Icebox Days

Written by: Roy Jerden

A seething summer morning in the oil boom trailer park
Oral Roberts on the radio with the gospel told by Mark
The reek of raw petroleum is everywhere around
We little oil trash urchins play marbles on the ground

He drives out here most every day around the hour of nine
Checking all the trailer windows for a little cardboard sign
He parks the canvas-covered truck and dons his leather vest
Throws a tow sack o'er his back and shows his Sunday best

Down the drive comes Danny, on his mighty motor bike
Hanging on the handlebars, his bigger brother Mike
The engine makes a ton of noise, a dandy double stroke
Two baseball cards and clothespins, hitting every spoke

Our ragamuffin gang was gathered, just waiting for the time
To contrive our evil strategy and carry out our crime
“The iceman, the iceman!”, I hear my sisters say
“Y'all be quiet!”, I hiss to them,” You'll give us all away!”

The iceman sidles round the truck and casts the canvas back
Scores a hundred-pounder block and cleaves it with a whack
Tongs the icy burden to his back and laughs at what is left
Chunks and chips of frozen jewels, the targets of our theft

We want so hard to play it cool and act like we don't care
All our mouths fill up with drool and it's tricky not to stare
The iceman winks his eye at me and hides a little grin
Then walks up to the trailer door where mother lets him in

The moment that the door slams shut, the bandits make their play
With eyes lit up, we whoop and shout like kids on holiday
We suck up all the chunks and chips and with our bellies iced
We swagger off to brag about our frosty jewelry heist

It's true we didn't have a lot, perhaps enough to just scrape by
But the visit from the iceman was like Christmas in July
And when I pass through oilfield country, it never ceases to amaze
How the scent of raw petroleum brings back those icebox days


See "About this poem" above the title for the notes and references