Snow cones and kids’ songs
June 21, 2007
Speed bumps buck Luis Leon’s snow cone truck as he drives down the main street of Safari Mobile Homes.
Syrups clack, and candies shake. Leon gets to the end of the street, turns up the volume on his nursery-rhyme CD, then parks.
Antonia, his mother, sticks her head out the back service window. She looks slowly side to side, as if she had been assigned to guard the truck.
Then they wait, and the songs play: “There were 10 in the bed, and the little one said, ‘Roll over, roll over.’ So they all rolled over and one fell out.”
It’s a sunny weekday afternoon. Children play on porches, bikes lie in front yards.
Leon puts on his sunglasses.
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He’s been going out at about the same time during the last few summers since he bought what used to be a mail truck.
He can see some children, but no one walks over.
The small voices on the disc chant through “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “Old McDonald.”
He said the songs usually get people excited, and “Sometimes, I get people dancing.”
After a few minutes, Antonia walks away from the window. Leon looks back at her and starts up the truck.
The truck goes back down the street.
But before they leave, Antonia stands up from her fold-out chair and calls to Leon.
He stops, they scramble – and four children stand under the window.
Antonia takes their orders without saying anything.
Leon molds crushed ice into Styrofoam cups.
Antonia pours flavored syrup on the cups and sticks them through the window.
One dollar each.
The rest of the afternoon, the truck stops at additions, apartments and other mobile home parks.
Leon also sells cotton candy and toys, but most kids order snow cones in lemon, lime, strawberry, vanilla.
Driving on Highway 50, he sees an ice cream truck and waves.
“He sells only ice cream,” Leon says. “He’s nice to me.”
Carson City didn’t have snow cone trucks before he started selling about 10 years ago, Leon said. Snow cones were popular where he grew up in Mexico City, so he thought they’d be popular here, too.
On the side of his truck, there’s a sign with yellow, red and blue snow cones and “Nieves,” the Spanish word for snow cones, below them.
He carries one flavor, tamarindo, especially for Hispanics.
“It’s a Mexican fruit,” Leon said. “It tastes good.”
Besides running the snow cone business, he also works construction.
He said he takes Saturdays off, though, so he can spend time with his three children.
He also takes a vacation every summer to Mexico, where he lived until he moved to Carson City 20 years ago.
“I like a small town better,” he said. “The big city … too much problems.”
His older brother moved to the city first and Leon followed him.
“He had friends living here from Mexico. He followed his friends,” Leon said.
Someday, Leon might expand his business, but he said he’s making a good profit with what he’s doing now.
Low cost, high profit. With a generator, cooler and ice machine, he said, there’s not too much else to buy.
Also, in the front of the truck, he keeps a rainbow-colored umbrella hat.
He said his children like to wear it when they ride along with him.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.
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