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The American Dream

The American Dream

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Published by Camp Constitution

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Published by: Camp Constitution on Jun 12, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/19/2013

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TheAmericanDream-TheAmericanWay
WhenCecileandJean-PierreMourauxlandedatSanFranciscoInternationalAirportandexitedthePan-AmflighttosettleintheUSA,theywerefarfromthinkingthat,some30yearslater,theywouldbecomeUncleSamhistorians,writeabook
"WhoWasUncleSam?",
openanUncleSammuseum,andowntheUncleSam'shouse!Theywerecoming,fullofideasandcourage,tolivetheir
Americandream.
Theylivedit,the
Americanway.
AtoughAmericanway,fullofambushes.
It
gavemorespicetotheirAmericanadventurewhichcouldstartas
OnceUponaTime...
Letthemtelltheirstory.
"Itwasnotalwayseasy,sometimesverydifficult,atthelimitofdiscouragement.Butyouobtainnothingfornothing,youdon'tsucceedwithoutdifficulties.Itwouldbetooeasy(andboringl).Youhavetodeserveyoursuccess."
Theystatewithphilosophy.
"We'velivedamodernfairytale.Asinallthefairytales,therewerehardtimesandgoodtimes,tearsofdespairandtearsofhappiness."BeforewemadethedecisiontosettleintheUnitedStates,weoftentraveledthereandvisitedthecountrytomakesurethatitwasourpromisedland.Wecamewiththe"ideaofthecentury":tocreateatouroperatorcompanyspecializedforFrenchandFrench-speakingvisitors.Thegoalwastomakethemdiscoverandlovethiscountry,especiallyCaliforniaandtheSanFranciscoBayArea.Theideawasgood:Weinvestedallwhatwehad,obtainedthenecessarypermits,andsuccessdidnotwait.Touristswereflowingin,thehotelsrecommendedus.Ourcustomersweretellingtheirfriendsandgeneratedmoreclients.Thefuturewasrose-colored.Weweresatisfied.WeweredoingwellwhilehelpingtheFrenchliketheUSAanddestroyingtheirprejudicesagainstthiscountry.Whatelsecouldweaskfor?Wecouldnotimagineabettersituation.
 
Aftertwosuccessfulyears,weinvestedmoreandmore,boughtadditionalbuses,andwereveryconfidentinthefuture.WewerefarfromthinkingthattheFrenchpoliticswereabouttokillus.OntheothersideoftheAtlanticOcean,anewpresidentwaselected.FrancoisMitterand,asocialistpresident,formedasocialo-communistgovernment.Rumorsstartedthat,forfearofasocialo-communistthreat,theFrenchmonetarycapitalsweregoingtofleethecountry.Asapreventivemeasure,thegovernmentsetupastrictexchangecontrolwhichprovedtobeacatastropheforthetouristindustry.TheydidnotforbidtheFrenchtogoabroadbutlimitedtheirspendingallowanceinforeigncountriesto$200peryearandperperson,andprohibitedthemfromusingtheircreditcards.
98%
ofourreservationswerecanceled.Wewereruinedwithalotofdebt.Allour"friends"turnedtheirbacksonus.Thegoodideahadbecomeanightmare.Wecouldnotpayourrentanymoreandwereatriskofbecominghomeless.Theeasysolutionwastofileforbankruptcy,nottopayourrentandwaittobekickedout.Werejectedthissolution:ourbanktrustedus,wecouldnotbetraythem.Ourlandlordtrustedus,bynotbeingabletopayhimanymore,wehadtovacatetheplace.WesoldthefewitemswehadtoraisethenecessarydeposittorentatinybasementdwellinginatoughSanFrancisconeighborhood.Ourbankwasveryunderstandableanddecidedtograntustimetogiveusachancetorecover.Whatdoyoudowhenyoudon'thaveasingledollarandnocar?Youhavetofindanimmediatesolutiontosurvive.Itcameoutwithbaby-sitting.Atthistime,$2.00andhour,itwassimple:$2.00x10hoursadaysx30daysamonthx
2
persons
=
$1,200.00.Enoughtopaytherentandutilities,andthe"dandelionsaladandbacon"thatweateeverydayforsixmonths.Aswedidnothaveanyvehicle,noinsuranceandgasolineexpenses.Justpainfullegsbecauseofthehoursofwalkingeverydaytogobackandforthtoourworkingplaces.Thenasilverlining:Cecilefoundafull-timebabysittingjobwithahigherpayforawonderfulfamily.Ababy-sittingcustomerasked
if
wewouldbewillingtodosomehouse-cleaning,whichwouldpaybetter.Iacceptedimmediately.MyyearsintheFrenchNavytaughtmeeverything,especially"scrubbingandscouring".Whatapromotion:from$2.00upto$6.00.Wewereseeingtheendofthetunnel.Mycustomerwasverypleasedwiththequalityofmyworkandrecommendedmetohisfriends,whorecommendedmetootherfriends...
 
VeryquicklyIbecametheinvoguehouse-cleanerofSanFranciscoandtheBayArea.Iwasofferedthenightlymaintenanceofafour-storystoreandofaschool.Whilekeepingourdailyjobsofhouse-cleaningandbaby-sitting,weweredoingcommercialmaintenanceatnight.Word-of-mouthbroughtusmorebuildingmaintenance.Wewerebusyeighteenhoursaday.Dollarsstartedflowinginagain-westartedpayingbackthebank,boughtappropriateequipmentandvehicles,andcreateda"completeservice"cleaningcompany:Commercialmaintenance,residentialandcommercialcarpetcleaning,windowwashing,andspringcleaning.Wehiredemployees.Wewerebackontrack.Tenyearslater,anotheropportunityshowedup.Numerouscustomershadpets,catsordogs.I'vealwayshadapassionforanimalsandanimalsreturnmyaffection.WhereverIworked,petshappilywelcomedme.Severalcustomerstoldmethattheirdogslovedmeandasked
if
Icouldwatchthemthefollowingweek-endorwhentheywereinvacation.That'showcametheideaofopeningahotelforcatsanddogs.Soonour"nopets"rentalhousebecametoosmall.WewereluckytojindafarminSonomaandHappyPetsInnwasborn.Wesoldourcleaningcompanyandstartedworkingfull-timeinournewbusiness.WewereprovidingourSanFranciscocustomerswithadailyshuttleservice.Aftertwoyearsofoperationwehadtheopportunitytobuythepropertynextdoorandopenahotelforcats.Todecoratethisnewhouse,Iboughtanoriginalposterpicturingcats.Theremayhavebeenavirusinthisoldpieceofpaperbecauseour"catsanddogs"postercollectionisnowreaching300originallithographs.Captivatedbythegraphicarts,Idecidedtostudyandbecameanexpertinvintageandantiqueprintsandposters.Ispentnightslearning,readingover200booksaboutposters.WhileCecilewasrunningthepethotel,Iopenedanartandpostergallery.Andonceagain,chancestruck.WecompiledacollectionofWorldWarIposters,withamongthemthefamousUncleSam's"IWantYou".IwantedtoknowmoreaboutUncleSamandhisorigins.Afteraskingthequestion"WhoWasUncleSam?"thousandsoftimesIfoundoutthatmostpeoplethoughtthatUncleSamwasafictitiouscharacter.OneofmycustomerstoldmethathehadlearnedthatUncleSamwasarealpersonwhowasborninArlington,Massachusetts,closetoBoston.Wedecided,ononehand,tostartcollectingandspecializinginUncleSamprintsandposters,andontheotherhand,toengageinthesearchoftherealUncleSam.

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