My great grandfather, S. Roy French, or "Poppy", as I called him was a restaurant man. As I've gotten older, and more and more interested in food, stories about Pop's culinary accomplishments have started to flow, baiting my curiosity and starting me on a search for traces of their history. On a recent visit to my great Aunt Nan's house, I was treated to a glimpse of some of the pictures and memorabilia that are still in our family's possession, including a photo of Pop's first bakery, The Pantry Shelf in Bronxville, New York, and printed announcements from the opening of his grandest endeavor, The Westchester Arms in Mamaroneck, New York. Unfortunately, I don't have those treasures to share with you online, but I did find a number of sites selling vintage postcards of both The Washington Arms, and Pop's other restaurant, The Birch Brook Inn (Bronxville, NY).
Interior, The Washington Arms, Mamaroneck, NY
Outside view of The Washington Arms, Mamaroneck, NY
In addition to these photos I was able to find a variety of random things online, like matchbooks from the Birch Brook Inn, and a bulletin board of folks reminiscing about the Washington Arms. I am even considering taking a trip to the public libraries in Bronxville and Mamaroneck to check out some of their old newspaper files.
So it turns out that cooking and eating are part of my blood, something that may not seem too surprising, but is nevertheless totally intriguing to me. My sisters and I grew up eating the things that made these places local legends, and whenever I taste our family's Lobster Bisque, or I mindlessly through together "special" on a lazy Sunday night, I remember the man who started it all, my childhood hero, my "Poppy". To a five year old with an over-active imagination the man was larger than life, and capable of just about anything. He was funny, stern, loving, and generous, everything a kid could ask for in a great grand dad. And boy, could he cook.