Turkey in the Straw, Truck in the Ditch

28 Jun

I recently read a Twitter thread about ice cream trucks and immediately flashed back to a day in 1992.

I was living on a finca on the Loma del Chocho, in the hills above Envigado, Colombia. At night, from inside the gate – and a gate was a safety requirement – I could see the lights of Pablo Escobar’s former prison, El Catedral.

It was a warm day and I was sitting in the shade in the backyard, reading or napping. I was in that dreamy state when the world around me had receded and was lost in thought or in my book. In the distance, I could hear the music of an ice cream truck coming down the hill, heading into Envigado. It was a frequent sound that mingled in the background of a day full of other sounds – cars on the road, birds, neighbors dogs.

I registered that the sound of the ice cream truck was getting louder, coming closer to the house. I started paying closer attention because it seemed that the tune the truck was playing was Turkey in the Straw. It struck me as an odd tune given the fact that I was in South America. It was a tune incongruous with my environment.

In my memory – and we know how memory can be faulty – I noticed that the speed of the song seemed to be speeding up. As it got faster, I also noticed that the sound of the tires on the road seemed to be getting faster too. I sat up a little straighter.

Then I heard the crash.

Our road wound down from the top of a hill. Halfway into Envigado, it veered left, past a gully, where gallinazos (buzzards) gathered. And that is where the ice cream truck ended its run.

I don’t recall what, if anything, I did afterwards. But anytime I hear Turkey in the Straw or see an ice cream truck, I am drawn back to that warm day.

8 Responses to “Turkey in the Straw, Truck in the Ditch”

  1. nancyrsantucci June 28, 2022 at 6:14 am #

    My take away is your comment on memory. Yes, it can be extremely faulty, esp. as we age. I also believe memory is biased.

  2. vivian chen June 28, 2022 at 6:16 am #

    I was not expecting that ending! I’m glad your post was my first stop of the morning. I feel more inspired to write. Thank you!

  3. Diane Cherry June 28, 2022 at 6:31 am #

    😊 Hope you are recovering from your final days of the school year! It seemed like you were a little stressed. We are in the final days of getting ready for Nathan and Andie’s wedding on Sunday. Getting excited too. Next week I send an email to you and Lois to see if we can schedule lunch. Lois said she would love to. Diane

    Sent from Diane’s iPhone


  4. Diane Anderson (newtreemom) June 28, 2022 at 6:49 am #

    An unexpected story… but also kind of familiar. I lived in Panama and Peru, and things out of context were the norm. A store named “Sidney’s”- you had to do a double take, because the script on the sign looked just like the signature “Disney” trademark… just one example.

  5. Trish June 28, 2022 at 7:07 am #

    You have put me there! The sounds of the Colombian countryside with the dissonance of a gringo tune in that place make this slice shine. (I experienced my first intense earthquake in Colombia outside Popayan, 1983.) Happy Summer!

  6. arjeha June 28, 2022 at 7:17 am #

    An unexpected twist to your story. When I think of ice cream trucks I recall Mr. Softee and a soft swirl ice cream at the end of it.

  7. kimhaynesjohnson June 28, 2022 at 8:47 am #

    Oh, what a treat! I’m sorry about the ice cream truck, but what a unique form of symbolism this could be in a novel, taken from real life. The crashing of an ice cream truck. Oh, my. My thoughts are wandering back to the innocence of childhood and the dream of ice cream….and hearing banjo music pick up the pace. This is delightful.


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