Saturday, March 06, 2021

Good Humor Ice Cream, 1940s

A few weeks ago, GDB friend David W. sent me some scans of photos that his father had taken back in the early 1940's, when he worked for the Good Humor Ice Cream company. I was blown away by how fantastic (and historic) these photos are, and David graciously offered to share them with all of you. 

Take a look at this wonderful group photo with all of the friendly Good Humor vendors! David gave some history: My father was born in Wisconsin & grew up in Colorado.  In the early 1940s, he came out to California which had better job prospects.  He was hired by the Good Humor Ice Cream Co. in Long Beach as a driver/salesman.  For 18 months, from 1941 into 1942, he worked for the company.  In early 1942 he received a letter from the government "inviting" him to join the U.S. Army.  In the late 1940s he returned to California, eventually returning to live in Long Beach-  this is where I was born in the late 1950s.

The 1st photo of the Long Beach crew, which looks like a class picture, is a large print, measuring 7" x 20".  This required some work in Photoshop to get it to look this way.  I found out online that the Inman Co. (stamped on the lower left of the print) was a commercial & advertising photography company started in Long Beach in the 1930s.

In the group photo, my dad is in the back row, 3rd from the left, with his hat pushed back on his head.

The 2nd photo shows my dad standing by his truck.  Searching the internet, I narrowed down the make
of the vehicle to be a 1934-1936 International.

I love everything about this photo! "Meals 35¢",  "Auto Inn". the vintage vehicles, and the spotless white coat.

My dad's truck parked by a residence or small apartment complex. As tiny as it is, I do believe that David is right, these appear to be small apartments. I love the toylike "Arabian Nights" theme to modest this pre-War stucco building. I wish I knew where it stood.

And finally, this beautiful image; ...the company building in Long Beach.  This is also in the background of the group photo.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find any more specific information as to the location of the building (or
the other places shown in the other pictures).  There are cars to be identified, including what looks like
at least a couple 1930s Fords.

THANKS SO MUCH to David W. for sharing these fantastic photos, I can't express how much I enjoyed seeing them. And guess what? David has more images for us, from the late 1960's when he worked at Disneyland as a Tomorrowland cast member. You'll see those soon!


"Lou and Sue" said...

David W, these are great photos - and what a handsome young man! Thanks for sharing these. I'm looking forward to showing these to my dad as he was also a Good Humor man, probably in the mid to late 40s, in the warmer months, in Chicago. He sold ice cream with one of those bicycles with the freezer attached, at the local parks. I know he enjoyed that job, making people happy, and said he would go out all day and make a good wage (especially for a young man).

I CAN'T WAIT to see your Tomorrowland photos and hear lots of stories!

Thanks, David W and Major!


Wow these are great photos!! I had never heard of Good Humor till the early 1990’s - we were doing a cast after hours event at Disneyland and were hosting one of the competition games for Tomorrowland called FOOTBOWL ( football and bowling combined) “the Sports Craze of Tomorrow!!” Costuming provided us with a football referee / futuristic costume - all white with a black and red stripe down the leg and a black and white cap ..... some other employees saw us and laughed we looked like the Good Humor Man .... and confused I had to be informed on exactly what that was.

Looking forward to David’s late 60’s Tomorrowland pictures!! Did he ever work at the Tomorrowland FOOT BOWL stadium??

JC Shannon said...

For those of us old guys and gals, who remember the Good Humor Man, these photos bring back some really good memories. I immediately thought of the Jack Carson movie Good Humor Man. They are ice cream bars now, but we always called them Good Humors. Sue, is there no end to your dad's talents? I would love to hear some of his stories. Does anyone in the GDB family remember the Helms Bakery Man as well? He used to park in front of our house on Lamaida St., and the neighbors as well. I can still taste those molasses cookies. Great, now want ice cream and cookies. Thanks To David W. and Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I agree, these are great photos! I would also love to know the specific Long Beach locations for these.

I especially love the third photo. Is that doohickey between the headlights of the truck, the gizmo that played the truck's music?

In that same shot, the Auto Inn sign reads, "All Rooms With Baths - Reasonable Rates," and then the truck is blocking the next line, with only "kets" showing. Did that line read, "Extra Charge For Blankets," "We Sell Pike Tickets," or something else? I kind of need to know.

This post has reminded me that my brother and I had a Little Golden Book about The Good Humor Man. We still have many of our Little Golden Books, but for some reason, that one didn't seem to survive. However, I did find a copy of it on ebay:

Thank you, David W., for sharing your these photos with us, and Major too, for posting them!

Stu29573 said...

Great pictures, David! The first thing that struck me (not literally, that would hurt) is how small the early trucks were! They really are almost the bicycle carts with motors. I remember buying ice cream from a truck at least a couple of times as a kid, but I don't know what company. The toy piano tunes seemed to udually be "Camptown Races," and later "The Entertainer" Fun memories! Thanks!

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, oh neat, I’d love to hear if Lou has any fun memories of his time as a Good Humor man! Sounds like it was only a few years after David W’s father’s years with Good Humor. I’m sure that during the Depression, and even post WWII, selling ice cream was a steady job that most folks would have been very happy to get.

Mike Cozart, I am very surprised that you hadn’t heard of Good Humor until so relatively recently! We used to have a Good Humor truck come through our neighborhood in Huntington Beach, I remember I liked a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar especially. I’ll be curious to see if David W. has heard of “Foot Bowl”!!

Jonathan, I am not familiar with that Jack Carson movie, sadly. I don’t personally remember the Helms Bakery man, but know of them. In Culver City there is still a huge neon sign above the old Helms Bakery, and I have the card that my mom had in her window so that the Helms truck driver knew to stop in front of her house, I’ll have to share it here someday. Molasses cookies, yum.

TokyoMagic!, I have tried to find out where that Good Humor building was, and can find NO record of it. Maybe somebody else will have better luck. I think that gizmo on the front of the truck might be the speaker for the music? As for the mystery sentence (…”kets”), I can only speculate. Thanks for the link to the Little Golden Book!

Stu29573, I wonder if those old trucks had refrigeration units in them, or if they were just well insulated, like an Igloo cooler? Maybe they didn’t want to haul around too much product so that it wouldn’t melt. I remember my sister always bought bubble gum (in these very long “strings”) from the ice cream truck, which I thought was weird. You can get bubble gum at any store, but this guy has ice cream!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I have also have one of those Helms Bakery window signs. It belonged to a friend's mom, and he gave it to me about 20 years ago. I put it in my window, but nothing ever happened. ;-)

There is an ice cream truck that cruises down my street almost daily. It plays, "Happy Birthday To You," "Silent Night," and "Easter Parade." It's weird hearing "Silent Night" playing in the summer months!

As a kid, I remember buying Wacky Packages from the ice cream man, and also those tiny plastic fruits, filled with flavored powder. I guess I wasn't always interested in buying ice cream from the ice cream man, either!

I forgot to mention that Long Beach still has a lot of apartments similar to the one in that photo. My great-grandmother lived in one on First Street (near Cherry Avenue) in the early 1970s. The apartments were very small and just had a bathroom, kitchen, and living room (with a Murphy bed that came down out of the wall). The building she lived in is still standing. I wonder if the one in David's photo could still exist?

zach said...

Great photos today, thanks David W! I was an Ice Cream Man, too! For a couple of weeks decades ago, but not Good Humor. The freezer was well insulated and full of dry ice. Nothing ever melted.

I hope Lou took photos while on his 'route'.

We had a bakery truck in my neighborhood, too, growing up. Yeah, I still remember the bakery smell when he rolled out the trays.

Maybe it says 'Please check your muskets'? And what is 50 cents on the sign above?

Some of the train Conductors my dad worked with had coin dispensers like David W's Dad when selling tickets. My Dad just had a jingly, bulging pocket full of small change, the sound I remember today. For you younguns, silver coins had a much different, pleasing sound than the coins of today.

Thanks so much, David W and Major


JG said...

David, thank you for sharing these pictures and the stories behind them!

Southern California was a good place to find work in those years.

I love the cars and the old buildings that just define Los Angeles of that era to me.

Good Humor was a byword for ice cream, but I can’t recall ever buying any or even seeing it around where I lived. My ice cream memories are mostly buying a “Drumstick” from the campground store in Kings Canyon while camping.

As a kid, I lived out in the country on our farm, miles from town. The Helms Bakery truck came out for a few years, but stopped around my high school years. I remember standing in the driveway with Mom looking at the goods on the rollout racks.

Thanks, David, Major and everyone for the great stories.


Nanook said...

What a treat seeing these images. "... with his hat pushed back on his head". What a rebel-! (There's always one in the group).

I'm thinking the car on the far left is a 1938 Chrysler. The Good Humor truck does appear to be a 1934-36 International - with custom two-piece windshield, and front bumper - and the freezer compartment, of course. The car behind the truck remains a mystery to me.

I would bet dollars to doughnuts those trucks lacked any sort of mechanical refrigeration and instead used dry ice to keep the ice cream from melting. It would be far too costly, take up too much space, and may have been unfeasible to use with the existing 1930's 'automotive technology'. (I'm fairly certain the "newer" ice cream trucks in the 1950's & 1960's employed dry ice as their source of 'cold').

@ JC Shannon-
Of course I remember the Helms Bakery trucks, with their custom cabinetry, containing pull-put drawers - of seemingly impossible length - loaded with baked 'delectable delights'. And I enjoyed TONS of Good Humor Ice Cream over the years - naturally-!

David W. - thanks so much for sharing these images.

DrGoat said...

Great photos and story. We didn't have Good Humor in Tucson, but we had all heard the name on TV and newspapers I think. The local Shamrock Dairy had the market cornered on ice cream trucks back in the 50s-60s. They also delivered Milk at 5am in those glass bottles. That distinctive tinkling would wake me up occasionally. Rainbow bakery was the local bread co. that would deliver bread, donuts etc. I miss so much about those times. Especially the little market on the corner 2 blocks away. Owned by this Chinese family. They had all the goodies, comics and soda pop plus a small grocery section and deli type area. They always had this huge wheel of longhorn cheese. Mom would send me down to pick up a lb. or 2 every week.
Your Dad looks so good next to his truck. Such classic photos. Your pics and story really have me wandering back to my childhood in the 50s. After the war, Dad went into the post office and stayed there for 30 years. With a pension to boot. Imagine that.
Love the architecture of that period TM. I'm not sure what you would call it. A little fantasy mixed with art deco. Take me back Peabody, after you pick up Chuck. Hope that little place is still standing.
Thanks again David. Wonderful post. Good memories of a time past.
Tommorowland pics? Anytime.
Thank you Major. Couldn't be better.

Kathy! said...

Zach, I focused on those coin dispenser belts too. I've only seen them in movies and TV. I've also only got Good Humor from the grocery store, but not for a long time. I remember the strawberry bars with little crunchies on the outside and a filling. I wonder why a few of the men have their coats closed in the opposite direction. Could the picture on the side of the truck have been hand painted? They all look genuinely happy, what a fun job. Thank you, Major and David!

Irene said...

Being a "baby boomer", having been born in 1948, I remember all these deliveries - Helms Bakery, Good Humor (strawberry shortcake was also my favorite) and also milk and eggs. Not sure when in the 50's all this gradually stopped but do remember Thursday was grocery shopping days with my Mom at the Ralphs on Manchester west of us and close to Inglewood. Thursdays was when the sales changed each week. My Mom had her "days" set - Monday was wash day and Tuesday was ironing day and Thursday was grocery shopping. Can't remember what other days were for. We also had the same thing to eat on certain days - Saturdays were a favorite for me because we had hamburgers. Friday was fish and chips even though we had no religious reason to do that and Monday was spaghetti.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for the comments & thanks Major for posting the pictures on GDB.

Major- When I worked at Disneyland, it was actually in the late 1970s/early 80s- I was only about a decade old in the late 1960s... ;)

"Lou and Sue"- That's neat that your dad also worked for Good Humor. I recall hearing that the company paid good money for the time.

MIKE COZART- Sorry, but I'm not familiar with the Tomorrowland FOOT BOWl event.

JC Shannon- There was a neighbor years ago that was a Helms Bakery Man and also a friend of my parents that was also employed by the company. I do remember their distinctive trucks.

TokyoMagic!- I tried to get more information on the locations of the photos, but no luck. In a couple of the pictures there are numbers on the buildings & sometimes on Google Maps, you can find things with just the number & city (no street name), but again, no results.

Stu29573- Yes the trucks were small & pretty basic. I did see in some pictures that there was a roof over
the cab- it may have been removable.

zach- That's great you can add Ice Cream Man to your resume ;). I'm okay with 'Check your Muskets'- it was a different time. Unfortunately we may never know what was 50 cents.

JG- I agree about the cars & buildings defining the era- where's that time machine?

Nanook- Thanks for the car ID & agreement on the truck ID. I seem to recall reading about dry ice being used for refrigeration.

DrGoat- I also remember the Milk Man & the glass bottles. My dad also worked at a post office for short time. As you said- "Good memories of a time past".

Kathy!- Thanks for pointing out the difference in the coats, I had not noticed that- maybe the 2 guys didn't get the memo? Looking at their faces, there seems to be a lot of characters in the group- you can almost hear them talking & joking as the photo is being taken. For the time period, it could be a possibility that the graphics were painted.

Irene- Yes a lot of memories. I recall when growing up, my parents had a set schedule of meals & activities during the week.


Sunday Night said...

The Library of Congress Telephone Directory collection has a copy of the 1939 Long Beach California directory. It lists "Good Humor Ice Cream Co. Inc." at 1601 W. 15th St. Looking at Google Maps it appears that the original building is long gone (or maybe it's hiding behind the current building facade?),0.322,0.414,0.254,0

Thanks for these great pictures!

Nanook said...

@ Sunday Night-
I think you hit the nail right on the head. Admittedly, utility poles are everywhere - especially in commercial areas. But it certainly seems as if the utility poles we see IN THIS IMAGE, are in the same area as those we see running behind the image from the 1940's. I'm betting the original Good Humor building was located where the Walters Wholesale Electric building now resides.


JG said...

Sunday Night, that is some wild research!

The current 1601 building is all modern construction, not much chance of anything surviving there.

I’ve heard that google earth can show long past images of places where available but I don’t know how to do it. I’ll ask around.


Melissa said...

Wow, what treasures! Thanks to David and Major P. for sharing them!

I’ve never lived in a place that was visited by ice cream trucks; the first one I ever saw was on a visit to London.

Sunday Night said...

Nanook - I thought the same thing about the power lines. Did you notice the windmill in the distance? A holdout from more rural days?

Irene said...

I couldn't resist going further back into that phone book to the W section where I found the Wawona Auto Inn and it was located at 1645 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach. Going to current day on Google Maps I do find something still there - a motel! But it looks nothing like the old one of course. The diner next door at 1653 is a parking lot and then there is a Winchell's Donuts on the corner but the address jumps to 1695. On the other side of the current motel is an old house that I'm guessing by the looks of it was probably around when our Good Humor photo was taken!

Sunday Night said...

Excellent digging Irene! Do you think it was named after 2 people like Walter and Wonda?

Nanook said...

@ Sunday Night-
I did notice that windmill-! So rustic.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sunday Night and Irene, that is some real super sleuthing! So it looks like the auto inn and the Good Humor building were located within the same numbered blocks on the map, looking from east to west. The Good Humor building was located just five blocks directly south of the auto inn.

Irene, thanks for posting the link to that phone book. My great-grandmother wasn't living in Long Beach yet, at that time. However, I did find her sister (my great, great aunt) in those listings! The four-plex building that she and her husband lived in is still standing and looks pretty nice, today!

JG said...

Wow. Irene, wow.

Tokyo, that is cool.


JG said...

Judging from the characteristic Roman brick stack-bond veneer, the Wawona motel got a make-over sometime in the 50’s, and hasn’t been loved much since.

The little cabins at the back of the property are almost certainly original, except the brick is applied like wallpaper, obviously an afterthought to keep them in theme with the new or heavily remodeled front.

Thanks everyone for all this work. So. Much. Fun.


Irene said...

Sunday Night - your comment made me laugh so much! (by the way, I loved WandaVision so much that a couple named Walter and Wonda aka WaWona makes perfect sense!!!)

TokyoMagic - I wasn't the one who posted the original link to the phone book, that was Sunday Night.

Anonymous said...

Just fantastic pics of a lifestyle not so long ago...and of SoCal in particular. Thanks for sharing! KS

TokyoMagic! said...

Sunday Night and Irene, ooops! I meant thank you Sunday Night for posting the link to the phone book and the info about the Good Humor buildings location, and thanks to Irene for doing the further research about the Wawona Auto Inn's location!

I love this kind of history!