The terrible tornadoes in Alabama last week reminded me that one person’s bad luck is another’s good fortune.
For instance, in June, 1953, a tornado ripped through the West Side of Cleveland through the areas of Bosworth and W. 117th St., south of Lorain. It continued through the Bridge and Franklin Ave. areas of the near West Side and through downtown. There was a street festival at E. Ninth and Short Vincent where the tornado lifted a police horse into the air. When the horse fell out of the funnel and crashed to the pavement it was killed.
Anyway, I had just gotten a job pedaling an ice cream bike. I rode my Schwinn to W. 105th and Lorain where I picked up my bike and a load of ice cream bars. It was a little storefront operation where a guy made his own ice cream and had bought six used ice cream bikes. You’ve seen them. They had a big white box in front with a wheel on each side and the back end was a bike. I pedaled a regular route from W. 105th to W. 140th south of Lorain.
The day after the tornado the sun came out and the temperature went over 90 degrees. I followed the path of destruction up Bosworth and south. I don’t know why. But when men, who were on their roofs nailing down shingles, leaped off their roofs for ice cream bars, it occurred to me. They had no electricity and would not have electricity for several days. They were hot and thirsty and their only relief was me. I sold out and went back for another load. It went that way for three or four days. The ding-a-ling of my bell was a heavenly sound. Entire families lined up at the curb for ice cream. When I ran out, I said, “I’ll be back in half an hour.” They were still waiting when I got back. I sold load after load until the electricity came back on and they no longer needed me.
I want to stress that I gouged nobody. I did not raise my prices. That never occurred to me. I was only 14 years old. But I wouldn’t do it anyway. I would not do that today.
After one week I made $100 which was my sophomore year tuition at St. Ed’s High School and I quit my ice cream job.
To this day ice cream is my favorite food along with apple and cherry pie.
That’s all for now. Signing off.
By the way, here’s my schedule of talks and personal appearances for the rest of May:
May 12, Thursday, 11:30 am. Ursuline College
May 15, Sunday, 2 p.m. Chagrin Falls Library
May 16, Monday, 7 p.m. North Royalton Library
May 21, Saturday, 2 p.m. Parma Heights Library
May 23, Monday, 7 p.m. Mentor Library
May 24, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Highland Library
May 26, Thursday, 11 a.m. Strosacker Hall, Baldwin-Wallace College