A Little Kid’s Ice Cream Man, Lobsters Delivered on FB-111 Bombers & Lobster Tail at The Pentagon
The title presents quite a combination … but it’s all true!
When I was a first and second-grader, some days a cowboy and on other days and indian, my big daily moment was when Sam The Ice Cream Man came to our street in our Portsmouth, New Hampshire working class neighborhood. Perhaps one of the reasons I grew up to become a reasonably good organizer is I always managed a scheme to get my daily ice cream and I’d help others get theirs.
Every day the ice cream truck bell would ring and we’d race from our homes and politely gather ‘round. Hopping from out of the truck was Sam, a short man with a pronounced belly, a Frank Sinatra hat and always a cigar clipped to his mouth. To any kid my age in my neighborhood … Sam was our hero! He always came through, even in bad weather.
Well, my dad worked his way up the ladder and my family moved out of our starter rental and we bought an American Dream home in Happy Hampton, New Hampshire. Yes, there was an ice cream truck but the operator was nothing like Sam.
So time moved on, I grew up more interested in baseball than anything, went from cub scouts to boy scouts eventually becoming a Star Scout and the Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 177. I organized my first protest when I staged a walk-out from the scout meeting because they wouldn’t excuse us so we could watch Game 7 of a Celtics Championship.
But music trumped sports and so ended my potential career as a shortstop Luis Aparicio copycat. My band was The Yardbirds. Sure, the Beatles and Stones were coming on but they were nothing like The Yardbirds. The Yardbirds fit better with Dylan, civil rights and anti-war … so became the destiny of the rest of my life. Sixty years later, nothing has changed. I remain an independent spirit.
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My dad got me a guitar when I was a young teenager and he set me up with lessons. But, Gus, the guitar teacher, from my small view of the world, was rather strange. Anyway, he taught me to play Little Brown Jug and Yankee Doodle. The third lesson I insisted he teach me how to play Apache by The Ventures.
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My dad got me a guitar when I was a young teenager and set me up with lessons. But the guitar teacher was, in my small…
Sadly, and fatefully, my guitar teacher told me to stick with the two songs he already taught me. Frustrated, I quit my lessons and went through the remainder of my teenage years with a one-string guitar as most strings broke from wild basement teen pots and pans band sessions, especially when my parents weren’t home.
I finally, in my ’30s, taught myself how to play guitar and immediately began writing songs. But I pretty much remained a backbench folksinger mostly due to my interest in politics — this is a whole ‘nother story!
Out of high school I became a conscientious objector against the war, a GI and veterans anti-war organizer. After the Peace Movement, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I went on to managing rock n’ roll bands. Ten years later, now in the ’80s, I retreated to my birth town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I became a cab driver and started teaching myself how to play guitar.
So What’s All This Got to Do With Lobster, FB-111 Bombers and The Pentagon?
Well, a highly competitive taxi business in a small port city — what with oil tankers, freighter ships and a naval yard and an air force base— is indeed a rather cut throat experience. The small cab owners were always at war with one another and each had an extra niche for getting money, keeping an edge over the other.
In a world of true irony, at one point I found myself driving for what was then A-1 Taxi, owned by a man named Sam.
You guessed it! Sam The Ice Cream Man!
He maintained the same characteristics — still had the cigar clipped to his mouth — except now he was older, balding and what little hair he had was gray. He was also fatter, but his hat was still similar. Much to my chagrin, as the owner of a cut throat taxi company he was anything but friendly.
No more ice cream for me!
In fact, he was rather mob-like. He wasn’t anything like the friendly ice cream man I once knew as a small child. To make matters even more perplexing, depressing actually, was my discovery when I checked out the junk cars — ole’ cabs that bit the dust — in his back yard. Lo and behold, there among them was my favorite ice cream truck before my family hit it big in The American Dream!
I got to see it again … but no ice cream for me!
So what was Sam’s extra niche to stay ahead in a dog-eats-dog small-time taxi business? Sam had an ‘inside’ connection at Pease AFB. His money-maker was arranging for transport of fresh Maine lobsters with the pilots of the FB-111 bombers who were perfectly capable of swift delivery of lobster to generals and politicians far and wide in North America.
And then, today, comes this news about how The Pentagon maintains a fondness for lobster tails:
The Pentagon Blew $22 Million of Taxpayer Money on Lobster Tail Last Year
Photo: Getty Images On Monday, President Donald Trump released his $4.7 trillion budget proposal, one that…
So that’s the military side of this story.
To add further irony to this story, while driving the cab, I once had to pick up a fare at The Dragon Seed, a Chinese restaurant on the Maine side of the Piscataqua River. On weekends they featured country and western bands.
So I go into the bar to find my fare and I see and hear the country band performing on a large stage. Proving the existence of a fickle finger of fate, there on stage was Gus, the guitar teacher who told me to stick with Little Brown Jug and Yankee Doodle.
Irony of all ironies? He was performing the song Cab Driver. At the time, I had a ’56 Gibson Les Paul, Jr. in the trunk of my cab and I was teaching myself how to play in between taxi fares.
Now, nearly 70 years old, I’ve got my own rock n’ roll band named Climate Change. To keep irony solid, I’m now living in young memories and not old ones. After all, this is only a story in life with a sad military reality.