Community Champions: Author earns international recognition for book on Leopold’s
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - People come for the ice cream. But once inside Leopold’s, they discover so much more about the business that is part of Savannah history and American history.
“It’s an immigrant story. It’s a lot of those things.”
Melanie Bowden Simon has collected a century's worth of those stories in a new book that is part biography, part historical and all the flavor of the famous shop Stratton Leopold runs as a tribute to his father and three uncles who started it shortly after arriving here from Greece.
“I wanted to give context to what they were walking into in Savannah - dirt roads and it was still very rural ... I did learn a lot about ice cream and its origins and how it replaced alcohol during prohibition, that’s when it really took off, I had no idea ... that’s right around when the brothers started, they started in 1919, so it was really good luck for them in that sense,” Bowden Simon said.
Less fortunate timing has not hurt Simon.
Leopold's Ice Cream, a Century of Tasting Memories was released one month before everything started shutting down. But it has still managed to gain attention, recently being named a finalist in four categories of the International Book Awards.
"To have it recognized in such an international way, it was really exciting and rewarding and just feels good. I'm proud and I'm happy. it's funny, when I saw it, I was more excited for Stratton and Mary than I was for me because I just adore them.
“The reception has been phenomenal. Never expected it. It just proves that talent is here in Savannah and Melanie is loaded with it,” Stratton Leopold said.
Simon witnessed the impact Leopold's has had on people in Savannah at one of the few release events she was able to do before the pandemic.
“Mary was with me at one of them and it was amazing because up afterwards and they started sharing their own stories ... how people fell in love working together at Leopold’s or how people would go there with their families or got there after dances or football games. Really touching stories. ... it’s really an homage to the Leopold family traditions. I would call it an American story or an immigrant story. It’s really the American dream. That’s Stratton, second generation, and what his family set up and he has carried on.”
Available at the shop on Broughton Street, the new book does not come with a free scoop of ice cream; just something you can't usually get at Leopold's.
“To note, I believe if you come to the shop, you don’t have to wait on a long line to get the book.‘'
Former President Jimmy Carter wrote the forward to the book as a favor to Stratton Leopold.
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