Curbside Classic: 1985 Cushman Truckster Ice Cream Truck

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(first posted 6/25/2013)   What’s that coming down the other side of 18th Avenue, playing that infernal tune ice cream trucks are notorious for? I have a rather deep loathing for that obnoxious sound blaring for way too long as an ice cream truck fruitlessly plies our quiet neighborhood, and have entertained thoughts of shooting them for disturbing the peace. Oh wait; that’s a vintage Cushman; now I really want to shoot him, but with my camera instead of a gun.

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Seeing that I’m pointing a camera and not a gun at him, the driver gives me a friendly wave. OK; time to  make a U turn, and give chase. That shouldn’t be very hard unlike some of the cars I’ve stalked. Speaking of, Stephanie and I were on our tandem bike last night, and I spotted a cute woody Model T truck several blocks ahead. We gave chase, but couldn’t catch it. Pathetic; getting old is a bitch….

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Due to traffic on 18th, it took me a bit longer than expected to change directions, and when I caught up with him on a side street, he was waiting for me with a friendly wave. It’s good to be friendly in this profession. The grumpy old Bad Humor man who used to ply Colonial Court in Towson was anything but. He needed a new gig. And he drove a full-sized Ford, like this.

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I think the Cushman’s owner’s name was Manny, and he proudly showed me around his 1985 Truckster four-wheeler. He has a trike too, which he will soon be driving as soon as this one is reliable enough for his wife to take to the streets in.

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He’s been doing some wiring work in the cab. The basic mechanicals are fine; there’s an OMC opposed-twin 22 horse engine down under the seat or thereabouts, and a three-speed transmission.

Here’s a video of one with its engine exposed and running, a trike version in this case. That familiar putt-putt sound; the ice cream guy in Iowa City drove a Cushman trike, back when they still rang bells. But it was the put-putting that really got my saliva going.

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Well, after the nice tour and chat, I couldn’t not buy an ice cream bar from him. A Mexican style coconut fruit bar, which reminded me of the street vendors with their helado push-carts and bells south of the border (or LA). Now that’s what I’d like plying our neighborhood, instead of that old Chevy Van with the bull horn blaring. Or even a Cushman, with the sound of its engine amplified instead of music …putt-putt-putt