The Chronicle continues to look for people making a positive difference in our community. When we find such inspiring stories, we share them through our special Who We Are series of reports.
In Clatskanie, reporter Christine Menges found a 13-year-old who might very well inspire other teens across Columbia County.
Clatskanie residents may have heard the ice-cream truck theme jingle while sitting inside on a hot day in recent weeks, which might have compelled them to come outside and buy an ice cream.
And if they’ve done so, they already know the news: an ice cream truck is back in Clatskanie. But the truck is more of a car with a freezer. And the person handing out ice cream is a kid himself.
What brought this unconventional truck to town? Inspiration from a local teen.
How it started
A few weeks ago, Aiden Finke, 13, from Clatskanie, said he was sitting in his dad’s shop by the old car wash and was thinking that when he was younger, his favorite thing to do on summer days when he was sitting inside was listen to the ice cream truck pass by.
“And I was like, ‘Kids in Clatskanie have never experienced that,” Aiden said. “What if I gave them that experience?”
And that was how the idea came about to start up his own ice cream truck.
With the help of his mom, Clara Finke, Aiden went to city hall and got a food handler’s license as well as a business license in order to start the business, a process which only took a few days. When that was done, the Finkes went to the Walmart in Longview, Washington and bulk-bought a lot of ice cream.
The ice cream runs the gamut: drumsticks, Italian ice sherbet, fudge bars, popsicles, rock pops and ice cream sandwiches. Prices range from $1-$2. The truck also gives out water, which is free.
The entire start-up cost, from the licenses to the ice cream, was around $120, Aiden said.
Clara and Aiden keep their ice cream in a portable freezer they already owned in the back of their car. Clara finds music with the ice cream truck theme, originally called “Turkey in the Straw,” on YouTube and plays it through the car’s speakers as they amble around Clatskanie.
This was all done a few weeks ago, and since then, the ice cream “truck” has been on the road in Clatskanie on most days out of the week.
Clara will often post on the Facebook page Clatskanie Community Bulletin Board that the truck will be out that day in order to get more customers to show up. Customers will also post in the replies where they want the ice cream truck to go.
The meandering route
The route is a meandering ride throughout most of Clatskanie. Clara drives her son around town, starting up Nehalem street, turning onto Tichenor, and getting all the side streets in between. They then drive toward the apartment complex by Clatskanie Middle/High School and end at the neighborhood behind the school.
While number of customers can vary a lot depending on the day, Aiden said they can average between two to six, with the most number of customers they got at one stop being seven. Customers will typically be adults buying ice cream for kids, but customers have also been of all ages, Aiden said.
As far as plans for the future go, Aiden said he wants to do it again.
“I really want to do it more,” Aiden said. “This is just like a test year.”
His mom agreed, saying they have had a few things get in the way of their ice cream truck plans and that they started a little late in the year.
But the truck will be out for a few more weeks for any kid or kid-at-heart who wants to take part in a popular summer pastime.
If you know of someone, an agency or business, or a group, that is making a positive difference in our community and would like to see them featured in Who We Are, email details to email@example.com.