My father was placed in a cell on the sixth floor of the Hall of Justice. He was sitting on his bunk, contemplating his next move, when a handsome young man walked up.
“Mr. Best, might I have a word with you?”
Van looked at him questioningly, wondering if he was a lawyer. “I’m Paul Avery, with the San Francisco Chronicle,” the man said. “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Van shook his head.
Avery pulled out his notebook. “Where did you meet Judy?” he asked.
“At Herbert’s Sherbet Shoppe. She was there . . . beautiful and sweet,” Avery would later quote Van as saying.
“But she was only fourteen,” Avery said.
“That didn’t matter.”
Over the next half hour, Van told Avery the whole story. “He Found Love in Ice Cream Parlor,” read the headline of the San Francisco Chronicle on August 1, 1962. Pictures of Van and Judy were splashed across the page, accompanied by an article depicting their romance. “At the moment, several sets of steel bars and more than a mile in distance separate Van and his one-time wife, Judy Chandler,” Avery wrote before describing how the now twenty-eight-year-old man had fallen in love with a teenager.
When Van saw the article, he was furious. He didn’t like the way Avery had portrayed him as if he were some old, balding child molester. Avery would later dub their love affair “The Ice Cream Romance.” Van would never forgive him for mocking his love for Judy.