My Favorite Ice Cream Man Of 1975

One of Fuji’s recent Flea Market Finds posts showed a table that had stacks of junk wax held together with rubber bands… Someone was “old school”, but not in a good way.

…But it reminded me of something from back in 1975…
1975 Topps Bill Travers
On Long Island, where I grew up, we got most of our cards from two places… The first place was the “card store”, which is in quotes because the type of store I’m talking about seems to be a uniquely metro New York thing.  The “cards” in question were greeting cards, but these stores also sold cigarettes and candy and gifts and magazines and newspapers and the current version of the Official Rule Book of the National Mah Jongg League and various tchotchkes and toys… and trading cards.  Kind of like a convenience store, but not really.  Kind of like a Hallmark store, but not really.  I’ve never known for sure, but I suspect that these stores evolved from New York City newsstands.

The second place we got most of our cards was from the ice cream man.  Just like the card stores sold more than greeting cards, the ice cream man sold more than ice cream.  Most of them also sold candy and Wacky Packages stickers and baseball cards and other things which were cheap and appealed to kids.
1975 Topps Larry Haney
Regardless of where you bought your cards, you usually had three options.  If you had a dollar, you could buy two rack packs (84 cards), 4 cello packs (72 cards) or 6 wax packs (60 cards plus a dime left over).

But during the summer of 1975 there was this one ice cream man who had something different.  Something exciting.

He sold stacks of 100 baseball cards for a buck each.
1975 Topps Jim Ray
The stacks were sold out of his truck, held together with a thick rubber band… Not that we cared.  I was one of the few kids who didn’t use a rubber band to hold his cards together…but I was too excited at the prospect of getting a big ol’ stack of cards for a dollar to worry about some rubber band.

To say the least, it was AWESOME.  You didn’t need to be on the Honor Roll to know that a penny a card was cheaper than any of the other options.
1975 Topps Len Randle
But it was just this one guy… and just this one year.  I don’t remember if I saw him again in 1976, but if he did come around again, he didn’t have those stacks of cards.

I don’t know how many of those stacks I bought, but it’s probably not a coincidence that I completed the 1975 set before the calendar turned over to 1976.

1975 Topps Rich Hebner
The funny thing is, it wasn’t until many, many years later that it even occurred to me that this guy might’ve been pulling out stars or Mets or Yankees.  My stacks could’ve been as common-filled as the images that go with this post.

But it just didn’t matter.  I guess this was my first experience with buying in bulk, and for a kid trying to complete a set, quantity was definitely more important than quality.

1975 Topps Willie Montanez

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Ice Cream Man Of 1975

    • Those types of stores always seemed to carry each year’s rule book, and I always thought it was strange…. What kind of game has rules that change every year and require you to buy a book?

      A bunch of my friends’ moms played mah jongg, so I kinda knew what it was, but the rule book on display in these stores just stuck with me.

      Funny thing- it wasn’t until many years later that I found out that mah jongg is Chinese in origin. It was such a big part of Jewish/American culture that I’d always assumed…

  1. Damn. My ice cream guy only sold ice cream! I got my cards from the corner candy store and the supermarket. My mom was surprised I wanted to go food shopping with her so much that summer, but she soon realized that for me it was all about those rack packs they had by the checkout. And she would always buy me a few packs. My allowance was gone to baseball cards the very day after I got it. Soon I was waiting by the supermarket doors and offering to carry folks shopping bags home for change. A quarter, fiddy cents, on a rare occasion I got a dollar. And I’d run back to the store and buy more cards. Great times.

    • Wow, you were a whole lot more entrepreneurial than I was… Great story!

      Where I lived was completely residential, no stores I could get to myself until I was a teenager and allowed to ride my bike several miles away. I’m sure our ice cream men saw the opportunity that was presented to them. :-)

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