches to the kids and their parents.  If we were lucky, the moms would relinquish their coins and let us get a treat.  I'm sure they were terrifically excited that we quieted down for at least half an hour (until the sugar kicked in :-).
And at night, the Italian guys in the pizza truck came through.  They usually arrived on the weekends (it wasn't a nightly thing, probably because the guys knew that we all had certain dinners that fell on particular nights on the week -- the myth about spaghetti on Wednesdays was actually true in our neighborhood).  So, Friday night would be our moms' night off from cooking for the family.  That didn't happen often with my mother.  I could count on one hand the amount of times we got pizza from the truck.  My mother would say it was because the pizza wasn't that great, but I think it was because we simply didn't have the money.
And then . . . and THEN . . . there were the "other trucks."  The ones I loved best!
I remember three ride trucks in particular. One had a mini ferris wheel on it.  I think it probably sat 6 kids, tops.  The tiny wheel went round and round with a callipe playing the whole time.  Again, an obnoxious tune.
Then there was the bumper car truck.  Four or five little cars with antenna type wires that attached to the ceiling of the truck.   And when kids got into those cars -- BANG! -- you could drive, first of all (how cool was that?) and you could bump into anyone you wanted to -- with no apologies!  Yeah!  Let me drive!!!
And the third one was the mini Whip.  On the back of a flatbed trailer, a small oval race-car type of track and cars that attached to the center of the circle and whipped in oblong circles so fast that your head would jerk back.  (All kids love pain and they love to scream!)
Those trucks came around half a dozen times during the summer, and if we were really really really lucky, we got to ride them.  I often wondered about the kids who lived in other neighborhoods (rather than the projects) and whether they could ride those truck rides more than we did.
Yes, we might have been poor, but summers were special, and whenever we got one of these special treats, it was memorable.
I really appreciated those treats -- still do!


  1. I grew up in the suburbs (Billerica) in the 60s and never saw those "ride" trucks! How cool!

  2. Yup, one of the "cool" things about living in the projects is that people actually did try to "entertain" us :)