, Derry, New Hampshire


August 16, 2012

Column: Once, European royalty dined at Derry's Oxen Yoke


It next was transformed into a funeral parlor and in 1920 it became an automobile garage. In 1947, Coburn Tripp made the building into a restaurant named the Oxen Yoke. It passed through a number of owners until the 1960s when it operated by Woody (Woodrow, 1914-1979) and Pat (Paquerette, 1920-1996) Barrieau. He was very active in town politics and was one of the sparks that started Derry’s annual Labor Day festival.

On the early afternoon of July 31, 1971, Woody got a call from a stranger who identified himself only as a part of a security detail. The Derry man was told that the Oxen Yoke had the reputation of being a place where people could get “all the secrecy one wants.” He refused to tell the restaurant owner who was coming to town. Woody told the man that he could guarantee that “the guest would be able to dine in complete peace.”

About a half an hour later, a detail of plain-clothed American and French security guards arrived at the Broadway restaurant in Rambler, Ford and Plymouth station wagons. After checking out the dinning room, they gave the OK for their charges to come in. Then, to Woody’s amazement, the kitchen door opened and into the restaurant came Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. Along with them was their 6-year-old daughter Princess Stephanie and her governess. The four were quickly seated at a booth in the very back of the dining room.

None of the other diners in the nearly filled restaurant seems to have noticed the blond woman wearing dark glasses and a “pale-blue midi dress.” Woody remembered later that she wore no make-up. He remarked that the Academy Award-winning actress was “more beautiful than in her movies. She has natural beauty.” He didn’t have any comments about how the prince or the nanny looked. Maybe nobody else that afternoon noticed Grace Kelly that day but Woody sure did!

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