Heidi Trautmann

When the Icecream Man comes..



The Icecream Man comes at siesta times, that is the hottest time of a day, and when I hear the Dingelingeling, I lift my head, put the book aside and smile, and I can just stop myself of going out to buy an icecream, and I say... but next time, I will go out and meet him. It is not the thought of feeling the sweet coolness of the icecream on my tongue, it is the dingelingeling, and this sound transports me back to other times, other encounters, situations of life but always with a feeling of loss.

When I was a child my grandmother used to make wine or liqueur from elderberries and these bottles were only to be opened for special occasions, when an adult was sick with flue or the postman came in winter to the door with his hands and nose frozen blue from the sharp winds on his bicycle. She invited him in to sit next to the fireplace and offered him a glass full of the wine to warm him up. I don't know whether he had his blue nose from being offered too much too often or of the bitter cold. Then the forest man who brought us our christmas tree after he had caught us one winter night in the woods stealing one. He used to sit with us in the kitchen and telling us children stories about the animals in the winter forest.  He also came in summer because he liked the looks of my mother. Every two or three months a seamstress would come to the house to look after our clothes and things to repair because my grandmother had enough to do with five grandchildren, 30 chicken, 10 rabbits and  seven turkeys, actually she also wanted some pigs but my mother told her a strict NO..., a garden full of all kind of vegetables, fruit trees, even tobacco, so she needed help. Anni was her name and she could do magic tricks and circus acrobatics with us in the yard, with two children on her knees and one on her shoulders. We felt great.

And once in a while the scissors man came to sharpen our knives and scissors on his belt-driven grind stone, housewives were already waiting anxiously for his arrival. Our maidservant was telling us a mad story of a man in the woods with a girl's head on a plate and that the scissors man was somehow involved. I didn't believe her, he was such a nice man with red cheeks and a ready smile. But you never know and when I went into the woods mushrooming or berry-picking, I would look carefully where I went. I met another man of his profession and that was many years later in Antalya, I took his photo and I brought him a copy which he displayed on the wall next to him. When I went again two years later he was gone and nobody knew where to.

When you start remembering, then there comes quite a row of men and women towards you out of the blue. The handyman who came to repair the fence, the roof of the chicken shed, I used to bring him my toys and tools to repair, he made the tour twice a year and we all waited for him since we were at that time a house of women only. The little chair I loved to sit on behind the chicken shed for reading my fairy tales was broken, my bicycle had a flat tyre, and the wooden box I wanted to have to care for the baby birds in which had fallen out of their nests, of all that he took care of. He usually stayed with us for three or four days before he moved on, neighbours were waiting for him already with steaming meat pots to make labour easy for him. There were a lot of others, the chimney sweeper, we never forgot to touch for good luck and many more, and for Christmas us girls had to bake extra cookies for those travelling men and women... because they all turned up for a cup of coffee to collect their due. And, I must not forget the brown clad monks who came across our way to school, they all looked alike, they always had holy pictures in the folds of their tunics to catch our souls, and said nice things to us. When a little older we were very nasty in return because we spied on them on the lake where their recreation blockhouses were, and also those of the nuns, if there was a secret underwater passage between the huts. We never found out.

Years went by and I heard a similar dingelingaling from the mealie man, that is the man in South Africa who used to sell fresh corn-cobs, mealie = corn in Afrikaans language, for you to grill in the evenings. In those days you put the grill place on every summer evening, invited friends to come over to share your braiivleis (Barbequeue) with mealie pap and steaks, with boere wors (sausage). The maize pap you rolled between the fingers and dipped the balls into spicy gravy. And there was Tinky,  the garden man who came twice a month. He was a tiny coloured man and he loved the song “Oh Mammy Blue”, giggled and rolled his eyes. He really understood something of growing and caring for flowers, he was a good man, that one.

There were a lot of travelling people who have not come to the house but were of equal importance, the circus and theatre people or also trade-fair people who came to your town or village because there was no way of transport for ourselves, the financial gain was little but they performed with all their heart. What a time we have had.

There are many years we have sailed along the coasts of Turkey and have travelled through the country. Where are the men who have delivered the drinking water from the tanks on their back, and wandered from house to house serving a cup full of fresh water to the thirsty for a few coins. Where are the shoeshine boys of the Old America? There at least we have the old Jazz songs appreciating their services. Where are our shoeshiners, here? These services are not required any more it seems, with us wearing sandals and plastic shoes. It is not so long ago, perhaps just three years, that in this village we still had a travelling vendor coming with a haberdashery van, finery and clothes, and all the village women met and tried clothes on and laughed and enjoyed themselves. There is no need of all these people any more, because we all have cars, but, please, when you hear this dingelingeling of the Icecream Man, remember those wandering people with me.


Copyright Heidi Trautmann 

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