Everybody knows him … everybody loves him. Sno Cone Joe was a man with a white truck and a mission. He was the guy with the truck full o’ ice and sugary syrup that froze the brain of every kid from Perry Street to the Arterial. Since my interactions with him were pretty much on the same level as a crack dealer providing drugs to a junkie, I must necessarily make inferences and assumptions about the inner workings of the mind and psyche of Sno Cone Joe.
On a typical summer day, in little kid ville USA, we were playing baseball at Briggs Field. Now the field was about a half mile from the road, so when Sno Cone Joe pulled up in his truck and started the ding-a-ling thing, we had to drop everything and run like rabid pit bulls. I have no idea why we ran, because, Joe had a limited audience, of which we were the majority. I seem to remember a sno cone costing 5 cents. Or you could go for a double for 10 cents. But a double never lasted, as by the time you got to the second ball of ice, the wimpy paper cup would be all soaked through. Usually at that point, the sno cone turned into a weapon of mass destruction, to be hurled at some unlucky sap.
I don’t remember Joe selling any other snacks besides sno cones, probably to keep his overhead down to gas, smashed up ice, kool aid, and sugar. It is also possible that he lived in his truck and never bathed, although I can’t categorically prove this assumption. The question does come to mind – “What would drive a man to do it?”. It was always the same guy year after year. Always the same white suite and hat. Always the same truck with the faded paint and cheesy bell.
Let’s do a quick calculation – he sold about 20 snow cones per playground per visit or about $1 per playground stop. There were two playgrounds, that he probably visited about 5 times a day. $10 per day does not seem like a living wage to me. It may be that he had other stops or a side line, I dunno. Maybe he was hiding from the FBI.
I must assume that Sno Cone Joe was wintering elsewhere, since most did not want a brain freeze in the middle of winter in Upstate New York. Based on my calculations above, I must also assume that he was independently wealthy, had a great health care plan, and just did it out of the goodness of his heart. I like that idea a lot, as it restores my faith in humanity, in the inherent goodness that inhabits the human soul. It also makes me hopeful that there is even some inherent goodness in the black hearts of the members of Congress and the Senate, since most there are also independently wealthy and have a great health care plan.
It may also be that Sno Cone Joe was secretly a member of Congress.
Much later in life (circa 2013), I would learn that there was a turf war between Sno Cone Joe and Mister Ding-a-ling. I post this excerpt from a local news cast, so that future generations may realize the folly of fucking with Sno Cone Joe.
(CBS/AP) GLOVERSVILLE, N.Y. – The chilly relationship between rival upstate New York ice cream truck operators got out of hand this season, with Sno Cone Joe trying to chase Mr. Ding-A-Ling out of the market, authorities said Wednesday.
Gloversville police told local media outlets two Sno Cone Joe operators face harassment and stalking charges after heated confrontations last month that included one of them yelling “This is my town!” at Phillip Hollister, a Mr. Ding-A-Ling driver, CBS affiliate WRGB reports.
Hollister told police that Sno Cone Joe owners Joshua Malatino and Amanda Scott followed his truck, playing their music at high volume and trying to lure away customers with promises of free ice cream.