"The Ice Cream Man" by Margaret Ramsey

Margaret Ramsey (b. 1932)
The Ice Cream Man
Oil on canvas
24 x 30 inches
Museum purchase; 1990.023

This naive style painting is a playful rendition of a specific memory of the artist. The artist recollects this memory in the following narrative:

The Ice Cream Man materialized out of scenes I observed while sitting on the front porch of my house at 308 East Mary Street in Dublin, Georgia. One of my neighbors, Annie Mae Gillis, passed out on her job at the sewing factory and died at age 39. She was a member of a large family (mostly country folk) who came together on the day of her funeral. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon and there were many adults and children on her porch, in front of her house, even spilling over into the street. The children were playing on their skateboards, riding bicycles, wrestling, playing with their puppies, and having fun.”
“The grown ups were shaking hands, laughing, talking, and hugging each other. The other neighbors were sitting on their porches watching the scenery and some of them, especially the children, no doubt wanted to join the bereaved family in their merriment. Then came along the ice cream man in his delightfully decorated truck. Musical chimes filled the air like those of an organ grinder. Many gathered around the Ice Cream Man and his truck to make their tasty purchases. A beautiful loving sight to be seen.”

The mood of the work is happy, playful, carefree, and is not indicative of the true reason why the people in the painting have gathered together. The children look in excitement at the ice cream truck and gravitate towards this vehicle of happiness that has come to remind us all of childhood.