legend lost {still + life}

I had a post about my camera changes planned for today, but we lost a legend in our community yesterday. Abe Doumar, of Doumar's Ice Cream and BBQ died at the tremendous age of 92. He'd recently cut back from 60-70 hour weeks to 30-40 hour weeks and could be seen at the shop making his famous cones nearly every time we went in. I'm re-posting a post I wrote for Annie at Insideology to tell you a little about this amazing man and the legend his eatery has become in our town.

Doumar’s has a wonderful history. Abe Doumar, one of four brothers from Damascus, Syria, is credited with the invention of the ice cream cone. We love Abe Doumar! At the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, Abe Doumar purchased a waffle that he then rolled into a cone and topped with some ice cream to sell at the fair. Impressed with his brilliance (And who wouldn’t be?) and success, Abe brought his brothers to America where they sold ice cream cones at the Jamestown Exposition in 1907. For the Exposition Abe had a four-waffle machine made, and the brothers sold more than 23,000 cones.

After the Exposition, the brothers set up shop at the Ocean View Amusement Park, once considered the finest resort area south of Atlantic City, New Jersey. A 1933 hurricane devastated the Ocean View area, and afterwards, in 1934, George (brother to Abe, who had died in 1920) opened the drive-in soda fountain in its current location. George’s son Albert can still be found making cones on the original four-cone machine nearly everyday. As a side note, because I’m a bit of a hurricane buff, the Hurricane of 1933 made landfall on the Virginia/North Carolina border as a Category 1 hurricane. In Norfolk, a tidal surge of 7-9 feet flooded much of downtown and sank 10 ships. It was the strongest hurricane to hit the area until Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which struck four days after we moved here.

Today, Doumar’s looks much the same as it did when it opened in the 1930s. While I’m sure the orange vinyl seats on the booths and the stools at the counter have been replaced over the years, the sense you get is that they’ve been there since the beginning. The same goes for the faux wood laminate table tops. The bathrooms are outside. If you need to go, you grab the key on the hook to unlock the door. But really, I recommend waiting until you get home.

The drive-in is still operational, and this is a popular Norfolk eatery. When we were house hunting in Norfolk 12 years ago, this was one of our realtor’s first stops with us! People come for the ice cream and the food. The limeade is the most popular beverage, unless you opt for a milkshake. Those can be served regular or, for 10 cents more, “drugstore” thin. If you’re looking for a healthy meal, don’t come to Doumar’s! Folks, the bacon for the BLT is fried in the deep fryer. It’s awesome. The cheeseburger, one of my favorites, has cheese on both sides, but they’re best known for their pork BBQ. It’s served Southern style, with slaw, and you add your own hot sauce at the table.

No plates or utensils, just plastic-wrapped sandwiches and paper napkins. The food comes fast and is simple and delicious. You tend to eat it fast too, because generally there’s a standing-room-only line waiting for a table. And you usually see someone you know there too. Grandparents take their grandkids, families come for lunch or dinner, teens stop in for ice cream. We ran into our neighbors at lunch this day.

Doumar’s has been featured on Food Channel shows and has won James Beard awards. It’s not fancy, but it is special. And I love what they say on their web site, “Our favorite awards over the years have been the many smiles!”

I can't tell you how Abe Doumar's loss has left such a void in our community. It seriously was the talk of the town yesterday, and even the bright spring sunshine felt somber. Here's a news story about Abe showing just how beloved he was... it wasn't just the place; it was the man himself. He'll be missed, but the smiles he created will linger on. What a wonderful business to be in? Making people smile with ice cream!

This post was originally published on August 20, 2012 by Annie of Insideology.

weekend recap, august 19 edition

1. let's do this | 2. choppy seas | 3. wear a kid out | 4. photobomb by cal | 5. ferry to portsmouth | 6. norfolk at sunset | 7. still | 8. waiting on the ferry home | 9. norfolk at night  | 10. glorious figs, pretty packaging | 11. rocket man | 12. rainy nighttime garden | 13. neel's paddle | 14. rocket men | 15. sweet snuggly violet  

1. let's do this | 2. choppy seas | 3. wear a kid out | 4. photobomb by cal | 5. ferry to portsmouth | 6. norfolk at sunset | 7. still | 8. waiting on the ferry home | 9. norfolk at night  | 10. glorious figs, pretty packaging | 11. rocket man | 12. rainy nighttime garden | 13. neel's paddle | 14. rocket men | 15. sweet snuggly violet 

It's been the funniest summer. Rainy and cool for so many days. These past three or four haven't gotten out of the 70s, which have felt downright fall like. I don't think I'm complaining, but our beach days have been, well, unusual to say the least.  

My dad was here for most of the weekend, so we made the most of that for sure. After Neel and I had our assessment with our personal trainer (and yes, assessment sounds alarmingly like test), he headed to work and we headed to the beach.  

The beach was chilly, gray and choppy, but oh. It was delightful too. I will never tire of having the waves lap at my toes and watching the stormy surf. 

Dinner Friday night was at Still, which one of my favorite local restaurants. Sometimes you go to a restaurant and have a great meal, and sometimes you go and get a perfect combination of service and food and experience. This (with the exception of the table next to us who ordered nothing BUT drinks, and you can imagine how that went down), was one of those nights. Instead of dealing with the tricky tunnel traffic (living surrounded by water the way we do, it's hard to get anywhere without going over a bridge or through a tunnel), we opted to take a ferry from Norfolk to Portsmouth for the restaurant, and that was just the best decision. The quick ride over and back felt fun and special, and it's so lovely to see these two cities from the water. I can't believe we don't do it more.

The rest of our weekend was quiet (recovery?). Steady rain, sweet figs. Some movies and hello, who else is watching Newsroom? My dad brought up the first season, we watched the 1st two episodes and he cold-heartedly snatched them away again. Need to get my hands on the rest of season.  

Neel and Callum built a rocket on Saturday but that evening's launch was scrubbed due to rain. They both stared out the window like sad puppies all morning Sunday waiting for things to dry out, and late in the day we had three successful launches. After the first, a crowd of parents and kids who were playing soccer in the field where we went to launch came to watch the rest. Even the dads were mesmerized.  

Sometimes, most times, the simple things are best.