Photograph taken in Fairfax, Virginia in about 1967.
I sure do remember those Good Humor trucks!
But I don’t remember that big disc on the side. Is it some sort of safety barrier that swings out to protect the kids?
I was thinking that the big disc might be a cover for a spare tire housing on the side?
Maybe so, but it would block the driver’s side door. Looking closer I don’t think I see a door handle, so maybe the driver gets out curbside.
Yes, the driver gets out curbside. There was no curbside door on these Good Humor trucks.
I’m not sure why that big disc is there, but I think it’s just a styling feature. These set of photos from barnfinds.com shows what appears to be an identical truck, and shows interior pics as well. It’s in rough shape, but we can get the idea of what they were like:
(I don’t know why the link reads “Maverick” but the barnfinds piece IS about an ice cream truck…)
I think you meant there is no “street-side” door, no?
Well, I guess there weren’t real doors on EITHER side.
While the street side appeared to have a panel that couldn’t open, on the curb side, it was just wide open, somewhat like the example below. There appear to have been a lot of different variations on the same concept, but most I’ve seen don’t have any door or panel on the right-hand side, and it’s the only way into or out of the cab:
It is a spare tire cover for a housing on the side. J P is correct. We had a Shasta trailer similar to the one in the picture around this time. Towed by our ’65 Impala wagon or Dads ’67 Lincoln.
+2 on the Good Humor Truck! Wow do I remember those. (Born in 1960 here). As I got to my early double digit years, these were mostly replaced by small delivery van types (think Snowball Truck… or is that just a Baltimore thing? ;o).
I think there must be something hardwired in our brains that strengthens the memory around a sudden dose of ice cream and chocolate.
Fifth from the left/fourth from the right: 1963 Dodge Dart 270.
Is this ice cream truck a Ford?
Very cool scene. I love the mid-century building ’64 or ’65 Comet 404 and that Ford ice cream truck!
Funny to see how the truck was extensively modified for its specific purpose!
Also funny to see a passenger car pulling a travel trailer. Today you’d think we need a F-950 turboquadmegaduallycoalroller…
And today a trailer of that size would be considered small for two people. I bet a family of 5 camped in the trailer in our photo.
The Comet is a ’65.
I am guessing 1964 Olds 88 pulling the trailer. Is that a 62 Dodge up ahead of the white Dart? I cannot tell.
It looks like it might be a ’64 or ’65 Falcon, J P, but I can’t be sure.
That was my first impression… Falcon. In the left turn lane (they had those in the sixties?) just ahead of the Falcon and Dart appears to be a ’66 Fairlane, although it might be a ’65 Galaxie. It’s hard to tell due to the pixelization.
It looks more like a 65 Galaxie to me, Fairlane taillights are thinner
Yeah, I am in agreement there, Matt… I edited my post to more I thought about it.
The interesting thing is that, due to almost yearly restyling of most American cars at that time (and these are ALL American cars–quite a difference from today!), we can do a pretty good job of identifying the cars in the picture. Today, when police give a description of a vehicle to alert the public, they normally say something like “a dark mid-size SUV with a spare tire on the back.” So sad, isn’t it?
In 1959, manufacturers only offered “full-size” models (excepting the Corvette and Thunderbird…), and yet eight years later we see a street scene where the majority of the cars are compacts or intermediates.
It’s hard to believe the big three continued to increase the size of their full size models for another 5 years while their customers migrated to more practical options.
Now we all know it’s tough to generalize based on one photo… BUT… to expand on your theory, here’s the same street in 1980:
(and yes, the street was changed to one-way traffic between the two photos)
What a great juxtaposition of pictures! I think that this “switch” played out in the 1980s across so many cities and towns in America (I know it did in New Orleans–especially driven by customers defecting from the previously dominant GM brands to imports).
Is that also a BMW 1602/2002 in the very back of the 1980 photo?
A restaurant has occupied the small frame house in all three photos. In the 1980 photo, and the most current photo, the restaurant is called “Havabite Eatery.”
Wow, between 1967 and 1980 it went from 100% American cars to 100% imports.
I take it the Alibi was a nightclub or some such (with dancing?) that took over the old bowling alley?
As to why the big three continued to increase the size of full size models, it always comes down to the fact that it costs about the same to manufacture a small or a large car, and the margins on large cars are almost always higher, as they command a higher price. By making even larger, it made it easier to charge even higher margins and justify higher MSRPs on their bread and butter large sedans by making them physically larger. It took the price of fuel to make people really accept smaller cars. Economy cars, as they often called compacts, did not sell well loaded with options, and even now, the North American market rarely sees luxurious small A class cars from Europe available.
We are seeing it happen now with trucks and SUV/CUVs. Why would the OEMs make low margin cars when we happily pay much higher margins on trucks and lifted CUVs? Sedans will fade away, not totally die, but the switch is clearly happening.
CUVs seem to be skyscraper rational applied to cars – “we can’t expand wider or longer anymore, so we’ll build up!”
The annoying part is inertia propelled that mentality among automakers more than anything, there were periods where the “standard car” filled all needs for most people just fine and were actually reasonably sized, which would have been up to the mid-50s. But it became expectation that every major update came with extra dimensions, and ironically the compacts and intermediates likely enabled that formula. Customers can’t complain too much about the standard Ford turning into a land barge if they have the option to just buy a Fairlane, for less money at that. Whenever automaker’s complain about lower profits from smaller dimensions of those segments, they only need to blame themselves, they set the prices and they rolled out the marketing.
Personally, I think the decline of the American auto industry is heavily due to segment expansion during the 60s. Big cars may have been more profitable, but how much of that profit had to be reinvested into new tooling, factory’s, marketing and R&D into these largely unrelated cars of different sizes? And how much did the quality ultimately suffer with 2/3rds of a lineup generating less profit per unit than before with one basic model? By the 70s the cost of these full model lineups was clearly apparent when fuel economy and pollution control needed to be addressed for each and every model, and the results were predictably poor.
Remember when travel trailers could be pulled by cars….when we didn’t need enormous dually pickups with 800 ft/lb torque rated diesel engines…?
Most of us still don’t; “need” doesnt’ tend to be the determinant of what’s purchased.
From Google street view…
So it started out with two-way traffic, became one-way by 1980, then reverted to two-way again? Why do they do this?
There’s no bypass to carry Rte. 236 around downtown Fairfax, so they used an adjacent road for westbound traffic and made Main St. one way eastbound. That made those two roads in to a bit of a racetrack, which helped kill downtown retail. When they redeveloped the downtown in the last decade or so, they reverted both streets to two way in an attempt (only partially successful) to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
There must have been some sort of planning for a freeway bypass. The image below is from 1966. Maybe the parallel one-ways were configured after the freeway plan was abandoned.
Fairfax City would be a very different place if the bypass had been built. I, for one, am glad it wasn’t.
Good to see that Olive Garden didn’t kill the Havabite Restaurant, but it looks like the chains killed the independent pharmacy.
One change hidden in plain sight is the bowling alley. They used to be everywhere. Now, not so much.
There were two in my small hometown, and they are now both gone.
I feel that trailer should be pulled by the 64-65 Falcon a few cars ahead. The tapered side stripe leading to the round taillights almost seems intentionally Falcon like.
I love the look of the vine covered building
I must be older than some of the people here. I remember the previous generation Good Humor trucks, where there was no roof over the driver. In the 50s, I lived on a dead end street next to a playground in Dearborn. The Good Humor truck could camp there all day in the summer. My language skills were not so well developed then, so I referred to the trucks as “the doing” because of the sound of their bells.
This one shows up at the Motor Muster in Greenfield Village most years, and they serve from it too. I have talked with the guy who owns the VW beer van, but the chances of him serving are pretty slim.
The open top Good Humor trucks like the one in the picture actually had a sliding panel over the cab, and the ones in my area in the early 70s had a roll down window on the driver’s side so they had some weather protection. They were gradually replaced by step vans in the mid-late 70s before Good Humor disappeared from the streets.
I like the “nose in the air stance” of the Comet and the Oldsmobile.
The lead car in that line (Falcon?) also has a nose high stance. I’ll put the Olds’ stance to a poorly loaded trailer putting too much weight on the tongue. The stance of the Comet and Falcon could be accentuated by the road going uphill, causing a weight shift to the rear of the cars. The other thing is that, in the early 60s it was fashionable to have cars on a “rake”, with the nose high and rear low, as if it was accelerating with authority. A Falcon and Comet are not the sort of cars I would expect to have owner modified suspensions, but that could be the way Ford styled them. Even my grandfather noticed it and commented on cars “with their tails dragging”.
Of course, the fashion changed in the late 60s to having the rear jacked up, as if it was a dragster.
We had a ’66 Falcon with the 200 six as a family car for a while. The rear springs had the same saggy issue, with the nose higher than the tail. I think the one above is a ’65, and the pic was in ’67, so it must have started sinking right out of the showroom. I get that the uphill grade probably exaggerates the effect a little, but, unless there’s a load of bricks in the trunk, it still looks like pretty chintzy engineering. I seem to remember this was a weakness in the Falcons and possibly the six-cylinder Mustangs too.
I love the ice cream truck, though.
My family drove our black ’61 Dodge Polara sedan cross-country and spent a week in Fairfax in ’67, with relatives, as we trailed my dad to a national convention in DC. I was only 10 and remember a lot of trees and open space where the relatives lived. There was a 7-11 (first one I ever saw), just down University Avenue from their house. I’m told that neighborhood was built up to the hilt over the years.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Copyright 2011 - 2023 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.