Tuesday, May 6, 2008

To Irvine Robbins

Co-founder of Baskin-Robbins, who died today at the age of 90 in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Dear Mr. Robbins,

Thanks for giving us a place to go on summer evenings when dinner was over and it was too early to head to the family room and watch TV, but too late to go out and play. Dad would say, “Let’s go to Baskin-Robbins,” and we’d be out the door and on our way in our pale yellow, wood paneled, Country Squire wagon.

Soon I’d be standing in front of the long glass case examining all thirty-one flavors even though I already knew I was getting Daiquiri Ice. We’d walk out into the warm evening air, ice cream in hand, the heat rising up off the asphalt parking lot, the neon signs beginning to glow up and down the street, sky turning the color of rainbow sherbet.

We’d drive home slowly, maybe taking the long way through the canyon just to see the open land and smell the sage and eucalyptus in the air while we savored our frozen treats. These were the days when we all had time. There was no email to check. No web to surf. Maybe we’d catch “The Rockford Files” when we got home. There was no hurry. These were simple outings. In the scheme of things, they don’t add up to much yet they are among those lynch pin moments that form the structure of my childhood memories.

In his seventies, my dad was well known at the Baskin-Robbins near his home. He often placed special orders for his favorite German Chocolate Cake ice cream. He died this past December. The week of his passing, there was a message on his machine. “Mr. Hall, we have a half gallon of German Chocolate for you if you’d like to come in.” I picked it up and we all shared a scoop in his honor. I ate it thinking of those summer evenings.

Dear Mr. Robbins, thanks for all the sweetness.

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