Ice cream truck driver gives the scoop on her job

By Lydia Goerner | Jul 11, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Terry Roberge stops for a group of cousins at Swift's Beach who wait for her truck every day.

“Hey! Stop! Wait! Ice cream!”

That's what 69-year-old Terry Roberge has heard daily for seven years at her job as a driver for Perry’s Last Stand.

Roberge controls the music, blaring “Turkey in the Straw” through neighborhoods and beaches for eight hours a day. She can ring the truck’s bell and turn on the flashing light on top of the truck, and most of all, she satisfies Wareham's sweet tooth.

The retiree said the best part of her job is making people happy. That, and being “nosy all across town,” as her daughter puts it. Roberge has worked the truck at wedding rehearsals, served a bachelorette party and even worked at a memorial service for a woman who ate ice cream “every day of the year.”

But Roberge prefers her daily route around Wareham and Onset. She regularly serves landscapers, people working on hot roofs who have popsicles thrown up to them, senior citizens, mechanics and children who love to dance to the truck’s music. When she parks at the beach, she is careful to plant the truck near tufts of grass in the sand so people can stand there and protect their feet from the hot sand.

Perry’s Last Stand in Wareham has around 18 ice cream trucks and 30 drivers, Roberge said. The trucks operate from April to September, driven by people of all ages, though Roberge is the oldest driver. On an average summer day, Roberge rakes in from $300 to $400 in ice cream sales.

During Tuesday’s drive, a group of 10 cousins at Swift’s Beach ran up to the ice cream truck and formed a line, shelling out $40.

“They wait for this ice cream truck every day,” said Mary Ellen McDonough, who supervised the cousins as they picked out their treats. “As soon as lunch ends, they’re waiting for the truck.”

Another stop was A&M Auto in Onset for mechanic Kurt Soudo. Roberge said she stops there every day, sometimes twice a day.

“I’m a constant customer,” Soudo said. He ordered his favorite, cookies and cream ice cream and tipped Roberge.

Every season, Roberge sees familiar customers growing up, and they start to look for her too.

“They ask about me if they haven’t seen me,” Roberge said. “They say, ‘Did you run off and get married or something?’”

When an ice cream treat breaks in the package, Roberge saves it to give to children who can’t afford to buy ice cream.

While the Snow Cone is the most popular treat offered by Perry’s Last Stand, Roberge said the ice cream for dogs is also a hit.

“Once a woman saw it and said seriously, ‘Dog ice cream? You have dogs make the ice cream?’” Roberge recalled. A little boy told her woefully, “Poor old Curtis, he’s not going to get any ice cream this summer because he died last winter.”

In addition to the affection of regular customers, Roberge receives food in return for her ice cream treats. She has gotten bacon-wrapped shrimp, hamburgers and mussels from customers.

Though the speedometer on the truck is broken, causing it to always look like Roberge is driving 100 miles per hour, and she has been rear-ended by another driver during her route, she hasn't slowed down.

“I want to keep doing this until they take my license away,” Roberge said.

A group of children perform "the ice cream dance," a routine Roberge said she sees frequently when the ice cream truck's "Turkey in the Straw" plays. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
At 69, Roberge said she has no plans of stopping her 9 to 5 job as an ice cream truck driver. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Cole Kottmann, age 4, enjoys an ice cream on his vacation in Onset. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Jillian Leuis, age 8, snacks on a Spongebob Squarepants-shaped ice cream snack. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Erique French orders cold treats for his friends. Roberge said about half of her customers are adults. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Kurt Soudo of A&M Auto peeks into the truck as he orders his daily treat. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Roberge has been driving her truck since 2010. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Perry's Last Stand offers an array of cold snacks to choose from, but Roberge said the Snow Cone is the most popular. (Photo by: Lydia Goerner)
Comments (3)
Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jul 11, 2017 22:04

The world's only 100 MPH ice cream truck driver!  Hahahaha!  Rock on, Terry!



Posted by: bob | Jul 12, 2017 10:20

Gee,change the name on the ice cream truck from PERRY to TERRY LAST STAND....



Posted by: Linda | Jul 13, 2017 12:15

AND TERRY WAS AN AWESOME HAIRDRESSER, TOO!  THIS JOB IS GREAT FOR SOMEONE WITH A PERSONALITY LIKE HERS!



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