coming of age / History / Life / Writing

The Donut Truck

Its 4:00 pm

I talk to my brother Phil about 3-4 times a week. We talk about everything under the sun and we get a lot of bittersweet moments to reflect on. Every once in a while we travel back the road to where we used to live at – Ontario,Calif.
Now while we each have our own set of memories,we do have quite a few mutual ones as well. Phil was really young back then and life was really brutal as well. It was a hard place to grow up at,crime,drug abuse,poverty well embeddened in our neighborhood.
Every week we would hear about someone being locked up,overdosing or getting killed. Often it was someone we all knew and the gossip phone line would heat up with people talking about it until something new came down the line.
But not every memory was a bad one and as Phil and I were talking,I brought up The Donut Truck. Now there two things we always looked forward to seeing back in the day,the person who came by and sold us steaks,hamburgers and hotdogs that they had liberated from the meat packing plant and The Donut Truck.

The Donut Truck was called Helms Donuts and it was a old Chevy panel truck. It was a faded yellow and the name “Helms Donuts”had been spray painted on its side. It came by our barrio once or twice a week and instead of a gaggle of kids running after a ice cream truck,you would have seen us chase down the Donut Truck. Well unless you lived on our corner because if you did,you didn’t have to run,the owner,who I think was named Leon,would park right in front of our house.
The kids would start running the second they heard the truck and often or not we would have 30-40 kids and yep,adults all waiting to see what the Donut Truck had that day. My brothers Peter and Phil would always get candy while I wanted a creampuff.
My mother would buy fresh tortillas if Leon had any left. And there lay in the problem,while Leon often came to our area,he always came them last on his route.
More often or not by the time The Donut Truck got to us,it was pretty picked over and many times Leon only had what the rich people didn’t want. So while I may have wanted a creampuff,many times I left empty handed because it meant he didn’t have any donuts left either.

If you’re getting the idea that we were the last stop in his route,you would be right.
So while we the last stop,we also got discounts on fresh goods like whatever bread,donuts or even once in a blue moon,a creampuff. Leon would stay in front of our house for about 20-30 minutes before heading back home and doing it again the next day.
I don’t have a lot of good memories of our time in Ontario but that Donut Truck is definitely one of them.

What was one of your favorite memories growing up? Share it with us all by dropping a comment below.

9 thoughts on “The Donut Truck

  1. When the elder son of close friends of my parents decided he had outgrown his Star Wars toys, and the family wanted the space back that had been claimed by the toy Star Wars characters, and their space vehicles, they offered to let me have them all, which was lovely, as I was a few years younger than the boy who was no longer interested. All of a sudden, I had more than one stormtrooper figure, for example, when I had previously only had one armored Imperial soldier in my collection, when clearly in the Star Wars films there were scores of them. Among the most interesting, however, was a handmade wood living station that the boy’s dad had lovingly invented and constructed.

    Although it has been years and years, the space hotel added color to a child’s play. It was made of several rooms for the toy figures to occupy, and it was as if Star Wars stories in the imagination of a child now had a different spin. The homemade toy signified quarters where the more domestic of a rebel force’s lifestyle could center around what was a home for those toy characters.

    The DIY addition to the Star Wars universe was rectangular, and there were bunks and internal walls, all open to the sky for the access of a child handling toys in the make-believe rooms of the space hostel. I think I was probably amazed that such a nice gift had come my way, and perhaps reluctant to say too much about it, as I did not want our friends to regret giving away the object. Playing on the backyard patio with my comprehensive collection of Star Wars toy, centered around a station for the rebels to rest and recuperate, while fearing discovery by the Empire, was completely opulent for me and for the children of the neighborhood with who I had a bond.

    As for what you’ve written here, I am sympathetic to you for the trouble you endured with your brothers in the face of the criminal element around you, but I am glad that Helms Donuts was a bright spot for you, and that you are alive and blogging. Happy New Year, and thank you for the opportunity to recall a favorite memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, flashing… the donut truck came by our house on Tuesdays say between 9-10a. Of course I was at school but if I was home during the summer or holiday breaks, I too wanted a cream puff, if none were available it was the biggest glaze donut in his long drawers( that seemed to come pull out like 10’). From time to time my Mom would call my sister Norma who was your Neighbor and tell her there was a fresh pie or only 2 Creme puffs😎 Thanks for sharing Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norma would come over and chat with my mom while Anthony would get his treat along with Phil and Peter and the rest of the kids. The truck always came later in the afternoon for us. Those creampuffs were so good!


  3. My brother and I didn’t get along a lot of the time (cliche, I know) so it felt special on New Years Day sometimes when he’d watch the Twilight Zone marathon with me for several hours. And we often watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Christmas Eve, and the older we got, the more nostalgic we became over that bad ’60s stop motion Christmas “animation.” To this day it has a special place in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hard to beat the Donut Truck story but I still remember being trusted to travel “downtown” to the market area by myself. My parents were overly protective so being able to get on a bus and pay the 25 cent fare to shop by myself was a real treat. I came home with a music LP and some comics…and very happy.

    Liked by 1 person

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