CLEVELAND - He is a throwback to a long-ago time. Darryl Banks has stepped back in time by tricycling an ice box of popsicles, ice cream sandwiches and other cold treats through his neighborhood. Don't call him Darryl. Call him "Shakey, the ice cream man."
Darryl "Shakey" Banks works for an industrial company during most of the day. When he leaves his job, he makes a headlong dash for the Checker Bar Ice Cream Company on Cleveland's St. Clair Avenue. There, he buys a load of icy treats packed around packages of dry ice to keep them frozen. He puts his tricycle on the back of his pickup truck and dashes to neighborhoods, selling the treats.
He is the last of the pedaling ice cream salesmen. In the 1950s and before, they were abundant in Cleveland. However, the motorized ice cream salesmen, dressed in white, as they drove their white ice cream trucks through Cleveland, pushed aside the pedal-powered salesmen. Eventually, even the trucks disappeared.
Darryl Banks also wanted to sell ice cream off a tricycle. He found a vehicle on e-bay. When he made the deal, he drove to Wisconsin to pick it up. He has been in business for a couple of years. It is summertime work only.
Most times, he operates in his own neighborhood in the East 92nd Street area north of St. Clair. He grew up there, still lives there, and sells his popsicles there.
"I'm not making a big profit," said Banks. "It's just something for the kids because I remember when I was young."
There are even special deliveries. For the elderly on his route, Banks will trudge up sidewalks and steps to front porches. For his grandmother, who lives around the corner for Banks' home, there is usually a kiss planted on her cheek as he puts an ice cream sandwich in her hands.
"She was the one who named me Shakey when I was a kid," beams Banks.
Attached to his tricycle is a large umbrella that shades him as he pedals along the streets at about two miles an hour. The customers know he is coming because music pulses from a box of sounds he has attached to the traveling ice wagon.
"Here comes Shakey; here comes Shakey," one child shouted as the tricycle turned a corner. There was a mad dash by the kids, each waving a dollar bill. Every item in Shakey's ice box costs a dollar. In a matter of a few minutes, he is sold out.
The children smile as they eat popsicles and ice cream treats. Darryl "Shakey" Banks also smiles because he has brought happiness to the neighborhood. He will put away his tricycle until tomorrow when he will pedal the summertime streets again.