JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Bill Pollard: Today’s Nicest Man in the World

Sometimes, in the heat of sports and politics and greed and books and all, I tend to forget that this world is composed of good, decent, caring people.

Tonight, I met a dandy.

The family and I were driving through the town of Richmond Hill, Georgia—a town of a Publix, a bunch of hotels, a few restaurants and, as far as I could tell, little else. It’s a small, nondescript place; some beautiful houses and lakes, but otherwise a dot on the map alongside Interstate 95.

Anyhow, it was after dinner, and alongside a Chinese restaurant we saw a red glowing sign that read THE ICE CREAM STOP. As the wife, and both kids, know, I’m a sucker for ice cream. And, specifically, for out-of-the-way, independently owned ice cream shops. Hence, I pulled the car into the lot and my son and daughter dashed to the door. Regrettably, as soon as they reached for the handle, the lights went off. It was 8 o’clock on the nose—closing time. “Ooooohhhhh man,” I said to the tykes. “That is just horrible timing.”

Then—flash. The lights came on. A man inside waved for us to enter. This was our introduction to Bill Pollard, owner of The Ice Cream Stop. Bill immediately informed us that he never—never, ever, ever—closes if he sees kids waiting outside. He promptly took our orders—the son had Superman ice cream in a cup, the daughter had some sort of chocolate, I had a Banana Foster shake (and it was friggin’ fantastic!). As he scooped, Bill talked a bit about his life. A native Californian, he and his wife Gayle moved to Georgia three years ago to be near her mother. They opened the store shortly thereafter, and love seeing happy kids paired with large mounds of frozen goodness. Bill warmly asked my kids if they liked the ice cream, and insisted his was the best around. I have no doubt he was right.

I was later reminded of something that happened a few weeks ago to me, at a library in Southern California. The building closed at 5 pm, and at around 4:58 I was leaving—when I turned right (immediately before the exit) to use the bathroom. “I’m just gonna use that real quick,” I said to the librarian—who promptly insisted I leave. “No bathroom,” she said. “We’re closed.” I was flabbergasted, and irked, and annoyed (and really, really, really had to pee.). There are people like that woman, who see life as a job, and rules and rules.

And then there are people like Bill Pollard.

Who just wants you to love his ice cream.

PS: The Ice Cream Stop is located at 13300 Ga Hwy 144 in Richmond Hill. The ice cream was friggin’ awesome.