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Men in White: 1923

Men in White: 1923

Washington, D.C., circa 1923. "Fussell-Young Ice Cream Co. trucks." I scream, you scream, etc. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.


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A 92 year old still remembers!

My mom, who is now almost 93 and lives (alas, far away from Georgetown) in Maine, still talks about the ice cream at Fussell's. She was born in a house around the corner on P Street NW in 1920 and still compares all ice cream to what she remembers from Fussell's as a child.

The new Dodge trucks

Those trucks are Dodges, brand new, and they didn't come with a spare tire, only a spare rim. They are 1 tons so they can haul a heavy payload.

[These are, as noted below, Graham Brothers trucks. - Dave]

Just before the heist

"So these mugs will meet us at the back of the bank, right Boss?"


That driver moonlights as a graverobber.

Father of the Ice Cream Industry

Jacob Fussell is known as "father of the ice cream industry." A hundred years after it was founded in 1851, his company went through the first in a series of mergers and acquisitions that saw it taken over by Arden Farms Dairy, which had almost half a billion dollars in sales in 1962. Today the Arden Group owns the Gelson's supermarket chain in California.

Some Like it Cold

The photo reminds me of the movie "Some Like it Hot," in which a funeral home is the cover for a speakeasy. I think these guys were selling more than ice cream.

See Your Ice Cream Made

A cropped version of this photo appeared in the February 25, 1923 Washington Post. The caption states:

Graham Bros.' Trucks with Dodge Bros.' Power Plant.
Fleet of Trucks Delivered by Semmes Motor Company to Fussell-Young Ice Cream Company

See Your Ice Cream Made
Fussell's Real Cream Ice Cream,
Public Inspection Invited.

Christmas plans 1923

Ah yes, first stop off at the ice cream parlor and get some Fussell Young ice cream. Then next door to the billiard parlor for a buffet lunch.

And what would happen to their fleet of delivery trucks if one of them had a flat tire? Usually you see a couple tires stored on the fender, to mount on the rim in place of the tire that went flat. Here you see an extra rim with no tire there.

I'm also having trouble seeing how these trucks deliver ice cream during the months when ice cream is popular. It would be fine to cart around ice cream in open trucks when it was freezing. But aren't the hot months of July and August the best times to sell that stuff? Wouldn't ice melt just as fast as ice cream in August?

It is clear to see why Good Humor and Dolly Madison became household names, and Fussell's did not.

[America's first ice cream factory was founded by Jacob Fussell in 1851 in Baltimore. Fussell's expanded into a huge operation and was a very successful business for well over a century. Below, how the company's trucks looked after being equipped for delivery. - Dave]

Above Zero

The thermometer next to the window under that sign would be almost impossible to read.

Ice Squad

That's one sinister looking bunch of ice cream peddlers. The suits look like they're packing tommy guns under those pea coats and the drivers look like the muscle.

Location, location, location

The address on the sides of the trucks looks to be 1310 Wisconsin Avenue. Interesting that the trolley here didn't have the underground conduit but rather overhead lines. I thought nearly all the DC Transit lines used the conduit within the downtown areas.

[This is Georgetown, not downtown. Now the site of the Georgetown Inn. - Dave]

What are those?

Nice trucks! They must have been the newest adittions to the fleet, considering how shiny and new they still look. I wonder what make they are.

[Graham Brothers. - Dave]

Oh, relax

That's just Rondo Hatton at his day job.


Hey! That's my Uncle Luigi!

The Bad Humor Man

Mr. 32 looks to be a pint or three short of a load. Yikes.

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