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The for sale sign went up last week, answering the question ice cream lovers have been asking since May.

Would C & L Dairy Sweet rebuild?

The 40-year fixture at South Coddington Avenue and West Van Dorn Street — on the edge of Pioneers Park — was blown off its slab May 2 by a strong but short-lived tornado. Two days later, owner Hap Loomis and her family announced the business would remain closed this year, but they were still deciding the Dairy Sweet’s future.

Loomis has since decided it won’t have a future.

“I guess I’m getting old enough I can brag about it: I’m getting close to 80,” she said. “And I don’t have the energy to start over.”

The choice hasn’t been hard on her. But it’s been tough on her three daughters, who grew up with the ice cream stand and worked their first jobs there, she said.

One daughter thought about rebuilding, but the family ultimately agreed to put the site on the market: $395,000 for 2.5 acres with an old house, a view of Lee Chicken’s and decades of rich history.

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Loomis started C & L in 1979, buying a friend’s Dairy Sweet on West O Street and planting it on the piece of land where she’d started raising her family. She added blue trim, a wooden awning and became famous for her lemon ice cream.

The business struggled during the two-year project to transform the intersection into a roundabout, but Loomis reopened for the season this spring with a 40th anniversary celebration and no plans to stop working.

The Sunday afternoon storm changed that. “After the tornado I said, ‘Hey, maybe it happened for a reason; you need to retire.’”

As soon as the wind had died down that day and the damage was clear, generations of customers started mourning C & L. A stranger launched an online fundraising campaign, and the total rose to about $4,000.

Loomis distributed the money to her seven employees, based on how long they’d been with her. Two part-timers had only worked a couple of shifts, but they still got a little something, she said.

The fundraising account is closed, and Loomis has moved on. She’s golfing more — she has tee times Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week — and she’s buying her ice cream at the grocery store.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter.

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