Who remembers The Poodle Dog, the renowned French restaurant that opened in San Francisco in the Gold Rush year of 1849 and triumphed through multiple reincarnations and stops and starts until its demise in 1985?
Oakmont's Cal Lalanne (lah-LAWN) recalls the place, so well.
He owned it for a time in its latter years, and as a kid he regularly ate his fill at its elegant tables with his parents and the French-born granddad — Calixte Lalanne — who created the third Poodle Dog after the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed the first two.
Lalanne, now 83, often thinks about his late parents, Louie Lalanne and Julie Bareillas Lalanne, and their parents and the family's famous restaurant. But Lalanne's memory and his heart have had a workout since a fat stack of old papers arrived in the mail a few days ago.
The documents came from Brenda Day of Hamilton, Ohio. She found them two years ago when somebody donated an antique dresser of drawers to the agency she works for, which serves disabled adults.
The drawers were full of rubbish and, scattered among it, many personal papers: Letters, marriage and U.S. naturalization certificates, photos, bills, canceled checks — and old menus from some oddly named restaurant in San Francisco.
Day told a boss about the personal documents, and he couldn't be bothered. "My supervisor instructed me to throw out the whole lot," she recalled.
She asked if she could keep them. Sure, he said.
So Day took the papers home and sorted them, finding that many featured the name of Catherine Baudorre Bareillas Perez. The name Lalanne appeared on others.
Among the menus, all from restaurants named The Poodle Dog or The Old Poodle Dog or some other manifestation, was one from the New Year's Dinner in 1918: