Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Ice Cream Man Cometh

I called Bernie Scheffler the other day to ask him what his big plans were for the last weekend before Election Day.

"Steve," he said. "I'm renting an ice cream truck."


So Saturday was spent meeting the voters of District 9 and handing out free ice cream from the window of a 1973 vintage ice cream truck covered with campaign signs and shoe polish. I can't think of a better way to wrap up a campaign, and I can't think of a better way to sum up the kind of guy Bernie is.

So my daughter and I met Bernie and his wife, Victoria, and Pete and Jenna up at the Rahr Brewery where hundreds of people gather every Saturday for free samples of their fine beer. We answered questions, shook hands and handed out ice cream and Vote Bernie postcards.

One of the Harley riding guys asked Bernie why he was running. Bernie told him that he wants to make a difference and he believes that government is too important to leave to the politicians and consultants. We need some real people in government.

"You are EXACTLY the kind of person he need more of in government!" the biker said as he walked off with his girlfriend. "I can vote for you."

During a lull, Bernie sat in the back of the truck and put his hand on the freezer. "You know, my granddad used to drive an ice cream truck," he said. "Both he and my dad had a lot of different jobs. You know, they'd do something for a little while and then do something different." Bernie looked around the inside of the truck that looked every second of its 34 years. "I gotta say, I wouldn't mind doing this. I mean, what could be better than handing out ice cream to kids?"

A little later, we made our way back into the brewery to shake a few more hands before leaving. A man holding a bag of Chex Mix stopped us and asked a question. "Why do you oppose gas drilling?"

Bernie carefully explained his position to the man. "I don't oppose all gas drilling, I just don't think it should be done in our neighborhoods," he said. "There's one proposed drilling site that is four blocks from an elementary school. I'm not OK with that. There are lots of open spaces away homes, schools and parks in Fort Worth. If there is going to be drilling, let's use those."

"That's a good answer," the man with the Chex Mix said. "You sound like the kind of guy I could vote for."

And so it went. Bernie Scheffler, winning over one voter at a time.

As the brewery closed down, we packed up and took the show on the road. Bernie and Victoria drove with the truck through Fairmount and Ryan Place with "Home On The Range" blaring through the loudspeaker. They stopped every block or so, shaking hands and offering free ice cream and postcards. Based on the kids' reactions, you would have thought he was handing out gold bars and not ice cream. "Vote Bernie!" one kid yelled as we drove off.

So did Bernie win over some new voters on Saturday? A few. The ratio of votes earned to ice creams handed out was nowhere near one, but you can't put a number on the feeling of satisfaction you get from giving away ice cream on beautiful, clear fall day. That is a feeling of true accomplishment.

As Bernie and Victoria finished up their ride in the long shadows of late afternoon, they stopped a few houses down from their where they live to hand out ice cream to their neighbors. "Hey!" said one guy who was wearing a Cowboys jersey and walking with crutches. "Get a picture of me shaking Bernie's hand."

So who am I to argue?

"Bernie is the best neighbor a guy could have," the guy said. "I can't wait to vote for him on Tuesday."

I hope there are a lot of people who feel the same way.


Suzette said...

What a guy! I can't wait until Fort Worth gets a real good scoop of Bernie. It is going to the so great! Please make an online donation to his campaign at he could sure use some more gas money, yard signs and posters so please send him a few bucks today while there's still time.

Juniper said...

Too bad there's not a "creativity" city campaign....Bernie would win. I think it says a lot about the creativity he would bring to the council and solving city problems...

TXsharon said...

I wish Wise County had a Bernie. <-sigh-> But, I'm glad FW has Bernie and I hope the voters are smart enough to see how much FW needs him, his talent and integrity.