The View
from Here:
  Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the local film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
  July 2000
  One of the most authentic neighborhoods in St Barth is Flamands. Party because it hasn't changed much in the last few decades, and it is still one of the most family-oriented spots on the island. And the fact that at least half of the families that live there are part of the large Gréaux clan (just check the local phonebook and see how many Gréaux's there really are!) makes it all the more intimate.
  In fact when I first came to St Barth eleven years ago, my friend Nancy and I were on the beach in Flamands. It was one of those typical days in St Barth when there is hardly a cloud in the sky and hardly anybody else on the beach, although is was early December. The sun was hot overhead, so at one point we wanted to buy some bottles of water. I remembered seeing a small store on the road, so we walked back and found it open. Everybody seemed to know everybody else, and they were all standing around the front counter chatting. Pretty little gray-haired ladies with bare feet and beautiful straw hats with colorful ribbons. A few kids with cans of Orangina and Sprite. A man lifting cases of water into a car. Oddly enough no one was paying for anything. They stopped to chat and went out the door. No cash register is sight. Was this a company store? A family outpost? Can I buy some water I asked? Well, bien sur, of course.
  Three years later, when I'd married into the Gréaux clan myself, I discovered the secret to this little store. It is called the Epicerie Saint Helene. The island where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled? What connection could Saint Helene have with St Barthelemy I wondered. Well a little investigation revealed that the owner of the store is named Napoleon Gréaux... so that explains that. That left the mystery of the money. To make a long story short, many of the neighborhood denizens have accounts at the store. Buy now, the amount gets written down in a little notebook with your name written on the front in black magic marker, pay at the end of the month. If my husband has been doing this for the past 25 years, you can imagine how many notebooks he has used up (no charge for those I suppose...).
  The original owner of the store was Napoleon's father Lionel (they all have nicknames like TocToc and Boulon, but that's another story...). Napoleon's son, Honoré has recently taken over the baking side of the business, but for the last 65 years, their baker was a man named Antoine Gréaux. He began kneading bread in Flamands at the age of 12, when they used a great wood-burning oven for baking. Just this month, he and his wife, Marie, celebrated 50 years of marriage. A few weeks earlier, another Flamands couple, André and Julienne Gréaux celebrated their own golden anniversary, with many of their twelve children and thirteen grandchildren there to celebrate. One more couple will celebrate their 50 years together later this month.
  Now all we need to discover is the secret of the Gréaux longevity....

  More to come,

  Ellen Lampert-Greaux

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