Yes, It Was a Camel Passing By

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Daboul Settles Bet

By Ann L. Moore

Hampton Union, Wednesday, July 1, 1981

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online. Photos courtesy Jackie Mortimer and not part of the original article.]

HAMPTON BEACH -- Mike Daboul rode the camel to pay off his bet with John Tinios last Saturday, and was neatly upstaged by the beast, Humphrey, a 12-year-old male camel supplied by R. W. Cummerford and Sons of Goshen, Conn.

The dromedary, a one-hump camel, was hired for the day for $850, portal to portal, all expenses included.

For anyone who does not know why Mike rode a camel the length of the beach and down Lafayette Road, here is the story. Last December, Jim Kennedy, a beach precinct commissioner and businessman, was at the Galley Hatch restaurant with Daboul and restauranteur John Tinios, the son of owners Mike and Kay Tinios.

"Jim found he couldn't pull up close to the table and decided to go on a diet," Daboul explains. "I bet John that Jim could not lose 45 pounds and get down to 170 pounds. We figured six months to do it, and set June 1 for a deadline."

Daboul said if Kennedy lost the weight he would ride a camel the length of Hampton Beach.

For his side of the bet, Tinios said if Kennedy did not lose the weight he would feed the Daboul family a meal a week, free, for a year at the restaurant.

The Daboul family includes Mr. and Mrs. plus youngsters, Michael, 7, Noelle, 12, Christie, 15 and Yvonne, 16.

All Kennedy had to do was lose the weight.

And he did.

But, between the bet and the weigh-in on June 1, a lot of people got into the act. Fellow Kiwanians of Daboul's pledged money to the club's fund for needy children if Kennedy lost the weight and Daboul rode the camel.

On June 1 the weigh-in was staged at the Galley Hatch with a limousine arrival by "Kid Kennedy", surrounded by tuxedo-clad managers, beautiful girls wearing T-shirts emblazoned "Kennedy's Angels," and an official scale from Exeter Hospital on the stage. A cheering crowd filled the parking lot.

Daboul announced that he would ride the camel on June 27, after Kennedy tipped the scale at exactly 170.

A call to Benson's Wild Animal Farm was made by Daboul. No Luck. The Benson farm does not rent its animals, "but they referred us to Cummerford," Mrs. Duboul revealed. Meanwhile, Daboul was telling everyone the camel was coming from "my camel farm in the old country." Daboul, of Lebanese descent, is retired and tells people he sells camels for a living.

When the big day arrived, family and friends gathered at the Daboul house on Harris Avenue, overlooking Hampton harbor.

After a few anxious moments around 8 a.m., the camel arrived by truck at 8:20 a.m

His name is "Humphrey" and he is big for a dromedary according to the Cummerfords. After a few moments Humphrey was saddled and ready for Daboul who had disappeared into the house after viewing the beast with a trace of alarm.

Photographers and reporters mingled with the crowd who were watching Humphrey. He foamed a bit at the mouth, made gurgling noises, and behaved quite well, ogling the group with his long-lashed soft brown eyes. Bill Cummerford saddled Humphrey and his wife Darlene handled the animal's halter.

State Senators Robert Preston of Hampton and Robert Stephenson of Manchester were on hand. Stephenson is also of Lebanese descent, Daboul is a constituent of Preston's.

Mike came out in a camel rider's outfit loaned him by Rohie Robinson of Glen Hill who had bought the rig in Saudi Arabia. Young Michael Dahoul in a homemade version stitched by Mrs. Daboul's mother.

The parade with three belly dancers on a flat bed truck following Daboul on the camel, went up P Street and along Ocean Boulevard. People lined the sidewalk and grinned and laughed and yelled to each other, "It's a camel!"

Daboul stopped at several businesses to collect the pledges made for the Kiwanis Club. He says he got about $1,000.

"The police chief and the officers were wonderful," Mrs. Daboul says. "We had no problems at all. And the public works department was terrific. They had the street cleaned in no time." Mrs. Daboul mentioned her husband was touched when Jim Kennedy's niece, Kathleen Cronnelly, approached him at the North Beach and gave him $5 for the Kiwanis.

Everyone got into the spirit of things. Clyde's Restaurant had a "camel stop" with a palm tree in a pot and a drink for Humphrey. The Honey Bee Donut Shop in Hampton center gave the beast a 12-pound donut and Seacoast Florist garlanded Humphrey with a rope of flowers.

The Cummerfords said Tuesday, the doughnut was Humphrey's favorite part of the trip. "He ate every bit," Mrs Barbara Cummerford said.

Channel 4, Boston, Mass., sent reporter Bill Shields to cover the event and the camel ride was on the 6 p m. and 11 p.m. news Saturday night.

"We didn't do too bad." Daboul said, "sharing the news with Luciano Pavarotti." The famous tenor was singing at the esplanade the same day, in Boston.

The Galley Hatch parking lot was the end of the trip, Saturday, with music by Mike Sarkissian's four-piece band, a proclamation from the governor and the state legislature, followed by a small reception for the parade participants and the weary press corps, in the Galley Hatch. The trucks, used for stages and an open convertible for the Daboul family were provided by Selectman Robert V. Lessard, who wore a mask and passed himself off as Daboul's "Uncle Tinous from Toledo," much to the Daboul family's delight.

One neighbor asked Mrs. Dahoul, "Was this in the marriage agreement?" She responded, "Yes, in Irish in the small print that I thought was a smudge."

"It couldn't have been a better day," Daboul says. Weather cooperated with sun and a light breeze. The crowd was friendly and everyone had a great time, including 93-year old Grandmother Eva Vincent.

After the parade, the viewing of the news and dinner at the Galley Hatch. the Dabouls went to the Boar's Head Inn for a party and a "Happy Camel Day" cake.

"All I have heard since Saturday," Daboul says, "is 'what are you going to do next year.'"

The camel-ride, Daboul says, is something that "just happened. You can't just plan something like that."

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