The 1960s brought dark days to the children of Raleigh when the City Council determined the operation of ice cream trucks on city streets to be too dangerous.
Although defenders of the vendors argued that banning them was discrimination against a particular type of business and that accidents had been relatively few, the council voted in favor of "an ordinance prohibiting the sale of ice cream from mobile units on Raleigh streets."
Photo courtesy of the NC State Archives
Raleigh Times writer Shirley Mudge explained that this wasn’t the first time the city had tried to pass laws for the protection of children.
Several years ago treasure hunts sponsored by a local radio station led adults as well as children into the streets and by-way searching for clues to the location of some prize.
Councilmen, concerned about the way youngsters were drawn into the streets on such hunts, passed an ordinance prohibiting the games.
Two other city ordinances were designed specifically with children in mind. One prohibits the leaving of abandoned refrigerators (with doors on them) where children might be injured. Another prohibits the sale of fire crackers.
On the subject of ice cream sales, Mayor W. G. Enloe and several city councilmen have indicated they do not favor allowing ice cream trucks in residential areas because they allegedly cause some children to dash into streets without looking.
Other councilmen have argued that prohibiting the sale is unfair to the ice cream companies since the sale of vegetables and certain other goods is permitted on city streets. -- The Raleigh Times 2/24/1962
It took some time, but the sun finally came out again for ice cream lovers, and writer Judy Bolch took a ride with a local vendor.
Once a fixture on the summer scene, the ice cream truck and its tinkling bells disappeared about 15 years ago following a two-year controversy in which city ordinances prohibiting such sales -- on the grounds they were dangerous to children-- were twice ruled invalid by the state Supreme Court. After that, according to City Atty. Tom MCCormick, the trucks were not illegal, but apparently few, if any, were operating....
A whole new generation of ice cream lovers is getting used to door-to-door delivery of their favorite treat and getting over their surprise at seeing the truck in their neighborhoods.
Riding along with Barry Harmon, a driver for Good Time Ice Cream Inc., ... is a lesson in how to make people happy.
None of the children queried on Harmon’s route had ever seen an ice cream man before ... but they knew what it was, they reported, from pictures.
Therefore, Harmon is a man pursued....
Children pedal furiously after him on their bikes and screeches of "ice cream!" emanate from inside houses.
On a typical day his truck will cover 75 to 100 miles, and he’ll dispense hundreds of the Popsicles, multi-flavored sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, frozen Heath bars, Fudgsicles, pushups and Cheerios which comprise his menu of 25 to 45-cent items.
"I love it," Harmon said about his job as he drove this big white truck around the winding streets of a West Raleigh neighborhood recently. He likes not only the joy of his customers but also the freedom which comes from going where the ice cream trail takes him.
Periodically Harmon jingled the group of four small bells (each with three clappers) which decorates his windshield. More rarely he sounded the clanging electric bell which penetrates even the cocoon of an air-conditioned home. "If I use it too much, it gives me a headache," Harmon said.
He stopped his truck, and a 90-year-old woman, escorted by a companion, hobbled to the curb. "She comes out every day," he said....
"A lot of people come up and buy one ice cream for them and one for their dogs. One man told me that if he’s not there, just to give one to the dog and he’ll pay me later," Harmon said. -- The Raleigh Times 6/17/1977