Dr. Jean Griffin: Keep on Growing

Jean Griffin

Growth has always occupied the central plank in the life of Dr. Jean Griffin.

As a child, she and her family owned and operated Wash and Sons, the iconic Northside eatery across the street from Club Harlem and next to Grace’s Little Belmont.

“My mother would make dinner at the sandwich shop for her family. People would smell the food and ask my mother to sell them something. That’s how we started making meals instead of just sandwiches. Everybody in the family worked. We kids had to clean fish, cut chicken, peel cucumbers, and shuck peas.”

As a young adult Jean left the booming family business to nurture a career in Philadelphia.

“At that time I was a single mom with three kids. After getting my doctorate at Temple, my first job was at Yale, where I ran the Drug Dependency Institute. We trained people who worked in drug abuse. Then I married a guy from Boston and taught at UMass-Boston until retirement.”

After cultivating the family business and her own career, Jean returned to Atlantic City, where her backyard garden would make a farmer envious.

“My mother always had a garden on Michigan Avenue from the days they were Victory Gardens during World War II. When I came back here, my kids gave me these raised beds. I get 60-70% of my vegetables out of here.”

With a family that includes five children, 13 grandchildren, and soon to be 10 great grandchildren, Jean might have to expand her plantings and set some extra places at “Wash’s table.”

-John “Yonk” Rosnick

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