For students, summer this year is not filled with that characteristic longing for school to end and thoughts of late nights, putting away the alarm clock and trips abroad before the “free paper” (as we love to call it in Jamaica) ends and it’s back to school. The pandemic brought a premature end to school activities. So students had an unexpected early vacation. Albeit online classes meant that class was still in session, though I’m quite sure classes in your “jammies” from home is way different from the formal schoolroom.
Millenium summer holidays are so very different from back in the days when us Islanders were kids. Back in those days, we didn’t have the myriad of activities to keep us from literally dying from boredom. It was reflecting on those lazy days that brought back memories of my mischievous neighbour and the things he used to do to relieve his boredom during the listless summer days at home.
Meet Stephen, your average red-blooded Jamaican ten year-old; an only child of he Bascombes of the Beverley Hills Bascombes. The Bascombes operated a large store in the Mall (back in the days — plazas) and spent most of their day there. This meant that poor Stephen was left in the care of the housekeeper and his maternal grandmother. Translation: Stephen had a lot of time on his hands to devote to finding ways to amuse himself. His mind was always awash with ways to play tricks and pranks on any poor unsuspecting person who crossed his path. He derived a certain amount of pleasure from being a mastermind prankster.
One particular morning, he sat on the verandah in his grandmother’s old rocking chair, his mind abuzz with what prank he would play that day. Of course now, your little old playing a trick on someone has not only undergone a name change but has morphed into television reality shows. Who remembers PUNKED? “Punking” was really what Stephen was doing minus TV crew, cameras and Ashton Kutcher.
As boredom overtook him he heard the calls of “Fudge, Icicle, Ice Cream Cake”, coming from a tired, sun-soaked Fudge Man. Now, back in the day, the Fudge Man was a child’s delight. These were men who rode bicycles or motorbikes with a wooden box strapped to the back or front and a horn attached to the bike. They would honk and call out “Fudge” to let you know they were in the area. In the box was a world of fudges (a sort of frozen ice cream delight but on a stick like an icicle), icicles, ice cream cakes (a type of cake that consists of a layer or layers of ice cream, yum yum) and ice cream cones — a multiplicity of frozen delectables kept frozen by chunks of dry ice. The Fudge Man or “Fudgie” as he was loving called sold only frozen ice desserts and absolutely nothing else….only ice cream!
On hearing the calls Stephen sprung into action, his eyes lighting up. He rushed to the gate to observe the progress of the Fudge Man down the avenue. The poor vendor was pedalling laboriously, completely oblivious to the fact that he was going to be “punked” by well, a master prankster.
Soon he reached the house with the boy behind the gate. He looked at the boy with a look of longing, the anticipation of a sale written all over his face. But Stephen showed no interest — he had other things on his mind. Fudgie rode away in disappointment.
Stephen hurriedly climbed to the top of the gate to get a good view of his departure watching patiently as Fudgie neared the end of the avenue.
He scampered down the gate, opened it and stepped out onto the street and shouted, “Fudgie, Fudgie, Fudgie”, beckoning with his hands that he wanted the man to come back.
Fudgie turned; “A sale!” he must have said to himself. His pedalling became rapid. As he approached Stephen, the boy moved back into his yard and locked the gate behind him.
Fudgie looked at him and said, “What do you want son — cone, ice cream cake?”
Stephen stared directly at him and said, “Do you have any peanut butter sandwiches?”
Remember now, Fudgie sold only frozen delights. Stephen was in stitches as an angry Fudgie rode off. He made his way back to the verandah and the rocking chair, his mind in overdrive thinking about his next prank.
Rotten trick to play on poor Fudgie. After that day, like The Boy who Cried Wolf, Stephen had a very difficult time getting Fudgie to sell him anything.