Friday, July 21, 2017 This Week's Paper

Justice for Ice Cream Vendors

// Ice cream vendor loses livelihood with theft of truck

If you have ever had the misfortune of being robbed of something, be it a car, a purse, or anything of monetary or sentimental value, you know theft can quickly turn your world upside down, and recovering from the violation requires time and healing. Perhaps no one knows this feeling better than Laurie Meade, whose passion and joy over the past few years has been to provide sweet, frosty treats to the children and grownups of Tacoma as an ice cream truck driver. That is, until her ice cream truck was stolen lat last month.

Meade's commitment to her creamy craft was infectious to locals. She quickly gained street recognition and was dubbed "The Blue Jeans Ice Cream Lady." Meade's truck was easily identifiable, painted Michigan blue with a sparkling gold speaker on top, blasting upbeat music to entice people to stop by. For added flare, the ice cream ads on the side of the truck were painted to look like pockets.

On Dec. 26, Meade walked outside her home to discover a grim holiday surprise: Her three-wheel Cushman Scooter Ice Cream Truck had been stolen right out of her driveway.

"I couldn't believe someone stole my ice cream truck, on the day after Christmas, of all days. I was just shocked. I mean, what were they going to do with it? I instantly wondered what I was going to do without my truck. They had to work hard to take it because the battery was dead, so they probably had to tow it. That truck was my family's lifeline," recounted a teary-eyed Meade.

Meade, a proud single mother of three and currently on disability, was suddenly forced to think about other means for feeding her family and making ends meet, especially considering that her truck, purchased in 2008, represented a $6,000 investment.

"To me, it was more than just a vehicle. It was our lifeline, something to stretch our income. I suffer from depression, so when I got behind the wheel of my truck, it was like medicine for my soul. I loved being out there in the sun, and I also love the children," Meade said.

With the loss of her truck, the Meade family knows they will face tough times ahead, and the reality of just putting food on the table and paying the bills is quickly becoming a worrisome situation, to the extent of Meade losing sleep.

"I just don't know what we are going to do for the spring. Already, a lot of our stuff is in the pawn shop just so we can make it through winter. I just don't know how we are going to make it without ice cream sales. When I think about it, it just makes me sick. The guy who stole my truck stole much more than the monetary value of it. He stole my joy, appreciation, and love for what I was doing, not to mention the tool I needed to go out and do it on a daily basis to provide for my kids."

To learn more about Laurie Meade and her mission to find her ice cream truck, go to Adventures of the Ice Cream Lady.

Crime Stoppers of Tacoma/Pierce County is turning to the public for any information that may lead to finding Meade's ice cream truck. Call 1-800-222-TIPS to report any detail that might help.

Ice Cream Truck Benefit

On Feb. 6 at 7 p.m., Uncle Sam's Bar and Grill in Spanaway will hold a benefit to help Laurie Meade raise funds to replace her stolen ice cream truck. Come, bring your friends and spread the word. 16003 Pacific Ave. S., Spanaway WA 98387-8259.