I had my first taste of soft ice cream in the mid 1950s as a first or second–grader living in a very small, very rural town called Waianae on the island of Ohau, Hawaii. A tiny soft serve ice cream store appeared one day on the walk to and from school. I vividly remember them giving away free ice cream the first day they opened... Little did I realize that this act of kindness to us children would one day become a tradition of Eats and Sweets for over 3 decades.
Than in 1957-8 or so my father retired from his 22 year career in the US Navy (which included being a Pearl Harbor survivor Dec. 7th 1941) and our family move to my parents home town in NJ (Teaneck and Union). Ends up I traded in my beach life style for a set of snow skis in the Pocono Mountains of PA. and spent my teen years learning to ski. I got hooked on snow skiing and had always wanted to start a business that would allowed me to work hard in the summers and than take the winters off to ski. That's when I started thinking about the idea to open a seasonal ice cream and food business. I have always loved the idea of having my own business and working for myself. Perhaps this is because of that little ice cream store in Waianae Hawaii.
Even though I had the idea and desire to open a place of my own for most of my life, it tool a long time to make it happen. I had to save a lot of money to get started. (Lucky for you, that is something you don't have to worry about when you win Eats and Sweets!).
I started my first after–school job when I was 16 years old, from then – through my time in the US Army in VietNam, I saved and saved, until I was 34 years old. It was then that I was able to buy a old "fixer–upper" house, pay it off, and save $18,000. So on November 29th 1983 I did it! I purchased the expensive highway land just off the interstate exit that would become Eats and Sweets. I found a great carpenter named Jerry L. and he and I spent every free moment we had building what is now Eats and Sweets. We worked all winter long into late spring, until the begining of spring 1984. That's when our dream became reality and Eats and Sweets sold it's first ice cream cone!
Eats and Sweets first customer was a cook from Mount Airy Lodge that is now a casino just 4 miles away.... He was the first customer and he was also the very first person to use the drive-thru window (even though he came up to the window on foot)! We had a good laugh about that. I still remember what he ordered, a single scoop strawberry dip icecream cone.
That first summer in business was an exciting rush running my own business and learning all the ins–and–outs of making customers happy. People liked it! We had people stop by from all over the country. It was exhilarating! We were open from 11am–11pm, 7 days a week until mid October. I don't remember the exact sales numbers for the season but when fall came, we decided to close the store for the winter and re-open in the spring. We had made enough money to cover our costs for the winter and I bought myself a brand new White 1984 Ford T–Bird! It was amazing. Finally in business for myself... that is when I remembered the free ice cream from my childhood! We re-opend Eats and Sweets for Halloween and decided to give all the trick–or–treaters free ice cream! Now an annual tradition.
I had finally reached my dream of having my own business that enabled me to have the freedom I was looking for. Work for myslef in the spring, summer and fall. Then take the winter off to go skiing. It's an incredible feeling being able to have the freedom to live the kind of life you want. However, in a short amount of time, I became bored with skiing and decided to try something more challenging... I had always been facinated by helicopters, so for the next 3 years I trained for my pilots licenses in the winter. A different location each winter actually. First solo was in the San Francisco area. Private license earned the next winter in Scotsdale, Arizona and my commercial license was earned on the big island of Hawaii in 1991 or 1992. Just another chapter in the adventure of life that being self employed did for me. It's so amazing to be able to do what you're meant to do and have the freedom to live life on your terms.
That's a big reason we are doing this Essay contest – so that someone else can experience life on their terms and live their dreams (normaly only for the wealthy)... You can live your dreams! Here is your chance to win Eats and Sweets and finally have the freedom you have been dreaming about.