North Laine History

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The first ice cream I ever tasted was over 80 years ago and my father bought it from the Hokey Pokey Man, a dark-haired Italian who used to stand beside a brightly painted handcart outside the public house at the north end of Kensington Gardens.  There was a paved courtyard outside the closed door, with a recess into which he fitted his handcart. He sold only one variety, in little cardboard cups. It was cream in colour and tasted rather like frozen custard.

We just licked it - there were no refinements such as spoons. I do not remember what we did with the empty cup. I just remember the coldness and the deliciousness of the experience on a hot summer's day. The ice cream cups were lifted out of the cold recesses of the square box, into which I would peer to see the lumps of ice. The Hokey Pokey Man had only a small stock because freezing-time must have been limited. He used to push the handcart away into some unknown back street to replenish the stock.

The 'Stop Me and Buy One' Man

In my memory the reign of the Hokey Pokey Man was short-lived and he was succeeded by the 'Stop Me and Buy One' man selling triangular sticks of frozen fruit juice (with a choice of flavours) for Eldorado Ices. He travelled around on his pedal bike and I presumed that his pedalling fired the dynamo which kept the cabinet refrigerated.

But cream ices persisted, with the Gizzi Brothers opening their first Ice Cream Parlour later on...

[Previously published in the 'North Laine Runner', no.181, July/August 2006]

The Hokey Pokey Man

By Ruby Dunn

The Hokey Pokey Man stood with his handcart in Kensington Gardens