Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
Helado on wheels
Last ice cream of summer
Wandering the byroads of the barrio.
Cold night has become hot day here on Nelson, near Beardsley, in Barrio Logan. Sweat’s tickling back of neck.
Hear the tinkle of a little bell coming at me.
Aha! Know what that is.
Just in time.
It’s Antonio trundling his carrito de helados - ice cream cart - coming down Newton towards Perkins Elementary school.
“Helados!” he calls.
Wow. This could be TJ, Mexico City, Guadalajara, whatev.
“How much?” I ask.
He holds up a finger. “One dollar.”
So I look among the dozens of color pictures of ice creams and popsicles on sticks pasted on his cart's cooler-container.
“We have blackberry, chocolate, cone, stick…” Antonio says.
“Blackberry,” I say.
He hauls out a strawberry ice cream on a stick. “Fruiti Pops.”
“Fine,” I say. "That'll do."
I hand him a buckaroo and start unwrapping it.
Huh. Notice he has a big cardboard box strapped to the back. For wrappers.
Just a chew away
"What kind of flavors would you have if this was Mexico?"
"Oh! Tamarindo, guyaba (guava), limón (lime)."
“Schoolkids are your main customers?”
“Definitely. Specially in summer. On good hot days I can make $100.”
“A lot less..."
He looks down the street. A clump of kids is gathering in the distance.
"I've got to go."
He starts pushing his cart away down Newton. I see his right finger twitch. The bell calls out to those kids coming out of school.