Grandma and Grampa are seated in front. Daughter Elsie, my mom, is the first person standing on the left. The little brown haired girl seated in front of her is me, Karen.
Aunt Tina, husband Roop Doumanian and eldest brother George Doumanian at the grill.
Roop Doumanian uses bricks to balance the skewers on the stationary grill provided at the State park.
Tradition Born . . . An Armenian-American Tale
Family is our cornerstone – always was, always will be.
My Armenian grandparents, Hamphar and Fundugh Doumanian emigrated to America from Armenia in the fall of 1921. Hoping to start a new life with their baby girl Sosie, they arrived safely at Ellis Island on a cold morning filled with much hope but few possessions, save for some family photos and a few items of clothing. Hamphar and Fundugh each lost 4 brothers during the horrific Armenian genocide of 1915. Never abandoning their heritage, they instead used it as strength in building their new life and instilling tightly knit family values in their children. Hamphar, Fundugh and Sosie became Harry, Mary and Sue to the welcoming neighbors of their Detroit home. Their family quickly grew to 8 children to include George (Karekin) Elsie (Verkin, my Mom), Sam (Sooren), Jack (Vartkes), Gaze (Gaydzag), Nancy (Nazig), and the youngest, Roop (Roopen). Of course the descendants now extend to great, great, grand children. With a fond appreciation of the outdoors and family gatherings back in Armenia, the tradition of family summer picnics began in that first year in Detroit, as did the need for grilling tools. And hence, the original hand-crafted set of 8 magnificent skewers were crafted by my grandfather - still performing today as excellent as they did over 90 years ago!
Heirlooms . . .
My greatly adored grandparents are sadly no longer with us, but their strength, optimism, kindness towards others, and belief in family values left an indelible mark on our hearts and in how we raise our children. As with all cherished family possessions, these beloved skewers, gracefully aged by both time and countless family picnics, were passed down to Elsie, my mom, who now presides along with her big brother George and big sister Sue over the main course of lamb shish-kebob at our annual family reunion picnic. Over 90 years old, these original hand-crafted skewers perform as magically as when first held over hot flames at a picnic in Elizabeth Park, just southwest of Detroit. When not in use, grandma and grampa’s skewers are still kept tightly wrapped in brown paper and secured with twine just as they stored them in their Detroit home so many years ago. These skewers are lovingly cared for and absolutley priceless to our family. The skewers are gingerly unwrapped and opened in great anticipation at every annual family reunion picnic as if precious jewels were about to be revealed.
The American Spirit . . .
In 1988 I married Mark, a dentist and son of a Hungarian tool and die maker. Since his first attendance at a family reunion the prior year, Mark has admired and been fascinated with the craftsmanship of these 8 original skewers. He wasn’t alone. My cousins (some, self-annointed grill-masters) along with their married counterparts, also admired these skewers and would discuss their many merits while manning the barbeque grills each year. As the internet emerged, the discussions turned to the research efforts made in trying to find more of these skewers so they could purchase some and have their own set. Their efforts all came up empty.
Mark, the consummate problem-solver, took matters into his own hands and figured out how to handcraft identical skewers. But, could they pass the test of the keen observations of my Armenian Aunts, Uncles, and cousins in the exact look, feel, weight, and performance? Yes! Mark nailed it on the first try - and can you guess what everyone received as Christmas presents that year?
The American Skewer Company was born in 2009 to bring the essence of my grandparents’ tradition to other families. What started as a mission to faithfully recreate these heirloom skewers to give as gifts, quickly became an entrepreneurial venture as my cousins used them at neighborhood barbeques and tailgating events. Their friends were intrigued and impressed by the skewers unique square shape, size, and performance and they wanted to know where they could get a set! Word quickly spread.
We are proud to offer to you our 100% American Made skewers; wrapped in brown paper just like grandma and grandpa’s, of course! We’ve even added some American ingenuity with a cork to cover and protect the sharp ends and to also keep little ones from getting poked when not in use.
The tradition continues . . .
The greatest traditions in life are usually quite simple and most often include family and food. The original 8 skewers - our family's link to its past - became an integral part of many great family picnics and reign as so today. On them rest not only the family meal, but also the very fabric of family - spending time together - as young and old eagerly helped our grandparents prepare the skewers for cooking and delight in the storytelling and laughter along the way. We hope that you can start - or add to - your traditions with family and friends by including our magnificent skewers which can surely be passed down for generations.
Mark and Karen
The American Skewer Company