It’s a safe bet that in the coming weeks we’ll see Mother Nature give way from the cloudy, rainy, moderate temperatures that have been so merciful this spring. And, as in seasons past, we’ll witness the blast furnace we’ve come to know and expect in Texas as temperatures creep toward the century mark as summer begins.
Enter here a “summer saint” if you will. Someone that helps service the sweltering. She doesn’t wear a cape but she does have a pretty sweet ride that has become an icon to children - and the child in us.
For more than six years, Julie Turrell-Dawson has operated in the time-honored tradition as the lady who drives the ice cream truck. Only her mode of transportation is a mini-school bus, decorated with spots that mimic that of a Jersey cow. Her business, known as Juliebeans Ice Cream, has traversed the roads in Parker County and beyond, doling out a variety of cool, tasty treats.
“I often wondered if I could ever have a job and never retire?” Turrell-Dawson said she once thought. “I can do this until the day I die; it’s so fun.”
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Born and raised in Parker County, Turrell-Dawson said the seed was planted while she and her family were living in Seattle, several years before.
“I remember, on what seemed to be one of the rare days that the sun was shining, we took the kids to the park,” she said. “While we were there, two questionably looking vans pulled up that were literally swarmed by the children.”
She said much to her surprise they were selling ice cream.
“My kids had never seen an [ice cream truck] before and my daughter suggested we should move back to Weatherford and start an ice cream truck business ourselves,’” she said. “That’s what we did.”
After researching what she needed to do, she and her family moved back to Weatherford where business began.
Turrell-Dawson said she drives through the the streets of Parker County 12 months out of the year and she has grown a devoted following.
“My job is the only one I can think of where I can go to work and people will literally chase me down with money to give me and are happy about it,” Turrell-Dawson said. “There’s even been a few instances where I have missed a customer, driving past them, and they come chasing after me.
"When they catch me they aren’t angry. They’re just happy to get their ice cream.”
Most important to Turrell-Dawson is that parents feel safe to let their children approach her bus for the summertime treat.
“As a parent, I didn’t feel safe allowing my children to approach the ice cream trucks that day while living in Seattle,” Turrell-Dawson said. “Rest assured, if you see a mini-bus that has a cow print on it you’ll know who’s driving it.
"I’ve had numerous background checks, been fingerprinted and this is a family-owned business only, so anyone who works for us is going to be legit.”
Juliebeans Ice Cream sells more than six dozen pre-packaged ice cream products. She not only makes her way through the streets in Parker County but sells ice cream to business, schools, nursing homes, churches; and is available for a number of specialty occasions such as Vacation Bible Schools, block parties and the like.
Turrell-Dawson said that the desire for ice cream is the great equalizer and doesn’t discriminate between the young or old.
“I remember once when a little boy, about 3-years-old, who apparently been in the tub heard the music from our bus,” Turrell-Dawson recalled. “He jumped out of the tub and before his parent could catch him, ran down the driveway to us completely naked.”
Turrell-Dawson said you’re just as likely to see adults in line for her frozen treats, regardless of the temperature outside.
“This is a fun job,” she said. “I’m very blessed.”
Her customers love her, too.
“My children look so forward to the musical bus that often comes down our street,” Liane Jensen of Weatherford said. “It has become something they look forward to on the weekend.”
Jensen shared that on one particular Friday her kiddos had it in their heads that the "ice cream truck" was going to be at their house any time.
“They took blankets outside and a few toys so that they could wait for them to come and not chance missing them,” Jensen said. “It was a couple hours later, I thought it was so cute so I put on Facebook, ‘Juliebeans Ice Cream where are you - your regular customers are waiting.’”
Jensen said only minutes later they messaged her asking her where she lived.
‘We will be there in 10 minutes,’ Jensen said the message read.
“Long story short, they went out of their way for two kids,” Jensen added. “There are not many small businesses that would do this for only two children. This is the kind of business that communities such as Weatherford should be honored to support. Thank you Julibeans.”
Misty Dickey, also from Weatherford, said Juliebeans has brought so much happiness to her grandchildren.
“You were their first ice cream truck at their corner,” Dickey said. “Presley was so excited. She was three and now six. Since that day you have come to her and my grandsons birthday party ever since. We love you Juliebean.”
▪ According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American consumes almost 22 pounds of ice cream each year. In fact, U.S. ice cream companies made more than 872 million gallons of ice cream in 2014 alone.
Julie Turrell of Juliebeans Ice Cream can be reached at 254-466-6781 or on Facebook @Juliebeans