As far back as I remember, my grandmother (aka Gorney — who will be 99 years old this March — she is pure greatness!) has always used the phrase “Too Bad Judy Ann.” My parents always have said it. I even find myself saying it to my children. And now, they say it too. (If you want to laugh, I highly recommend you click the link below.)
But what does it mean?
Basically, it translates to: you’re shit out of luck (or SOL in today’s “texting” terms).
But where did it come from? Was this something other families say? Or is this just another quirk of our family?
And so the story goes…
When my father was 17 years old, a friend hooked him up with a part-time job driving a “Judy Ann Ice Cream Truck.” The trucks were stick shift, with no power steering and despite not knowing how to drive a stick, my father took the job. His route was through the tree-lined streets of Levittown, NY, where children would eagerly await the sounds of the ringing bells that meant happiness was just a block or two away.
It was within the first four days of his job — where the arrangement was he would earn 30 cents on every dollar worth of ice cream sold — when a few small children appeared to the curb waving their hands summoning my father so they could purchase their beloved fudge bars or creamsicles.
Finally bringing the truck to a stop so the children could make their decadent choices, he went to the front window to see what the children wanted. As he tended to their needs, two teenage boys opened the back doors of the truck and helped themselves to whatever they could carry.
Running away, arms full of ice cream treats, they yelled to my father “Too Bad Judy Ann!!!!” Any profits from the day, and then some, slipped further and further away with each step the teenagers took.
That evening — the final day of his ice cream truck driving career — my father returned home to explain what had happened to his mother (Gorney) and younger sister, Jane.
From that day forward, “Too Bad Judy Ann” became a regular saying of our family — and still is more than 50 years later. We were sitting around the table recently and my father told the story again — I could listen to it again and again. Literally, my side hurt from laughing.
With that, I asked one of the most talented people I know (my good friend Dorothy) to help me capture the scene so I could make my father, aunt and grandmother coffee mugs for Christmas. As usual, Dorothy’s immense talent did not disappoint. She can do just about anything — email her if you have something in mind: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So the next time, you find yourself in a situation where all hope is lost (i.e. – the supermarket is out of your favorite snack, someone took the last cake pop at Starbucks, etc.)…there’s no need to swear — just tell yourself “Too Bad Judy Ann” and run like the wind laughing all the way home.
P.S. — if you see my father, ask him to tell you the story. It’s worth it!