Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Coinage and Mr. Whippy

I'm not a serious collector of coins, but I do have a small collection of coins that interest me. I saved (in some cases, inadvertently) lots of coins from the European nations now using the euro. Over the years, I found that I had 2 favorite coins. One is the French 10 franc coin, not the 2 color one of later years, but the older, smaller diameter, thicker one. This coin is no longer in circulation. My other favorite coin is the British pound sterling. Like the old 10 franc piece, it is thick with a relatively small diameter. It is a beautiful bronze-gold color, and comes with varying designs on one side, representing the different countries in the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The unchanging side has a profile of the queen.

What I like about it is not the designs, but the weight, color, and hand-feel. It's hard to describe, but it feels and looks like it has real value. The only problem is that it is heavy, and there is no pound bill, nor even a 2-pound bill. In fact, the smallest bill denomination is 5 pounds, and that's quite a lot of money (more than US$9 at the current exchange rate). This means that you wind up with lots of heavy coins to carry around; the 2-pound, 2-pence, and 50-pence coins are also fairly substantial. Only my wallet isn't really constructed for carrying a lot of change. And so there is change in the bottom of my purse/handbag, change in my pocket, change in my wallet, change on the kitchen counter, change on the dresser, change in the car, change that my daughter plays with, change everywhere. I find myself buying Mr. Whippies from the local ice cream truck/van just to get rid of change (at least that's my excuse).

Oh, didn't I mention the ice cream van? Near as I can tell, they are a ubiquitous summer institution. Everywhere you go there are the dulcet tones of the ice cream van, coupled with the throb of the engine and the smell of diesel fuel. The soft serve ice cream that they sell is usually Mr. Whippy, a confection which resembles whipped cream more than ice cream. I could easily eat a bucketful at a sitting, but I console myself with a simple cone. I figure it's mostly air, and what substance there is has little dairy in it - it seems closer to Cool Whip, though not quite so sweet. You can have a little syrup dribbled over your ice cream, several flavors to choose from. I always get chocolate. The fellow that comes to our neighborhood sounds Italian; the name "Joe's Ice Cream" is painted on the side of the van, and for some inexplicable reason the tune he plays is "Greensleeves", which doesn't seem conducive to drawing out children for a cone. Nonetheless, he takes the same route every day, and I know when I hear "Greensleeves" the 3rd time he's down on the corner. Yummmmm.

The question is, where do the ice cream van owners go after the summer? I must ask Joe.



At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I realise I'm a bit late replying to this post, but better late than never as we Brits say, and I only found the blog this evening (and have been laughing ever since!!). But my comment is regarding the bit about the tune "Greensleeves" drawing out the children to the ice-cream van -in fact my friend told her children when they were small that if an icecream van was playing a tune it meant that they had sold out - inspired!! She got away with this for a couple of years I think. And where do they go in the winter? Well, one goes in my son's back garden (yard - yes, two can play at that game) where it sits quietly getting damp and mouldy waiting for the next summer - my son (I think like most ice-cream men/people) only does it to get some extra income not as a full time job.
Thanks for the laughs though - a bit reminiscent of Bill Bryson but of course ehanced by you having a feminine eye for detail!


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