Good-bye, Kelvin Shimazu

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shimazu bannerYour favorite flavors were strawberry and grape, because they took you back to small-kid time, the way they took back the old folks who sat in the sun outside your store with their strawberry cones. Your cones were gigantic — the size of a small child’s head — because your own childhood fantasy was shave ice that was gigantic. And anybody who spilled one got a free replacement because “whether you’re young or old,” you told me, “dropping your shave ice is always traumatic.”

You had heart, Kelvin Shimazu. You got that the point of shave ice is joie de vivre of the deepest, most simple kind. The world lost a bit of sweetness when you left, on that hot July day the Hawaii episode of “Bizarre Foods America” aired, but I know you got to see your two minutes of fame on the DVD they Fedexed, and I heard it made you happy.

So now the world knows you were the Willy Wonka of shave ice. They know you poured your joy into the craziest syrup flavor concoctions. Buttered popcorn? Bananas Foster? Red velvet? On shave ice? Not just that, it mattered to you that red velvet taste just like the cocoa-y cupcake with a mouthful of cream cheese frosting. I was waiting for the next flavor you talked about, cinnamon buns, which you said would taste just like the pastry — butter, cinnamon and all.

But you got too sick. I find it comforting, in a circular way, that the place you took your shave ice machine on Fridays to make shave ice for the patients was the place that ended up taking care of you. I only know about Queen’s because my dentist ran into you at the cafeteria, and when he told you his mom wasn’t eating up there in her hospital room, you excused yourself a few minutes and photo-601came back with a strawberry cone. “Give this to her,” you said. I hope he got to tell you she ate every bite.

You were my shave ice hero, Kelvin. Shimazu Store continues with your son, Kendall, churning out those crazy big cones topped with wacky flavors, which is probably the greatest gift you could leave us. I told you before, and you didn’t want to hear it. But I’ll say it one last time.

Thank you.