The 'Babe Ruth' Of Ice Cream Gives The Scoop On His 71-Year Career The town of Peabody, Mass., calls him "The King of Cool." Allan Ganz reflects on how his father introduced him to the business, and the cherry on top of his lifelong career: meeting his wife.

The 'Babe Ruth' Of Ice Cream Gives The Scoop On His 71-Year Career

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OK. It's time now for StoryCorps. Every summer, for generations, the town of Peabody, Mass., has heard the sounds of "Yankee Doodle" coming from the ice cream truck of Allan Ganz. Over the years, he's watched his customers grow up and become parents and even grandparents. He came to StoryCorps with his wife, Rosalyn, to talk about how his dad got him started in the ice cream business more than 70 years ago.

ALLAN GANZ: I started riding with him when I was 10 years old. In those days, ice cream was a nickel and a dime. And the ice cream trucks were just pickup trucks. And they had chests built on the back, kept cold by dry ice. My father became known as the Jolly Man. And I was Jolly Jr. I got my license three days after I was 16. My father, he says, here, go on out, son. And I went out for business.

ROSALYN GANZ: I remember hearing the truck come, getting all excited.

A. GANZ: You used to come over to the ice cream truck with friends. They'd all buy ice cream. And I would kibitz for a few minutes. And then I'd have to move on. I had to be out selling ice cream because you have to make hay while the sun shines. But it was in the cards for us to end up together.

R. GANZ: Well, you were really, really cute - with hair.

A. GANZ: Thank you. You were 19 when we got married...

R. GANZ: Yeah.

A. GANZ: ...Remember? And I was 23. And I wanted to get my own truck.

R. GANZ: Remember, I said, you know what? Why don't you give me a lesson? Maybe I can help out here. And I did for a lot of years.

A. GANZ: You made me what I am today, you know? Broke.


A. GANZ: After 71 years of selling ice cream, they know I'm coming. Like Pavlov's theory, you ring the bell, they expect me. One day, I was out selling ice cream and somebody come running up, stopped me with a couple of little kids. And he was pointing to all the pictures on the ice cream truck. And he said, I used to get these screwballs off the Jolly Man. I says, see that picture over there? He looked up, and he saw a picture of my father in the truck. So it's history. And here I am.

R. GANZ: Ice cream is the great American pastime. It certainly made a big difference in our life.

A. GANZ: Yeah, you're right. And I don't want to sound big-headed, but ice cream has given me a name like a Ted Williams or a Babe Ruth or a Larry Bird. I have the same recognition here in Peabody. I can't go anywhere without being recognized. I'm known (laughter). I don't know what else to tell you. But it's been a great ride. The scoop is - I love the business.


KING: That was Allan Ganz and his wife, Rosalyn Ganz, remembering 71 years in the ice cream business. Their conversation will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And you can hear more on the StoryCorps podcast.


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