Along about 1955-56, four little kids growing up in Columbia never knew that someday instead of playing with dolls and small play cars, they would be playing on a Gym Dandy swing set of their own.
Comic books were a fantasy novelty only a few kids had and probably read them over and over many times. My sister obtained a Superman comic book somehow as we didn’t have much money but never knew we were poor either. There on one of the pages was something called a contest and we all know that if you don’t enter you haven’t a chance to win. This particular contest asked that you enter a name for a White Polar Bear. My sister, Patricia, came up with the name ICEE and sent her entry in. Like most kids, we forgot about the contest and continued playing games and using our imagination to create fun.
Later that year, most likely summertime, a big truck pulled up in front of our house and the man came to our door asking if a Patricia Ann Matthews lived there. Lo and behold the name ICEE was chosen for the White Polar Bear. Patricia had won the contest. First prize was a Gym Dandy swing set and it was ours. Our mom said that she remembers signing for the swing set and cried with joy.
Our dad was in the Navy and wasn’t home when all this happened. Dad heard about it in a letter from mom and again from us when he came home and put it together for us. I don’t know how long we waited for our dad to get home but it was probably worth it. Patricia was our big sister at 9 years old then. I was the only boy, Johnny at 8, Ida Marie, 7 and Mary 2. We probably wore that swing set out many times over.
There may be others that remember that contest and we would like to hear from you. Could this name ICEE be the name given to the ICEE drink and the White Polar Bear we see still in stores today? We are not asking for any compensation but we would like to know. Memories like this will forever be one of the greatest moments in the hearts of 4 little kids.
The comic book and ad was found, purchased and will be given to our sister, Patricia for her 70th birthday celebration this Saturday, June 24.
John C. Matthews
Pictured: At right, Ida Marie age 10 with dad; center, Patricia age 12, Johnny age 11 on slide with Mary age 2. House was 1006 Taylor Street Columbia.