Leopold's Ice Cream is a sweet staple of Savannah, and has been for over 100 years.
Founded in 1919 by three brothers who came to Savannah from Greece, George, Peter and Basil Leopold started with making candy and ice cream, and later perfected their own recipes. After Stratton Leopold's father passed, he took over the family business and continued with the tradition helping make the Savannah ice cream shop world famous.
In keeping with the family tradition, Stratton and his wife Mary approached author Melanie Bowden Simón to document the history of Leopold's Ice Cream. After several years of research, talking over dinner and digging through boxes of memories, Bowden Simón's book, "Leopold's Ice Cream : A Century of Tasty Memories," shows the history of the Leopold family, and the stories of Savannah at their ice cream parlor.
Bowden Simón published her book "La Americana" in 2016 when Stratton Leopold approached her to congratulate her on her book launch. She had interviewed him for her blog with the same title, so she knew him previously from 2013, and when he came to her at the book launch, he leaned in and told her "this is a film."
Afterwards, they would meet and talk about possibilities of the film production ideas of her book. She and her husband, and Leopold and Mary would meet, and one night while Mary was in town, Bowden Simón's husband owned a 1957 Chevy and the four went out and had a night on the town.
While driving, she and Mary were sitting in the back, and Leopold and (Bowden Simón's husband) Luis were up front. Mary leaned over and asked her if she would write the book about Leopolds; they had been thinking about the book for about 20 years, Bowden Simón said.
"How was I going to say no?" she said. "It was a complete honor."
From the early days of the book's development, Bowden Simón started mapping out the challenge of cataloging nearly 100 years of Leopold's history. She strongly wanted to show the history and honor their story, and their family in the book. What began as a book project turned into a story about a family creating a lasting legacy of love and giving.
As Greek immigrants, with a large influx of Greek immigrants in Savannah in the early 1900s, most of the people came with the intention to work and save up money and go back home. Unfortunately, things did not get better at home, so most decided to stay in the United States, said Bowden Simón. She began on the journey of the book with talks over dinner with the Leopolds and then digging out through boxes of old photographs, letters, and video documentaries.
"Leopold's Ice Cream : A Century of Tasty Memories" weaves together the fabric of yarn of the Leopold family's story, which is much more than just an ice cream shop. It shares the American Dream and legacy of the Leopold family, who have passed down generational values of hard work, dedication, and community giving.