My guy Pat Fenton with a tremendous piece on his brother, “The Ice Cream Man.”


His drinking days were over now. They neared their end one night after he took a severe beating when someone followed him home and robbed him when he was drunk. When the eye swelling went down, he put on the last suit he owned and went looking for a job. He didn’t get it.


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  1. Al says:

    Beautiful article. My older brother had a very similar experience and I remember how incredibly difficult it was for him to start over, later in life. Fortunately, his children were grown up and on their own by that time. It took all he had to reach inside of himself and bear up with a lower status, lower paying job while dealing with depression from having the rug pulled out from under him. When I was a boy, our next door neighbor experienced this hell when Studebaker went out of business and he lost his good-paying union job in his 50’s. He had to to take a job behind the cold cut counter at Bodner’s grocery store, on 7th avenue and 16th street just to provide for his family.

    “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
    Ernest Hemingway

    Some men (women) possess the fortitude to reinvent themselves, some don’t. Families suffer from the ripple effect.

  2. Al says:

    Correction: Bodner’s was on the corner of 7th avenue and 14th street.

    Anyone who has gone through such a job loss knows what a profound reset this seminal moment is in their life. The changes and adjustment required are wrenching and enormous. I’ll never forget the pained, halting words of my brother, when he called me the day after he lost his job: “Al, when I heard the news, my legs buckled. I felt like I was gut-punched by Mike Tyson.”

  3. Gerard clifford says:

    Wise words Al. Especially when there at the end of their career.I find since the economic collapse in 2008 it’s become a regular practice for companies to get rid of employees with the most seniority. I can relate to how your brother felt. And all too often some of my best friends after Almost 30 years on the job suddenly are laid off. The older you are the harder it is to reinvent yourself.people tend to be creatures of habit. Gota hang in there and go for the ride. Even if it is pretty bumpy.

  4. Al says:

    Steve, love the photo! I met a guy in my area several years ago who had the same truck, only in pristine condition–not beat up like the one in the photo. He dresses up in the authentic, spotless, white Good Humor uniform, replete with cap and metal coin changer on his belt. He makes a really good buck being hired for a nostalgic touch at country clubs, parties, corporate events, etc. Once there, he serves ice cream from his fully stocked freezer and always sells out quickly. He said he’s been photographed by crowding oglers more than the Eiffel Tower. Nice second gig!

  5. celtic7 says:

    Thanks, Red
    A typically poignant article by Pat

  6. Pat Fenton says:

    Al, thanks for your kind words for the Newsday piece about my brother Andrew. Few people know what it’s like to go through what he went through–and to survive. It’s like the Willy Nelson song lyrics that go: “it’s been rough and rocky traveling, but I finally got my feet back on the ground. And after taking several readings, I find that my mind is still fairly sound..”

  7. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    I love your writing, Pat…but this story is my favorite….

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