Hokey Pokey Snow Cones
The following column was written by the late Edie
Peden and published in the Oct. 2, 1996 edition of the
New Castle Weekly. Article courtesy Rosemarie Neville,
photo courtesy John Ioannoni.
Three generations ago, children waited anxiously
each summer evening for the familiar cry of "Hokey
Pokey Snow Ball!" This sound was accompanied by a
bell, and the crunching of large wooden wheels on
gravel roads. Johnny, of Italian heritage, his dark hair
barely showing above the wheels, pushed his cart
through the streets of New Castle.
The cart, painted white, had large wheels with
colorful spokes. On top was a chunk of ice and an ice
scraper. Paper cones sat alongside bottles of flavors,
their colors sparkling in the sun. Our mouths watered
as we watched him manually scrape the ice crystals,
throw them into a cone, then douse them with flavors.
Those of the modern generation walk into a store
and buy a "Water Ice". Missing is the excitement of
hearing the bell, running home to get a nickel or dime
and speeding out to catch the cart before it disappeared
from your street. Sounds like the J&J Ice
Cream truck? No comparison! Fifty years ago kids
didn't worry about autos as they skipped alongside the
cart. Boys clad in knickers volunteered to push for
awhile, hoping to get a free snow ball - then they
couldn't decide what flavor they wanted - orange?
peach? melon? strawberry? The flavors were all home
prepared by Johnny's wife, Rose, after a trip to Philadelphia
to buy the special syrup. The recipe was their
secret and there has never been one quite so flavorful.
For years children of all ages danced beside the
Hokey Pokey cart until John became ill and the cart
was pushed one last time into the shed alongside his
home. The bell was quiet and John was gone.
Time passed. A new generation. Rose remarried
and decided to resurrect the cart once more, but only
on her front lawn. The word went out! The Hokey
Pokey cart was back again with the original flavors.
And people from the city and suburbs drove in (just
across "The High Bridge") to buy a snow ball. Rose's
husband, Bill, would sit in his lawn chair and watch
while Rose carried on with her tradition. It wasn't long
before children realized that if you could get Rose
talking, she would keep pouring on the flavor until it
was very thick and delicious. Also, this new couple
acquired an electric ice scraper and each time they
misjudged the amount for a cone, some lucky neighborhood
youngster got a free sample.
But alas, as all good things end, so did the Hokey
Pokey era. Once again the bell became silent. But there
are those of us who will never buy a snow cone without
picturing that archaic cart, and hearing the nostalgic cry
of "Hokey Pokey Snow Ball!"