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Vincent Manuel, 60, Contractor, Snow Cone Vendor

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I liked snow cones when I was young. The colors was beautiful and it tasted great. And in my mind, I look at the kids, I ain't seen none yet pass up snow cones and stuff like that. So I said ‘I'm gonna sell some.' Kids are all over the place. A lot of them ain't got nothin' to do. They're running around hot and for a few cents their mama can get them something cool and they like it, their mom like it, you gone did something to make the kids happy.

I do contracting work, and work slowed up in the job I had … and you know, I'm going to a second week without work, so you kind of, you know, revert back, go to what you know. I used to vend 24/7 with a truck and chips and candy, ice cream, snow cones and all of that. That's been almost 10 years. … I thought of bringing the snow cones out because it was so hot.

When income don't come or when you're not on a weekly job, you have to create income if you're gonna pay your bills. … If it's hot, get somebody water, ice cream, something cool. If it's cold, you're gonna want to fix them holes in the roof.

See this confection here's been around a long time. … In the back of your mind, a storehouse, you remember little things and you pull 'em out and apply 'em.

I got here yesterday evening after stopping 'round two, three different places. Because I saw a lot of women and … their kids in tow.

Where I'm sitting now, I find this to be just steady. It's not going to be dead. But you're not gonna be bum rushed. … I got some invites to three birthday parties.

I'm sittin' here, selling snow cones, but I will build you a house. …

[A young man approaches the stand and asks if the snow cones are free.]

Free? No. They're a dollar.

A dollar?

Yeah.

Why couldn't they have been like 50 cents?

They was, but that was when I started … 10 years ago. … They're a dollar now, or more anywhere else you go. You're not gonna get it cheaper anywhere. I can tell you that.

[The young man walks away.]

I don't know why almost-grown people still look for free. Why would you be damn near grown and like a child come up and ask if something free, when nothing in life is? I'm just telling you what life done taught me.
— as told to Sara Dabney Tisdale; photo by Ash Daniel

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