My Celebrity Encounter at an Ice Cream Shop in Phoenixville
We all have our vices. Me? I like my sweets. I like to indulge in a smooth cup of gelato or a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I don’t have a favorite ice cream shop because I haven’t been to one I didn’t like. This past summer, I visited Petrucci’s in Phoenixville, PA, which was a quaint ice cream shop along Nutt Road. I said “was” because the store recently announced that it no longer will reside at that location. Amongst the uproar of sad community members, it took me back to a memory I had at the sweet destination in Summer 2023. A memory that consists of meeting an iconic bully.
Nothing beats a local ice cream shop. The tinge of fluorescent lighting and cheesy decor have a distinct memory-triggering effect. Whether you remember begging your parents for a cone or asking someone on a first date, the ice cream parlor is a classic summertime tradition.
Even celebrities find themselves amongst the crowd of people waiting for their sugary fix.
I live in the “Greater” Philadelphia area, which means I am part of the population that says we’re “from Philly.” Although, we Greater-Philadelphians could reside an hour north of Rittenhouse Square. The forgettable borough names have tons of small businesses and unique restaurants. This particular ice cream joint was near my house. It had a can’t-miss pink roof and punch cards for rewards.
At the time, I was just standing in line. I observed my surroundings. Kids were playing along the building, people chatting on the benches, and a particular man and woman approaching the line. The man looked familiar.
He stood tall, had a full head of grey hair, and a voice like a radio announcer. Not too long after standing in line, a few more people greeted him. I briefly made eye contact and immediately began connecting the dots.
My internal monologue started to sort through the old, dusty filing cabinets.
“Where have I seen this guy?”
“Is he a politician?”
“Is he a local broadcaster?”
“Maybe a lead guitarist in a classic rock band?”
“My Great Uncle, that I forgot about?”
My thoughts ran wild. Then it hit me.
That’s Biff from Back to the Future! It had to be. He’s one distinct-looking guy.
He was talking with his companions, which I later found out was his family. Then, he noticed me looking back and started making small talk.
He was electric! He was rattling off quips, saying how great the ice cream is at this place, and then focused his attention on me.
Biff to me – “What are you getting? I’m not paying for it, you gotta make something of yourself!”
After some jokes, I looked over and asked, “Has anyone ever told you…”
He cut me off and said, “Don’t say it! I’m better looking than that guy!”
At this point, I was doubting myself — until he said he was visiting from California.
Seriously? C’mon. It had to be him. He knew exactly what I was going to ask.
After ordering, we said goodbye, and I entered investigation mode. You know millennials, we can find our way around the web like the CIA.
The actor’s real name is Thomas F. Wilson, and he grew up outside Philadelphia.
Upon further research, his family lives in Phoenixville. He must have been visiting relatives.
At the time, I didn’t ask for a picture because I didn’t want to draw attention to him and his family. I mean, he was trying to enjoy an ice cream cone like me. However, it’s not like the nearby kids would know who he is anyway.
If were to jump inside my time-traveling DeLorean, I’d go back to those summer days in my bedroom.
In 2004, I got a PlayStation 2. PS2s were revolutionary, you could play games and watch DVDs. I spent way too many hours tucked inside my bedroom gaming my academic break away.
If I wasn’t gaming, I was microwaving a bag of popcorn and watching the same 5–10 movies I had in my drawer. A typical rotation consisted of Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Big Daddy, Kangaroo Jack, and Back to the Future.
I was heavily influenced by Adam Sandler — if you can’t tell. Yet, I loved watching Back to the Future.
Being at the ice cream shop made me realize that I am getting older. Back to the Future was a classic before I was born. But now the film is almost 40 years old.
Tom F. Wilson is a celebrity to me because of my childhood memories. Those kids playing on the side of the building — they have no idea about his cinematic impact. I am sure if Jack Nicholson needed a scoop of Rocky Road, the kids wouldn’t bat an eye.
I hope Petrucci’s finds a new home because I’ll never forget that interaction with Tom F. Wilson. I only wish I’d let him know how much my family loves saying the line, “Make like a tree and get out of here.”