Mrs. Warren A. Croll, of Devon, began her fortieth year at The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair on Saturday— but she has never seen a single class, hackney or hunter, jumper or conformation pony, in all those years.
Mrs. Croll began her stint in the Devon cafeteria, along the famous Midway, forty years ago, as assistant to her mother, the late Mrs. Lewis C. Johnson, who chaired the booth which provides luncheons and dinners daily for the crowds swarming the largest outdoor horse show in the world. With Mrs. Edwin C. Schoettle Jr., Mrs. Croll has been co-chairman of this committee for the past seven years. But she began her stints with the most elementary of jobs—the making of a special family recipe mayonnaise,---as her mother's assistant in that day, long ago, when Main Line ladies with staffs of servants came to Devon and prepared salads, meats, homemade rolls and other delicacies, while in the background maids unpacked hampers of food to keep the volunteer staff going during the long hours.
With Mrs. Schoettle, she heads a committee of two hundred, including ten "captains of the day," each with twenty assistants. In addition to preparing two full meals daily for the spectators, Mrs. Croll stands ready to prepare and serve special dinners and luncheons arranged by visiting dignitaries—cither months ahead of time, or. as sometimes happens, just an hour or two before the group plans to entertain.
One such event, a Devon Annual, is the Armed Forces dinner given annually by Arthur C. Kaufmann, of Haverford, in honor of Brigadier General Milton C. Baker, before the Valley Forge Military Academy parade in the Wanamaker Oval. Guests include the officers for 1967—James K. Robinson Jr., president; Thomas Foster Bright, executive vice president; George A. Munger, vice president; Ward Sullivan; Henry C. Biddle Jr., secretary, and Frank H. Ellis 3d, treasurer, as well as John Burkholder, the show secretary.
But the anonymous, as well as the distinguished, will eat the mountains of Devon Salads —special recipe—steaks, roast beef, broiled chickens, shrimp which rotate on the menu. A specialite de la maison — an enormous cold boiled salmon prepared and decorated by the Barclay, in Philadelphia, is an annual feature which old committee members particularly look forward to.
Last year the cafeteria's biggest days were Memorial Day and the closing Championship Day: there were 356 luncheons and 478 dinners on the first, and 345 luncheons and 532 dinners on the last. The average number of dinners served was 333, luncheons, slightly lower, at 272.
Mrs. Croll consulted her famous "little book" to get these figures. The "little book" figures prominently in the conversation of Mrs. Cross's fellow committee personnel.
"We can find out not only how much money we took in at any given booth over the past forty years." say Mrs. Richard N. Bromley and Mrs. William W. Fogarty, "but what kind of weather we had on any given day—how the candy cotton was going—and how many children and goldfish were lost.
'We wouldn't know what to do without Mrs. Croll and that book!"
The cafeteria chairman finally got a look at what goes on in the ring, among the horses, last week. She attended a showing of John Biddle's film, taken last year, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Bright.
"Very interesting," was her comment. "I wonder if we're going to have enough Russian dressing for all of those salads this year?"
References: The Devon Horse Show Association by Elinor C. J. Sensenig, TEQ 12-3 (April 1963); Where Champions meet - The Devon Horse Show by Bob Goshorn, TEQ 32-3 (July 1994)