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Papa Joe Is The Good Humor Man

Hear that ding-a-ling-a ling in the distance? Yep, it’s for sure the Good Humor man and in Madison, Connecticut, he goes by the name of Papa Joe. For 22-years Papa Joe has been driving along the shoreline town in search of folks who’s like a cold treat. How could you resist 46 different ice cream choices? He’s hows up at outdoor antique shows, ball games, the beach, you name it.

His 1964 Ford truck is filled to the brim with goodies, and he loves his job and knows a ton of folks by their first names. This Grandfather is part of small town America, it’s reassuring that this kind of old-fashioned goodness is still around.

Once upon a time Papa Joe, whose real name is Joe Barbato, was a baseball player for the Detroit Tiger’s farm team, that was in the 1940’s. He batted against guys like Sandy Koufax back in the day.

He hones his athletic skills in high school. A thrill of a lifetime was being inducted into the Hillhouse High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. At Hillhouse in New Haven, Connecticut (class of 1948) he was all-state baseball and basketball all four years. His basketball team won four state championships in a row.

Joe went into ice cream, after baseball and owning and insurance company and now pitches screwballs and Italian ices at the masses who line up. Not only do you get a cold treat, but you’ll get conversation with Joe and you can say hello to his on board companion, a dog by the name of Hope.

Joe has a hood ornament on the truck which is a little mini version of the Good Humor vehicle, I have no idea where he got it, but I know there’s got to be a story behind that.

He loves the experience that people get when they come to the truck and survey the pictures of all the treats inside his freezer. You can imagine how this goes over at birthday parties and even weddings. He told me a story about a father of-the-bride who hired him to show up for dessert after he’d told all the guests at the wedding that he was fresh out of money, and there wouldn’t be any dessert. Then up drives Joe.

Joe has had quite a life, from minor league baseball, to owning an insurance company to embracing his identify as the Good Humor man. Look for him if you get to Madison in warmer weather, you’ll see him cruising around in his signature straw hat, hes got a million stories to tell you, and that’s free along with purchased ice cream.



































  1. Posted July 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Ann this is a great story! I love this guy! I grew up in Madison and always knew summer had arrived when you saw Joe’s truck around. I love the old vintage look and his smiling face. It brings ya back to a simpler time and reminds you how very lucky we are to live here! 🙂

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted July 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Rachel, thank you for reading, yesteryear just does something for me, maybe that’s the same with all generations.

  2. Papa Joe
    Posted July 9, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks Ann. You are the greatest. Papa Joe

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted July 9, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      No, you are for making life more enjoyable by just being around.

  3. Mrs. Toby Gluck
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I read your article about Papa Joe, the Good Humor ice cream man. I am trying to find him as I am having an “oldies” party and would love to have the famous truck come and bring ice cream dessert!!!!!

    Do you know how I can find him?? I live in Orange, CT. and have tried all over the internet without any luck. My email is: tobygluck@hotmail.com

    Please help….it would make my party!!!! Thank you very much, Toby Gluck

  4. Laurie
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi there, I have been looking for an ice cream truck that may go to local residents for parties. Do you know how I could reach this guy? If so, I would love to get a hold of him and have him show up at my daughters b-day party. Thanks for your help. Laurie