The Famous Elsie''s of Harvard Square
Elsie J. Baumann 89, a resident of Falmouth died February 3rd at the J.M.L. Care Center. She was the wife of Henry Baumann who died in 1991. They had been married for 58 years.
Born in Nurnberg, Germany, she carne to America with her husband and two young sons to escape the Nazi regime in 1938. They settled in Lowell, MA before moving to Boston. In the late 1940''s Elsie and Henry bought a small restaurant which they named Hunter''s Lunch. After four years that property was taken by eminent domain in order to build a section of the Southeast Expressway.
In 1955 after working at Jack & Marion''s Deli in Brookline they found and bought a small sandwich shop in the Harvard Square area of Cambridge. They named the place Elsie''s, and the business flourished under their hard work. The business was open from 6 A.M. when Henry managed the day shift. Elsie worked evenings, and closed the shop at 1 A.M. seven days a week. The place became famous for the 50 cent roast beef sandwiches and the huge Fresser''s Dream sandwich. Customers from far and near frequented the place including Harvard students Karim Aga Khan and the Kennedy brothers. For ten years professors and students from Harvard, M.I.T., Radcliffe, and other colleges relied on Elsie''s fine food. An article in the Harvard Lampoon referred to Elsie as the 'adopted mother of Harvard' since she took the time to listen to the students and offer words of encouragement. On many occasions she and Henry invited students who were far from home to their home in Arlington for Thanksgiving. After ten years of hard work, Elsie had a heart attack and the business was sold.
A year of rest and a trip to Germany gave the couple renewed energy to seek another business. In 1966 they found 'the Greenhouse' an ice cream shop on Palmer Avenue in Falmouth, and they started Elsie''s. They thought that it would be a little lunch place. The business lasted for twenty years, and in its heyday there were lines of customers out the door. The two sons moved their families to Falmouth to help in the operation. That business location was sold in 1986. Crabapples Restaurant now occupies the space.
Elsie is survived by two sons, Edward and Rudolph of Falmouth, their spouses, Agnes and Wendy, and four grandchildren: Michael, Eric, and Kurt from Falmouth and Heidi Baumann Radtke from Alexandria,VA. She also has two great granddaughters, Abigail and Casey.
A public memorial service will be held on Tuesday, February 12 at 11 A.M. at the First Congregational Church in Falmouth.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Elsie''s name may be made to either the Falmouth Visiting Nurse Association, 434 Route 134, S. Dennis, MA, 02660 or the Falmouth Fire and Rescue Department, 399 Main St, Falmouth, MA, 02540