WATERTOWN — He’s a soldier at Fort Drum and was getting ice cream with his wife and son one recent evening. They weren’t wearing masks — not a political choice by them — when they were waiting in line. Customers took notice and a verbal altercation escalated to the family leaving without ice cream and getting spit at as they got in their car.

The soldier, whose name is Steve, asked that his last name remain anonymous due to his occupation and clearance level at Fort Drum. He was at the Cowlick Ice Cream shop one evening last week with his wife, Kelsey, and their son. They had been there a few days before as it’s their favorite ice cream spot. There were no lines, he said, and they didn’t see a sign asking people to wear masks, so a few days later on Friday, July 24, they went back without them.

“We thought because we were outside, as long as we stayed away from people we wouldn’t have to wear a mask,” Steve said. “When we went back, there was a family at the window and we thought we’d keep our distance.”

That’s when Kelsey noticed the sign that asks customers to wear masks. Steve said their plan was to wait for the family in front of them to get their ice cream and then ask the employees about the sign.

“And if they didn’t want to serve us that’s their right as a business,” he said. “We would have gone back to our house to grab our masks or we would have come back another day.”

But when they were waiting in line, a member of the family in front of them began complaining.

“We could tell she was obviously upset that we weren’t wearing masks,” Steve said, “and then she gave me a mean look.”

Steve decided to say something, which, if he could, he would take back.

“I said something like ‘Oh no, we’re not wearing masks. It’s the end of the world,’” he said. “Looking back now on everything, I would not have made that comment. I could definitely tell she was angry about that, so maybe if I hadn’t have said anything, it wouldn’t have blown up. Other than that, we wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

Steve alleges the woman became verbally “nasty” after he made the comment. Kelsey suggested they leave so they started heading toward the parking lot.

Steve said he was putting his son into his car seat when another member of the complaining family took her mask off and spit in his direction.

“I just kind of laughed,” Steve said. “If you’re trying to look big and bad, you’re not doing a good job.”

When it comes to wearing masks, Steve said he doesn’t like them but he won’t hesitate to wear them where it is required.

“I’m not pro mask. I’m not anti mask,” he said. “I am just for giving people the right to do whatever they want to do. So if a company wants to enforce wearing masks, I’m going to wear a mask.”

And he’s happy about whereever he doesn’t have to wear a mask.

“I’m not trying to upset anyone,” he said. “I’m really not. Whether you’re pro mask or anti mask, with everything that’s going on right now, there is no reason for anybody to rude or mean.”

Jennifer Hilpl, who helps run the shop and is daughter of the owner, Barbara Speary, said she was pulling into the parking shortly before the customer spit in Steve’s direction. She witnessed it and decided she would start looking for Steve and his family.

“We just want to make it right,” she said earlier this week. “She was doing this to a family with a young child, which to me is completely inappropriate.”

It took less than a week for the shop to track down the family. Ms. Hilpl invited them back to the shop on Friday, where the family-owned shop gave them gift certificates and a gift basket.

“I think it says a lot about them and how much they were trying to make it right, and we just appreciate it,” Steve said on Friday. “We enjoy going there. And now that we know they are requiring people wear masks, tonight when we go we are going to be wearing masks.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(30) comments


So hard to believe. I wear a mask everywhere I go except outside because the breeze blows away anything from someone else. That person was purely ignorant. And to think that he or she did that to a soldier and his family. Totally disgusting.


So let me get this straight.....some idiot got mad enough at another person to actually spit on them because they weren’t wearing a mask, but then removed their own mask to spit?? 🤔🤔🤔


Someone spit on me, there Saturday’s would never be the same!


I agree Holmes, and my question below was for rockloper. I know you're a vet.


And yet you support cadet bone-spurs. He mocked a true American hero - John McCain - and yet you support cadet bone-spurs. He mocked a gold star family, even crueler yet, and you support cadet cone-spurs. You and holmes can use your fake indignation on someone else. Can you spell hypocrite?


The only one who come out of this looking even halfway good is the ice cream shop. And I’d have to question that as well. If you go out bring your mask with you. And if someone isn’t wearing a mask don’t spit at them, they already want to play the victim like the perpetual victim in the WH.


I agree that spitting on someone like this isn't acceptable. However the question I had about them possessing masks at all was answered in this article. They had no intention of wearing a mask in this public setting obviously which is unacceptable as well. But viola, they wore a mask for a photo op. I agree with roger the rambler that now they want sympathy from the public after choosing to put them at risk. Not only are they playing the innocent all American family with masks in the photo they're playing the military card as well. That will get them right wing support which is what they're after. What a sham.

Ya, I'm sick and tired of stupid as well and it's at that point with all the data out there not wearing a mask isn't ignorant, it's stupid. I'm sick and tired of all the lame excuses to diminish the severity of what this virus is capable of doing. I'm sick and tired of the lame responses that the regular flu kills 80,000 people every year. Oops we doubled that. I'm sick and tired of the clownish administration that could have prevented much of this with some effective leadership. Remember when the orange clown admitted yes there will be a few deaths? I'm sick and tired of people, retired or active, playing the military card to garner sympathy. Being in the military is not the most dangerous occupation one can have to contribute to this country.


If you say so. Remember though, freedom isn’t free but don’t worry a Marine will pay your share...


Really? What will they pay it with? My taxes they get in their pay?


Got some personal experience to back up your last sentence?


26 years worth.. DD214 to prove.


My question is for rockloper.


Look it up


If you say so.


"I am just for giving people the right to do whatever they want to do. "...pretty much says it all... Head of Dallas hospitals said it best... "this is a war on Covid, and stupidity"... NJ Gov..."those of you not wearing masks, having house parties, and stuffing your boats are causing this" ... When this guy left in the car his family certainly was wearing seat belts... kid was in a car seat...he followed the road rules..what's the difference? Hope we all learn from this..



suzanne phillips

Thumbs up to Cowlick Ice Cream shop for the gracious way they handled this unpleasant situation.

Spitting is a bit over the top, I would have encouraged the snowflake to wear a mask, pointing out A.) its mandantory in public B. ) its mandantory when dealing with a business employee and it is good science as well as social science. For those of us who are immune comprimised or elderly (such as on cancer therapy) this fine soldier and his unmasked family could be angelic looking angels of death. I myself have to care for such souls and idiots who fail to mask up make my job much more difficult. They are selfish twits.




Not mandatory in public, only when you can’t ‘social distance’... A pandemic does not override one’s constitutional rights.

A pandemic certainly is able to override your rights. The laws of NY allow elected officials to not only mandate masks, but to quarentine you, mark your residence as quarentined, and lock you up if you disobey. These laws were upheld in the early part of the century with commitments to TB asylums with those with TB, forced masks and giant red Qs posted on the doors.

Asylim wards were routinely patrolled and if you were not where you were assigned, you were jailed. At night, the stick men would beat our feet if you laid on your side or stomach rather than your back.


Who said a pandemic doesn't override your constitutional rights?


Your comment is bogus Holmes...Cite the part of the constitution that addresses this... take your time... It's a common excuse used and based on personal interpretation to fit their position. Find court cases or legal rulings to support any of these claims... and I'm all ears.. There are multiple examples throughout our history of mandates during epidemics..including yellow fever...flu...small pox... supported by the Supreme Court...

I am sick and tired of stupid. And this guy, an Army snowflake, exemplifies stupid, as does anyone who fails to wear a mask in public, or anyone who does not enforce the mask use in their business or anyone out who might be in public or encounter other humans. . My reality is that I have not one but two neutropenic (severely immune comprimised) family members, plus others I volunteer with. Although being spat upon is somewhat humiliating, apparently the lack of protecting your fellow citizens is not to this fellow who is employed to do so. Maybe in the off chance I run into him in public, in the future, he will be shamed and educated enough to wear a GD mask. It is not his choice to possibly be a vector to my family's death. I spit on him in absentia.




Tone it down, frolicking rabbit. First go look up what I responded to rdsouth regarding calling those who enter the military "stupid" (couple of days ago in the article about one soldier pointing a gun at another). The man is an Army soldier and therefore willing to take a bullet for you. He is not a "snowflake". He is a member of the military community we should all support. Next, drop the GD stuff. For those of us that believe, that is profane as it is using the Lords name in vain. Your last sentence accentuates your ignorance. You most assuredly wouldn't feign virtual spitting even to a Portland protestor who is shooting a laser in the eyes of a cop. Why would you threaten that to a soldier? You're the one who should be shamed...and ashamed.

My sincere apologies if it appears as if I was calling all service members stupid. I have worn a uniform, I know better. This individual did something stupid, hopefully no one dies, and he learns from his mistake.


How many bullets is he going to take living in a nice safe fortress in the hills of New York State with his wife and children and free time in town? Spare me the hysteria. He is supposed to be an adult; he should have assumed the responsibility to protect Americans is every second of every day while he is on taxpayer money. That includes taking simple, prudent precautions against spreading -or catching - a disease like COVID19. It goes both ways. Not wearing a mask endangers his family and every other person he comes near, which includes every soldier and civilian at Fort Drum.

The person who spit at him absolutely should be investigated for assaulting a government employee, and if convicted, punished in accordance with the law. There are legal mechanisms to protest misbehavior by government actors- at least for now. Follow them. Don't pull a Trumpie. Of course, if the sheriff refuses to enforce legal orders issued by the governor, you may have to call the State Police to intervene.


LAW, did you see the article about the dead Marines yesterday? They left their nice, placid, safe, homes on a base paid for by your tax dollars. They climbed into an amphibious assault vehicle paid for by your tax dollars. When something went wrong (and things do often go wrong in COMBAT training) they sunk to the bottom of the ocean. You might even be responsible for their demise since you paid for everything. They were doing a job that you would never do.

If our military member committed any other crime, i would not support him merely because he was a military member, I would expect better. virtual spitting for lasers, again, I am sick of stupid. I'll stop here.

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