Hingham, MA -- If you've ever lived in or visited Boston's Dorchester Lower Mills neighborhood, you may already know David and Robyn Mabel, residents of Linden Ponds, an Erickson Living managed senior living community in Hingham, Massachusetts. They founded The Ice Creamsmith in 1976 and operated the popular ice cream shop until about four years ago, when they passed the business on to their daughter and her husband.
David and his neighbor got the idea to open the ice cream parlor one summer when they saw an ad in the newspaper selling ice cream making equipment. With help from their wives, they decided to take a chance in the ice cream business.
"I was unemployed and had been looking pretty intensely for a job and was not having success," David says. "We bought the equipment, stayed with it, and built out own little customer base over the years."
The neighbor who initially partnered with David didn't stay in the business for long, but the Mabels continued operating the shop for decades, always rolling up their sleeves to scoop ice cream along with their employees.
The Ice Creamsmith gained many fans and accolades over the years, including the Boston Globe calendar section choosing their frozen pudding ice cream as a "Hit of the Week."
"This is its forty-fourth year," David says of the shop. "A lot of people are happy it's still in the family."
A new chapter
With the family business in the hands of their daughter and son-in-law, David and Robyn set their sights on enjoying their retirement. In July 2019, they decided to move from Boston to Linden Ponds. Having recently dealt with their own parents passing away, they decided they didn't want their kids to one day have to sort through decades worth of stuff stored in their home.
"Our house had nine rooms, an attic, and a cellar," David says. "We thought we would do our kids a big favor by clearing it out ourselves. We wanted fewer headaches and more amenities."
Dave and Robyn first learned about Linden Ponds when they were looking at retirement communities for their parents, but then they started to consider it for themselves. They thought they'd move when they got older, but when the Fairmont-style apartment home they liked was being offered at a discount, they decided to jump on the opportunity. They found that making a quick decision to move made it easier to decide what to toss and what to keep during the downsizing process.
"When you have a deadline, you tend to meet it," Robyn says. "We wound up bringing so little stuff, we actually have more space here than we thought we would."
Their two-bedroom, one-bath apartment home has ample closet space and a spacious living and dining area. They worked with Linden Ponds' custom interiors department to remove the carpeting and install hardwood flooring. They use their second bedroom as a den and computer room as well as for a second TV for when they want to watch different shows or movies separately.
"The two bedrooms are definitely big enough for us," Robin says. "We had no problem fitting in everything we wanted to bring."
In fact, their living area even has enough space for Dave's drum set. He worked his way through college playing the drums in a trio. As business and family demanded more of his time, he stopped playing but never got rid of his drum set. Now that he's retired, he's getting back into drumming.
Dave and Robyn have found many rewarding ways to enjoy their free time at Linden Ponds. They are members of the Jewish Community and a walking group. Dave is a member of the tennis club and also works out at the on-site fitness center.
"I've really enjoyed the Lifelong Learning program," Robyn says. "Before COVID-19, we went to all the social things on campus, like concerts and movies."
Safe during a difficult time
When stay-at-home directives were in effect, most in-person gatherings at Linden Ponds were put on hold. But Dave and Robyn say the staff went above and beyond to keep everyone safe and comfortable, delivering meals, mail, and packages to their doors so they didn't have to risk venturing out.
"We've started up again with our lifelong love of jigsaw puzzles," Robyn says. "it's a great way to spend your time."
Warmer summer weather allowed Linden Ponds residents to spend more time outdoors. Dave and Robyn took the opportunity to walk three miles each day, which provided them with opportunities to get fresh air and exercise and also to chat with their neighbors and friends in a safe outdoor setting.
"Linden Ponds is a good and comfortable place to live," Robyn says.
Photo: Dave and Robyn Mabel operated The Ice Creamsmith in Boston for 40 years. They are pictured here sailing on the Rhine River in Germany.
Written by Meghan Streit
About Linden Ponds: Linden Ponds, one of 20 continuing care communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 108-acre campus in Hingham, Massachusetts. The not-for-profit community of more than 1300 residents and 800 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information about Linden Ponds can be found at LindenPonds.com.