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Edited and footnoted by her daughter, Veronique Jurczyk-Willett I did not change much of the text at all to keep it in the original style of my mother’s words. September 2007
In my mother’s memory (1925-1996)
Mother and Daughter
A Poem by Veronique Willett. Copyright 1985
Mother. Mother of my years. Teacher of my mind. Many times we turn to each other in anger and pain. Daughter. Daughter of my youth. Child of my body. Many times we look to each other in love and joy. Mother. Don’t cry so. Don’t let me hear the sorrow I cause for staying away. But let me see that smile in the lines of your face. Daughter. Don’t rebel so. Don’t let me see the anguish I cause for keeping you near. But let me hear the laughter that comes from your heart. Mother. I need you. Daughter. I am here. Always close to your thoughts, to your love. Daughter. I need you. Mother. I am here. Always close to your heart, to your soul. Daughter. When I go, be here. Mother. When I go, be there. Daughter. You’re the child I wish to be. Mother. You’re the woman I shall become. Daughter. I love you. Mother. I love you. Forever last, Forever cherish, The love of Mother and Daughter.
I looked for my childhood in the deepest of my memory, It is as a voice telling me secrets, For only me today, a very old story, Carrier of happiness where floats some regrets.
At Rue Jacques Henri, La Rochelle Laleu, Chte. Mme., France A big great house, I was born there in my parents' bedroom downstairs at 4.30 A.M. This was on 10 October, 1925. My mother was Marie Madeleine (Castagner) Favreau and my father was Joseph (Gaston) Favreau. A Midwife, Madame Célérier, delivered me. I was baptized on 12 November, 1925. My godfather was my grandfather (I don't remember him at all as he died on the 23rd of February, 1929); my godmother was my grandmother (my mother's mother). In the summer of 1925, Pierre was sent to Cram-Chaban to Titine's house, a friend of the family. When he came back home in September, he looked at my mother and said, "you look like Titine's cow who just had a calf." The bed in which I was born is now in Burlington, Massachusetts, in what was Véronique's room (Footnote: this is now in my house in Tampa Florida as part of my guest room). I was told that my mother very often sang to me, to calm me down when I cried, a song called “LA CHANSON DU VANNEER.” The house was big and pleasant with a garden in front. Along the house were many bushes of pink roses, these types of roses cannot be found any more, they were called “des roses mousses.” Those roses bloomed in May, the month consecrated to Mary in the Catholic Church. In church one Sunday, in the month of May, at the vesper, there were little girls dressed in white, wearing a white crown on their heads, and carrying in front of them, a basket covered with a white material that was held by white ribbons. In the basket were rose petals that the little girls would throw in front of the Holy Sacrament. Once, I was one of these little girls and I was so proud. In the garden was also an Acacia (tree), with a bench under it, where we sat many times in the good weather. The garden was closed on the street side by a wall surmounted by a wrought iron metal fence. There was a cement walk along the house, in which every so often ground had been left for the roses to grow. My brothers pushed my carriage on this walk, and Jacques one time missed the walk; I was not hurt; they found me in the hood. How well I remember this house with a huge kitchen where my mother cooked. A long table where we all sat to eat; at that time there were my mother and father, Pierre, Jacques, Jean, Christiane, and my great grandmother, Grand Mere Marie. On one of the walls were many pots and pans in copper. Across from it was a grandfather clock. Downstairs, besides the kitchen and the pantry, there was a dining room, a sitting room, a bedroom and bathroom, and a laundry room. Next to the kitchen there was a big garage; we could have put two cars in it. In this garage was a trap going to the wine cellar. On the other side of the garage there was another big kitchen. My mother used this kitchen, which had a fire place for cooking, when we had killed a pig. There, my mother and some helpers cooked sausages, blood sausages, all sorts of delicious pies, and made delicious hams. The ham was first marinated with lots of herbs, and then put in salt. I do not remember for how long, but then it was sent to the baker to dry. We ate this ham with eggs from our own chickens and it was delicious. I have never found such a tasty ham anywhere else.
Above the wine cellar was my father's office, which opened on the back of the house. There was also a room where we stored our coal, wood, etc. The laundry room also opened at the back of the house. It made it easy to carry the laundry to the garden to dry. In front of the house there were two doors, one entering the kitchen and the other upon a hall in which, on the right, was a door to the bedroom. On the left was a door to the dining-sitting room, another door for the stairs going to the first floor (second floor in America), and at the end of the hall was a door going to the toilet and to the laundry room. Upstairs there were three bedrooms. We had fireplaces in each room, as at one time that was the way the rooms were heated. When I was ten my father had central heating installed. He surprised my mother. He had it installed when she was away on vacation with me, and when we got home it was all done. My father's hobby was his wine cellar. He would order the wine and it was delivered in a cask. He was also getting the labels and the special caps. Sometimes everybody was involved putting the wine in bottles. The bottles had to be washed and drained. The wine was put in the bottle and then put in the machine that put the cork in the bottle. Labels were glued on the bottle and the special cap was put on top of the cork. The wine bottles were then taken to the wine cellar. My father must have had at least one thousand bottles or more of red wine, white wine, dry and sweet, and of course champagne, “La Veuve Cliquot.” On Sunday, we always had a good bottle of wine with our meal from my father's cellar. He was very proud of it and, if we had company, he always showed them his wine cellar. When I was a couple of years old, my hair was not growing the right way, and according to my mother it looked awful. She asked her hairdresser what she could do. He told her that the best thing would be to shave it, and he was sure that it would grow back very nicely. So she had my hair shaved and when she was taking me out she made me wear a bonnet to which she had sewed a piece of hair, a curl. When in the trolley one day somebody was admiring my hair and said to my mother, “She has curly hair?” My mother said yes, and then suddenly I took off my bonnet, and the woman screamed, “Oh Lord! She is bald!” I was very happy as a little girl in this house with my brother Pierre whom I adored, and Jacques and Jean, and my sister Cricri (Christiane) who was almost a second mother. I was happy playing as all little girls play, sometimes in the dining room under the table. I played pretending it was my house, the same table that I have now in the dining room at Burlington (Footnote: This is now in my formal dining room in Tampa). I was happy waiting at Christmas for “Le Père Noel” and the turkey, the “bûche" (a special cake that is rolled and filled with butter cream flavored with chocolate or coffee; you only have this cake at Christmas), and the candies. My father always ordered many candies; all kinds of delicious chocolates, des dragées, and des marrons glacés (chestnuts) which was my favorite candy. My first bad encounter was when I was shot in the right arm by my grandmother's husband; it was a hunting accident. I was four years old. I still remember been carried through two gardens, then through the courtyard before getting to the house. My grandmother and her husband were visiting and unfortunately, he was the one who shot me. He could not talk because his throat had been operated on for cancer, and, as he wanted me to move, he used the shotgun to tell me to move. I remembered the weeks of pain even after I was back home. When the surgeon saw my arm, he wanted to cut it off, but Doctor Quantin, our family Doctor (I owe him a lot), insisted that he try everything that was possible to save it. Then I was well again, and off to school I went. (Footnote: You could still see some of the pellets in my mother’s elbow left from the shot.) At Christmas, I put my shoes in front of the fireplace like the other French children. One year, I remember getting one of those little red cars that worked with pedals; I was thrilled. Another year, I got a bicycle. I also had a big doll, almost as big as I was. I called her Ninette. I loved her a lot. I also got a small
desk and a chair. Attached to the desk were beads to teach me how to count. At Easter, my father always bought a hen made of chocolate, where inside was little eggs made of sugar. I liked to play ball and jump rope. I played sometimes with the children who lived next door. Their parents were from Czechoslovakia; they came to work on the farm. There were two girls, Catherine and Marie. They were very religious people and attended Mass regularly. I also played with a boy who lived across the street; his father worked with Monsieur Goujon, his name was Guy Breton. Across the street from my parent’s house, was a neighbor, Madame Goujon. She did not have any children, so I was very often at her house. She was part of a small group of ladies who gathered once a week at each other's house for tea and cakes and, at the same time, they would crochet or knit for the church fair. Madame Goujon often took me to these small gatherings, as I was well behaved, and I loved to go because of the goodies. I also went with her to the beach in La Rochelle. There were large tents on the beach where you could sit if there was too much wind, or you also could change your clothes there. In those days, the beach was not crowded as it is now. When I was small, Christiane and Pierre were still at the house. Christiane looked over what I was doing, and when I had a rash, she was the one who would calm me down, and tell me stories. The problem was that I never wanted the story to end, and I always said, “et pi et pi encore,” that means, after and after. Pierre and I got along fine as I was his little sister, and in the late afternoon when my mother was busy taking care of the chickens, etc., Pierre would get his bike, put me on the handlebars, and would take me out for a little ride, until one of the neighbors told my mother, and that was the end of it. Another day he took me to the coast. The tide was low and where we walked it was a very muddy, sticky mud, and he had problem getting me out of there. I was wearing a white dress, so you can imagine what the dress looked like after this escapade. Pierre told my mother, don’t be mad at me. He had never been so scared, when he thought he would not be able to get me out of that mud. Pierre was so full of life and ready for mischief at any time. One time Pierre and Jacques were sent to a field to clear it, and burn what was left of the potato plants that had been dug out. While doing this task, they found some potatoes and they decided to cook them. Pierre caught a small field mouse and decided to cook it too. Apparently, they gave me a piece of the mouse to eat. When I got back to the house, I told my mother. She was not too pleased. Pierre, when he was young, was a very sensitive child, and when my mother read to him “La chêvre de Monsieur Seguin,” the story of a goat who is eaten by a wolf, he always cried. Pierre was sent to Bordeaux to go to school. He stayed at my grandmother's house. I missed him a lot. La Rochelle at the time was a small town built in the middle ages with a lot of History. There, the Protestants were persecuted and Richelieu and his troops sieged the town and the Rochelais had to give up. The Rochelais thought that they could receive help from the British, but to stop it, Cardinal Richelieu had a wall built across the entrance of the harbor and the British were prevented to bringing help to the Rochelais. When the tide is low, you still can see the remains of this wall. Laleu was a country village with many farms; it was not far from La Rochelle, and when I was a little girl, there was a trolley going to La Rochelle; so we could appreciate the country life and still be in town in no time. Later we had buses. The Protestants were well organized during the troubled times in La Rochelle. They had tunnels going to different places, and to the harbor. It was discovered that they also had underground rooms for their meetings. It is said that during the siege of La Rochelle, Cardinal Richelieu stayed at a chateau at Laleu, and that it is why this castle is named “Le Chateau Richelieu.” It is also said that sometimes at night you can see the ghost of his “Red Eminence.” After the Revocation of the “Edit de Nantes,” many Protestants left
for America. Faneuil here in Boston was one of them. Don's (Footnote: Donald Willett – My Dad) ancestors, Gallaudet and De Ste Croix, also left and were among the people who founded New Rochelle. La Rochelle is really a very pretty town with its old houses, a beautiful Town Hall, a very picturesque harbor, and if any one likes a place with a lot of history, La Rochelle is the place for you. When my mother got married, there was a maid to help with the housework. My mother did not like to have somebody there all the time, so she let her go, and instead, got a woman to come to the house a couple of days a week. Her name was Louise, but I called her Lise. One day my mother saw her using her handkerchief to blow my nose. She told her to use mine which was in my pocket. At that time I turned to Louise and I said “elle est bête Maman dit Lise?” (is not Mother stupid Lise?) I got a good spanking. We also had somebody to do the wash every single Monday. In the laundry room, there was some kind of washing machine that had a fire under it, which would bring the water to the boiling point, and the whites were put in there. To get the clothes out of the machine, there was a sort of huge wooden tongs. The clothes were taken out of the machine and plunged in a huge wooden tub filled with cold water. The clothes came out very white. I always wanted to watch. The whole process fascinated me. The laundry room was big, so in winter the clothes and sheets could easily be dried there. In the summer, of course, they were hung in the garden. I don't think that I have talked about the gardens. We had two huge gardens, all surrounded by walls. At the back of the first garden, we had some pigeons. To enter the second garden, which was also big, we had to open a metal door. In this second garden there were two alleys going to the court yard of the farm. I remembered one year my mother had some geese and the male was always pinching my legs, so when I saw it near a gate, I would run to the other gate, but he always beat me to it. We had everything in those gardens, all kinds of fruits, plums, peaches, pears and apricots (huge ones, which were very juicy). We had walnut trees, an almond tree, and Hazel nut trees. We also had a lot of vegetables, tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, etc. My mother made a lot of jam, and put many of the beans up for the winter. We also had during the winter, sausages, ham, etc., that my mother prepared when we killed a pig. In the courtyard of the farm, we had chickens, rabbits, and a stable with a couple of horses. I still remember one that was called Moustache. He was my favorite, and I always brought him some sugar, he loved it. Because we did not have any cows we went to get our milk at the Gateau's farm, we had a special container for the milk and we had fresh milk everyday. (The milk was boiled before being used.) There was also a couple of small houses, where people working for my father, were living. On the farm, we grew wheat, oats, and potatoes. In summer, the wheat and the oats were cut and brought to the courtyard and piled up in a huge pile waiting to be threshed. Threshing was an important time in the summer. One threshing machine went from farm to farm. People would go to help wherever the machine was. When it was at our farm, we gave drinks to the men working there, as it was very hot and dusty. I was in charge of the drinks and I took my role very seriously. 'Me men called me "La petite patronne," the little boss. My mother would have tables in the garage as we were feeding most of the men. I was always very excited when the machine came to the farm. Pierre would come home from school, and it was fun to have him back. He also came home after he was on a merchant boat. The neighbors knew he was there because he was noisy, and the house full of life again. One time, he was wearing the type of pants the Arabs in Algiers wore, and people were really looking at him. Another time he wore shorts to visit my aunt's store, and she was horrified, as in those days you did not wear shorts on the streets. Jean also lived with us; he did not go to school for very long as he hated school. He entered a restaurant as a helper in view of learning a trade, to be later on a Chef. Jacques also left; he went to an Agricultural
School. When he graduated, he became the "intendant" for a rich family in the Beauce. Later, he went to Morocco to do his military service in the "Goumiers." Christiane finally left too; she went to work in Champdeniers, where she was developing photos for one of the pharmacies there. She had a friend, whose parents had a shoe store there, and I remember spending some time with her there. Later on, she opened a store selling hats; she had a very good clientele and it lasted until the war was over. In the early days in Champdeniers, there was a market every Saturday. It was a very busy place, and you could find all kinds of merchandise, including live animals. I attended a Catholic School until I was eight years old. The school was next to the church, a distance for my little legs. I went back and forth four times, in those days there were no buses to take the children to school, and nobody complained. On my way to school, there was a little store, called in French "épicerie." If I had "un sou ou deux," (one or two pennies) I could buy some licorice that was rolled and had a colored pearl (sugar) in the middle. One of the children had a grandmother who had a cart pulled by a donkey, and if they saw me, they told me to get in. I thought it was great. The school was run entirely by the nuns. While I was little, the nuns gave us a type of candy that was red and was called "coquelicot." The nuns were very strict. At one time, my father realized that I was writing pages of material, but I could not read them. He went to see the nun, Sister Marguerite, and not too long after that, I could read very well. In church, the children from the Catholic School sat by themselves and the public school children sat in different benches. When I left the Catholic School, being used to sit with the Children of the Catholic Schools, I sat with them, when suddenly a nun came and pulled me out and told me to go and sit on the other benches. I was very upset and came back home crying; I told my mother what happened. My mother went to see Madame Goujon, who knew the nuns very well, and told her that she did not think much of what they did, and because of it she would not send any thing to them for the holidays. The next Saturday, I remembered not to sit with the Catholic School children, but suddenly again, a nun came to get me and told me to go and sit with the Mother Superieur. It was an honor, but as a child, I thought I was being punished, and came home crying again. When I was three of four, I liked to go to the "retraite aux flambeaux," the night before 14 July. It is really a type of parade, with only musicians playing military marches, and people followed them down the streets with lights. I never wanted to go home and my father would follow the musicians carrying me on his shoulders. One thing we always had in winter was a kind of candy called Zan, it was a kind of licorice but with a lot stronger taste and it was in one piece as thick as a child's wrist. My father would cut pieces with a knife and a hammer; it was good for the throat. One night, I can't remember if it was in Summer or Winter, we were waken up as the garage next door was on fire. It was scary; we could see red ashes flying everywhere, as it was very windy. We thought our garage was going to be set on fire also, but the firefighter did a good job, and thank God, only the garage next door burnt to the ground. The rumors were that Monsieur Goujon had set the fire, as his business was not good and this way he collected the insurance. Actually, he never rebuilt the garage. I received Piano lessons, starting I think, when I was six or seven. My piano teacher was blind. Sometimes, when I had some exercises on the piano, and I had to use my little fingers, I decided that as she could not see, I could use another finger. She reminded me, that if she could not see, she could hear, and that definitely the sound was different when I was using a different finger. She could play the piano so well, and when I had done a good job, she would play for me my favorite piece, "Le Marche Persan." I do not know who wrote it.
I also had a teacher who came to the house a couple of days a week. He checked what I had been doing in class, and gave me some help when it was needed. He also gave me singing lessons. I attended the Public school for four years. I spend a lot of my time either at school or in church. At the age of ten, I made my Solemn Communion. In those days, it was an important affair. My mother and I went to Bordeaux to have our outfits made. Like all the young girls, I had a lovely long white dress, a long veil, white shoes, gloves, etc. We had a few guests, and my mother had the dinner catered. My mother had a beautiful black dress with a big black hat adorned with white feathers. I received many presents; I was very happy. One time Pierre's ship was in Lorient and Pierre invited my father, mother and me for lunch on board; it was great. We also went to eat some "crepes Bretonnes," near Lorient not far from where Yves Bienvenu, Dominique's and Alain's father, was born. The following year, after I made my communion, I took an exam in view of going to another school. I passed the exam and was accepted in a school in town, "Le College de Jeunes Filles." Everything was great; I met many lovely young ladies, and was very busy between piano lessons and gymnastic lessons. In summer, we went on vacation to "Aux Eaux Bonnes" in the Pyrenees. My father's favorite spot, because when he was a young man, he was in the army in Tarbes in the Pyrenees. It was very pleasant there; we were not far from Lourdes where we always stopped for a while. We stayed at the Hotel de L'Europe where the owner was a friend of my father's. Christiane one time came with us, and when she took the elevator, it stopped suddenly. She was stuck there for a while, and as the elevator was not enclosed people going up and down, could look at her. She looked like she was in a cage. My father likes to go for walks in the mountains, and one day decided to take Christiane and me. For a while, it was all right, but soon I started to complain that I was tired and thirsty. Water was coming out of the mountain and I wanted to get a drink, but my father did not want me to drink this water. He promised me that when we reached the top of the mountains we would find some cows, and he would ask the shepherd for a drink of milk. Well, when we reached the top, no cows, they had move to another pasture, and you can imagine how I felt! In "Les Eaux Bonnes," we always stayed at the same hotel. I remember that it had a small river at the back, and from our room we could hear the water running. We always did some sight seeing; we went to "Les Eaux Chaudes" where the water coming out of public fountains is hot. Les "Eaux Bonnes" is well known by people who have respiratory problems; they go there to drink the water etc. It is what in France we called "Allez en cure." At Easter, my mother and I went to Labouyere in the Landes not far from Bordeaux. All around the town were miles and miles of pine trees. It smelled so good. We stayed at a small hotel, and as we came back every year, we got to know the owner, Monsieur Fronsac, very well. They had a son Marc. He was a little bit older than I, and sometimes if the weather was not good enough to play outside, he would run a movie for us. I had met some kids from the town, and I had a great time playing croquet or sliding on the dunes until the bottom of my panties were almost gone. Girls did not wear slacks in those days. We also took long walks in the forest. We attended Easter Mass there, and the boys who helped at the Mass, always managed to get quite a bit of "the brioche," which had been blessed, to give to the parishioners, and they always gave some to me. I also went sometimes to spend a few weeks in the Landes where one of my mother's great aunts lived. 'Voncle Bertin" was in charge of the bookkeeping of a factory, which belonged to a "Marquis" who was living
in a castle not far from the town. Their house belonged to the "Marquis." It was a big house, with two floors. They also had a huge garden with many fruits trees, and l'oncle Bertin would spend hours there, taking care of the trees. He had many varieties of apples ("pommes"), and he always brought some back to the house before going to work. He always gave me some, so I called him, "Tonton pomme." Next to the garden, they had a big meadow, which sloped down to a pond. They had their own chickens, and it is strange to think, that every single night we had eggs prepared in different ways for dinner, and both my uncle and aunt lived into their eighties and did not die of a heart attack. The village was not very big, and all around it were forests of pine trees. On the other side of the pond, during the summer, gypsies would make camp. I always remember a story my mother told me: one day one of the gypsy woman had a baby, and after she delivered it, she jumped in the pond for a swim. The Bertin's had two boys, who of course were near my mother's age. There was Pierre and Paul, and a girl who had died in 1918, from the "Grippe Espagnole." It is the way it was called in France. It was a type of flu that killed thousands of people. I also went to Cram-Chaban for a few days during the summer. There lived Titine and Alice. Titine took care of the house and Alice took care of the animals and of the outside. The house was old and did not have inside plumbing. In the kitchen, there was a huge fireplace where Titine cooked, and heated the water. When we wanted some hot water, first we had to get some water from the pump outside the door, and then put it in a special kettle in the fireplace, and wait until it was hot. They were two bedrooms. The one where I slept was a big room with two beds, with canopies made of linen with white and red squares, and we had to climb on a chair to get in. There were no spring boxes but instead a huge container made of thick material like the one used to make mattresses, filled with cornhusks, and every day Titine would put her hands in some slits, two on each side, and shake the cornhusks. On top of it was a mattress made of feathers. In the bedroom was a grandfather clock that we could hear every fifteen minutes, but at that time it did not prevent me to sleep. The other bedroom was upstairs. Titine and Alice slept in a type of alcove off the kitchen, and that way could keep warm in winter. During the summer, there were two plum trees that ripened in the meadow, and Titine would make huge tarts that she would take with the wheelbarrow to the baker to be baked. There was only a small shop in the village, but the butcher would come in a special truck to sell his meats, and also the fish was sold the same way. Because they did not have an oven, everything that had to be baked was taken to the bakery. They had a few cows and sometimes I would have gone with Alice to watch them in the meadow. When Alice was milking the cows I would sometimes come with a glass, and I would drink the "fresh" milk. This village was a very quiet place and nothing much was ever going on there. I always liked to go there in summer as life there was so different from the one at home.
MY TEENAGE YEARS
However, trouble was not far off. In 1935-1936, the Communists started to create problems everywhere strikes, demonstrations, etc. Each time we turned around, the government was changed and a new Cabinet had to be chosen. In 1936, Blum was at the Head of the Government. There were many strikes in La Rochelle. The communists would parade singing the "Internationale," and they prevented people to work. Because of the bus strike, men were driving the bus under the protection of the police. In Labouyere, some workers destroyed all the containers that were on the pine trees to collect the sap. In La Rochelle the Communists paraded through the town, stopping cars and making a mess of the traffic. One evening, at the time of my communion, I was dressed in my communion dress and we were coming back from Cram-Chaban. We had visited Titine and Alice and brought them the traditional Communion cake. This "galette" (following tradition) is given to all the people you visit. The communists were blocking most of the streets, and my father could not get through; he called on one he knew, and suddenly they shouted, "It is Gaston, let him go through, let him go through." I was very frightened. My father worked for an English Company (The Pacific Line), which had liners going to South America. He was in charge of hiring men to load the cargo on the ship. One day the workers decided to go on strike just at the time there were expecting the ship, and they had a special train coming from Paris and going all the way to the La Pallice harbor. The communists had sworn that they would prevent all passengers to board the ship. My father, with a few people from the company, went to the train station in La Rochelle. He had rented some buses and a boat at the La Rochelle harbor. When the train came in, he addressed the passengers, explained the situation, and told them to hurry up and get into the busses. They drove to the La Rochelle harbor, and there again they had to hurry. Everything went smoothly, and the Communists could not believe what my father had managed to do under their noses. Among the passengers, many times my father noticed that there were German Jews leaving Germany for South America. Before the war, my grandmother lived in Bordeaux, and sometimes during vacation, I would go and spend some time with her. She had some cousins, and of course, mine too, who also lived in Bordeaux. They were Rene and Yvonne Sauvage. Rene had his mother living with them, Marguerite. She was from Jewish descent as her father was Jewish but not her mother. She was raised in the Catholic faith. She was a very short woman with very black eyes and black hair. She was the boss in that house. Both she and Yvonne had a business at home, making baby bonnets made of tulle and laces. It was a very good business. With my grand mother, I would go to a Park called, "Le Jardin Publique." In the past, before the revolution, it was called the Royal Jardin; there were many children there. She also took me to the "Cimetiere Nord" in Bordeaux to visit the grave of my great grandfather. This cemetery had some big statues on some graves, and one represented death, which was full size and carried a scythe. It had been weathered, which made the statue, for me as a child, a very scary thing; to this day, I still remember it. Later on, I also visited my grandfather's grave. He had deserted my grandmother after my mother was born; he was not a decent man. I never really met him. In his later years, he married again, but he never had any children. In Bordeaux, we also visited Cousine Jeanne, she was a cousin of my grandmother. She lived in the center of town and I loved to go up and down the street, Rue St. Catherine, where I could find many shops, especially jewelry stores. My mother, when she was single, worked in one of the jewelry stores. My great grandmother lived with us before the war. She was an extremely intelligent lady. She was an avid reader, and seemed to remember everything she had ever read. When I had problems with my schoolwork, I would sometimes ask her some questions. She always knew the answer, but could talk about it for hours. I
remember her telling me that she saw Napoleon III when he came to Bordeaux. She died during the war in 1942, and was buried in the cemetery in Laleu. After the war, her remains were transferred to the family grave in Bordeaux, according to her wishes. We called her grandmere Marie. Her last name was Montesquieu, but originally it was Montesquiou. The family originally came from the Pyrenees; I believe Artix (Pyrenees-Atlantiques), which made some people think that the family was related to d'Artagnan, the Musketeer. It was never proven, one way or another. In 1938, there were black clouds on the horizon, but the adults tried to ignore them. In the summer of 1938, my father sent me to Cram-Chaban. He had some friends there, and Therese, and Annie who was just a baby, joined me there. Nothing much happened then, so we all went home, and in October, I went back to school. We started to hear about the new man at the head of Germany, an Austrian apparently. Daladier was Minister of the Defense in 1936/37, he was the one who signed with Germany, the Munich Treaty in 1938. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and because of the treaty signed between France and Poland, Daladier declared war with Germany. Reynaud succeeded Daladier in March 1940, and on 16 June, he resigned. I cannot remember too well what really happened that year. I might have gone back to Cram-Chaban for the summer, but I was home in September, yes, in September of 1939 (the first of September 1939, the Germans invaded Poland), when we heard the sirens, and the bells, and I was told that we were at war with Germany. The Government was calling for a general mobilization; one month later, I turned fourteen. That year in school was very good; I had lovely friends like Anne Ducourneau. Her parents had a shoe store right on the Place de Verdun. Also Lisette Caspecha, her parents owned the Cafe de La Paix and the Cinema, also facing the Place de Verdun. Madeleine Babieau, who belonged to the Protestant church, was also one of my friends. I also had Colette Piot, her parents had a bakery. Sometimes on Sunday, I would go in town and go to church with Colette. They were all well brought up. Right at the beginning of the year, they came to my house for tea. Their mothers came with them to make sure we were a "proper family." I also had a friend, Simone Roux, who lived in a small village near La Rochelle called Saint Xandre. There was also Colette Paillaud, living in a very expensive house with her grandfather who was the one who had the money. There were also the Pilard. Their father owned a bank. Annette Pilard and I attended gymnastic lessons together. The Pilars were snobbish and did not talk to everybody. First they would ask you what kind of a job your father had before they decided that they would, or would not, talk to you. The school had very strict rules; after all we were supposed to be YOUNG LADIES. Miss Morissey and Miss Pardes were the ones who supervised us, and made sure that hat and gloves were worn when we left the school. In school, we all were wearing the same "tablier," a type of overall on top of our dresses. It was of a cream color and each one had our name on it. I liked the teachers; we had an English teacher, Madame Pons, she was good. She had spent a few years in England. I don't seem to remember the names of the other teachers, as we had a History and Geography teacher, a Math teacher, a Sciences teacher, a French teacher, a music teacher, an art teacher, and a Physical Education teacher. So 1939 was rather quiet; we went to school as though nothing had really happened and also part of 1940. Madeleine Babieau and Lisette Caspecha were making their communion in the Protestant church. They invited me to attend. I had never gone to a Protestant church, as for the Catholic Church it was considered as a mortal sin to attend a service there; anyway I went to their communion. I realize that their service was different; that for the communion they had real bread and wine. But what I thought was the most strange was when they had the collection. They were passing something that reminded me of a butterfly net made of a black material. Speaking about collections in a church, a friend of ours happened to be in a small church in Brittany. A man presented him a plate for the collection and he was quite generous; so the next thing you know, the man offered
him some snuff. He really did not know what to do with it. Apparently, they had kept an old tradition that prevented people to use snuff during the whole service and particularly while the priest was preaching; then they were offered some snuff later during the collection. Every year in La Rochelle, there was an amusement fair in July, and because we were still in school, we always walked through it when we got out of School. Sometimes we were given free tickets for different rides. I liked the rides, especially two of them: the caterpillar, and one called the "fouet," or the whip in English. They were also making all kinds of candy, called "nougat." They were made of sugar and almonds. One time, Anne Ducourneau wanted her fortune told by a gypsy. She asked me to go with her. I really did not like the idea, and when we entered her place, I was really nervous. I did not see that the woman had on the floor a bucket filled with water, and I put my foot right in it. During the occupation, of course, there were no fairs, the Germans deported a lot of the gypsies to concentration camps. On 10 May 1940, the Germans attacked. We had a room in our house requisitioned for a French Lieutenant; he was very nice. They were also some soldiers around and he had them dig a trench in the courtyard; covered it with some type of corrugated metal sheets and bags of dirt. We did not know why he had them doing this work, but later we did find ourselves in this trench when the Germans flew over it and used their machine guns. We heard the bullets on the metal, but we were protected by the bags of dirt and nobody was hurt. His wife came and spent some time with him, then the Lieutenant left, and we knew that we were losing the war on all fronts. We never heard from him again. Refugees were pouring south, and they camped on the Place de Verdun. We heard horrible stories of people being machine gunned on the road by the German planes. In a village, the children were making their holy communion, and they were in a procession outside the church. The German planes came, and men, women, and children were killed by their machine guns; there was blood all over some of the dresses of the young girls. It is almost impossible to describe what went on at that time. One day my father saw a car stop in front of the house; a man asked him where he thought that they could find a place to stay overnight. They had a small baby and were not able to find anything in La Rochelle. My fathers told him that there was nothing available, and offered to have them stay at our house for the night. They stayed overnight and my mother served them a big omelet and some "jambon," and there was milk for the baby. They were trying to go south with the intention of going to Canada. He was a Belgium Banker and he told my father that it was the second time that they had to flee because of the Germans, and that they wanted to go to Canada and never return to Belgium. They did make it because one day we received a card from Canada just saying that they were all right. I wonder if they ever returned to Belgium? The French and English troops were blocked in a pocket at Dunkerque. On one side, they had the Germans and the other side the sea. Boats were called from all over England to try to save them. Thousands of English and French soldiers died there. All kinds of rumors circulated, one more horrible than the other, so my father decided that my mother and I would return to Cram-Chaban for the time being. So my mother and I left, and my father stayed at the house with my grandmother. The Germans were pouring toward the south of France. Even though the village was off the main road, some of them came to the village. We were all scared. One of them came to the house and asked Thine (the lady of the house) if she would cook him a soft egg. She was so upset that the egg was hard boiled, he did not say anything, he ate it and left. My mother did not want me to leave the house as she was afraid that the Germans would rape girls.
Germans were everywhere in La Rochelle, and of course La Pallice and Laleu. They occupied the farm that we owned, which was situated behind the house. We had to cross two yards to get there. My mother had to go there to feed the chickens, the rabbits, and the pig. On their time off, as it was very hot, they would lay there naked to get a tan. My poor mother was terribly embarrassed to have to go there, but apparently, they were not. They were everywhere in the town; in the pastry shop I saw them eating "Saint Honore"' (a type of cake with cream) with a soupspoon. They were eating everything in sight, fruits, cakes and even raw sausage meat. Soon the stores started to get empty, and there was not much left for us French. The people from Czechoslovakia were happy when the Germans came, as they were pro German. One day the Germans came with a truck and took them away with their belongings, they thought they were going home. Nobody ever heard from them and we wonder if they ended up in one of the concentration camps. Marechal Petain was designated as the head of the French government; he signed the Armistice with the Germans in June. Hitler insisted that it would be signed in the same wagon in which the Germans signed their defeat at Versailles on 28 June, 1919. Petain formed a Government in Vichy, in the "non-occupied" portion of France in July. Hitler came to Paris, this was the only time he was there and he never came back. General De Gaulle who had the grade of Brigadier General made his appeal to the French on the B.B.C. on 18 June 1940. He was heard from those who did not want to give up and would continue the fight either in France or in England. He announced that he would represent the "FREE FRENCH," and that he would be the head of the Free French Government in London. The French, who were continuing the fight in England, wore a special insignia, "LA CROIX DE LORRAINE" (THE LORRAINE CROSS). My brother, and other French military personnel, wore it on their uniform. My brother was in England in London during the blitz. He was a naval officer and participated in the convoys to the North Sea. He participated in those convoys at the worst time from 1941 to the beginning of 1943. At the beginning, only a few ships managed to get through. Later on, when the war was over, he told us about one time when he was in a convoy. He was returning to his base in England, and was at the head of the convoy. He had not had any sleep for at least twenty-four hours. He then asked the second officer to take the watch for half an hour. Later, the officer came to wake him up and told him that he was not sure where they were, but he thought that they might have been in a minefield. Pierre right away thought of all those other ships who were following him. I believe for once he prayed, and God must have heard his prayer, because not one ship was damaged. He married an English girl, Ann in November 1940. We did not understand why he married her as he was almost engaged to a young French lady in Morocco. Each time his ship stopped in Casablanca, the chauffeur was sent to pick him up. I did see a picture of her; she was very pretty. After the war when my father asked him what happened with the girl from Morocco; Pierres answer did not make any sense, he just said that they were for Petain. When he married Ann in November 1940, he certainly could not have known that they were for Petain. It was not the first time Pierre pulled something like that. Earlier, when he was in Bordeaux, he had a girl friend, to which he wanted to be engaged. My parents went to Bordeaux, for the engagement party, the engagement ring had been bought, and suddenly he decided against it. There again, we never found out what really happened, except that the girl, Yvette had a nervous break-down. She was a teacher and a very lovely girl. Germans were everywhere; they occupied our main buildings, and you could see their flags on many of them. We also started to see people wearing the star of David on their clothes. We felt so bad about it, but we had no idea that the Jewish fate would become a nightmare. I had a good friend from school, Sonia Dounaiski. Her father was Polish and her mother was Russian. I believe she was born in Odessa. Her father was born in Warsaw. They had both tried to go to the United States, as Sonia's mother had all her family in the States. Her father and other children went ahead and were admitted in the United States. Sonia's mother was left in Russia
with her mother. Her mother died of hunger, and Sonia's mother tried to join her family. Both Sonia's mother and father had problems with their eyes, and at that time, all people having this trouble were not granted admittance to the United States. They both found themselves back on a ship that stopped at La Pallice, and they decided to stay there. Beginning a new life there, I am sure, was not easy, but her father was a very good cobbler, and very soon, he had a good clientele. Sonia was their only child, and she received a very good education, was given piano lessons, etc. Her father later on, opened a store in La Pallice. Sonia also had to leave La Pallice in 1943, so they all left and her father opened a store in Aigrefeuille, not very far from Puydrouard, where we stayed. So we did see each other often. Something I did not know, as nobody knew about it, except one person, was that Sonia's mother was Jewish. When we think of a Jew, we always see a person with dark hair and dark eyes. Sonia's mother was blonde with blue eyes, "the perfect Aryen!" She never followed her faith, and neither did Sonia, so for this reason they were safe. One person, I do not remember her name, knew that she was Jewish, and Mr. Dounaiski told her, if my wife is arrested, I will know you denounced her, and I am telling you, I will kill you. After the war, Sonia came to the United States to visit her aunts. She came back to La Pallice and worked for the Americans. She married an American and went to live in Houston, Texas. Later on, her parents sold everything they had in France, and joined her in the States. It must have been a wonderful reunion for Mrs. Dounaiski and her family, they had not seen each other for about fifty years. (While she was still in La Rochelle, and I went back home for a visit when Veronique was five month old, she purchased food for Ve'ronique at the U.S. Commissary. Veronique this way, was maintained on the same type of food that she was used to in the States.) September 1940 came, and I went back home as school was going to start. The girls from the "College de Jeunes Filles" were transferred to the Lycee (boys school) as the Germans took over our school. In the stores, things started to disappear as the Germans were buying everything in sight. We had to get tickets to buy food, clothes, etc. Everything was rationed, even the bread. We were allowed only so many grams a day. For us French it was hard, as we eat a lot of bread with our meals. We could only have meat once a week, but life did continue. We got used to hearing sirens at night announcing "enemy planes;" sometimes we had to get up more than once in the same night. If we had an alert during the day while we were in school, all pupils were sent to the school cellar. To get to school I had to get on a bus going to La Rochelle. It was getting very difficult to get on the bus as the Germans used it too; they had priority over us. Sometimes we waited more than an hour, or we walked back toward La Pallice where the bus started, to get a better chance to get on one. Many times, I arrived late in school, and the new English teacher did not like me because of it, and always gave me very poor marks in English. It does seem very funny now. I am certain that my English is much better now than hers was at the time. First to alleviate the situation of the buses, I stayed in school for lunch, the food was not very good. I remember one day we were served cauliflower that had not been cleaned very well, and we noticed some small worms, but we were so hungry that we ate it anyway. In school, we were given some type of cookies, which I believe contained vitamins. With those cookies that had a remote taste of chocolate. The cafeteria made a type of cream for dessert, at first you would not eat it but after a few weeks you ate it and looked for extra from the new comers who did not want to eat it. Later I moved into the house of some friends of my father, the Rambeau. They lived in Rue Bougreau in La Rochelle, and from there, I could walk to school. The Germans had requisitioned a room there for an officer, and across from my room, a German officer was sleeping. Because there were only women in the house, Madame Rambeau, Leontine, Edith and Jane, they tried to be pleasant with him, and sometimes offered him a
cup of hot herb tea when it was very cold outside. One day Edith who had a big mouth asked him if he had any complaint to make, he answered "no every one is very pleasant." Edith then asked him "suppose you receive the order to kill all civilians, what would you do?" He came to attention, snapped his heels together and answered "for a German an order is an order." You should have seen Edith's face. The Germans came to see my father; they wanted him to take the directions at the harbor in view of getting the cargo that was in the Champlain. The Champlain had been sunk by them. They told my father that for this work he could name his price. My father did not accept this work. I really do not know how he got out of it. My father did not want to do it because he knew that in the Champlain they were arms that could be used to kill our friends and allies. Another person did it, a person without a conscience, Monsieur Delpech. He made a fortune and had a beautiful house built in St. Maurice (near La Rochelle) with this money. On the walls of this house, you could see swastikas that people had drawn, and he was accused of collaboration with the enemy. After the war, nothing really happened to him because of his collaboration. Later on, he moved out of this new house, and rented it to the American General when the Americans came to La Rochelle. I often visited my aunt who had a son a year older than I. Sometimes Robert had a friend over, I believe his name was Bernard who now is a very well known lawyer. When I was staying for dinner, Robert always took me home. My aunt's dream was that I would marry Robert. I never was in love with Robert, but not knowing at the time what love was, I probably would have married him to please my aunt, after all, I was only seventeen. Her daughter Helene did not like the idea, I think she was jealous of me because of the way my aunt treated me. Later on Robert met a girl who worked at the Post Office. My aunt at the time hated her, but anyway Madeleine married Robert. The funny part is that after having, I believe four children with her, he left her for another woman just at the time he retired. He apparently is living with the other woman in the Ile de Re and he told my brother Jean that he could not stand his wife anymore. My aunt had a store in Laleu next to the square. Germans were shopping there, and during that time, my father did not want to have much to do with her or her family. Germans were also coming to her house and one in particular as I remember. He was a Lieutenant in the Air Force at the Base in Laleu. He was of "Pure Blood" or a true Aryan. His hair was so blond that they almost looked white, and of course, his eyes were blue. For some reason he did not seem to be a Nazi. They had not managed to brainwash him, perhaps because he was very intelligent. At that time, it was a mystery, and still is at this time. He left the Base in Laleu and I believe was sent to the Russian front. He probably died there. Even though he was a German, I had to admit that his upbringing had to be remarkable, as he was a gentleman in the fullest meaning of the word. I believe that his father was a banker in Berlin. One day a friend of this German, a Nazi, said to my aunt, "Madame Marie, your niece hates Germans." My aunt who, I think was very scared of them, said, "Oh no, I don't think so. Has she done anything to you?" "Oh no, he answered, Madame Marie, but her eyes! her eyes! " On 24 May 1941, while listening to the B.B.C., we heard that the English Battleship Hood had been sunk by the German Battleship, the Bismarck. There were only three survivors. The entire English fleet and their planes were looking for the Bismarck. The Germans had brought some more guns to defend the Bismarck if needed. We had a couple of guns brought next to our house in the vacant lot. Even though we were only at the end of May, it was hot, as I can remember the soldiers responsible for those guns were wearing shorts, and they still had their helmets on their heads and they, indeed, looked very funny. After four days of heavy combat the English fleet sunk the Bismarck. Our family was very upset as we had no news from Pierre. We thought that he might be in England, but we were not sure. Jean was sent to Germany on force labor and Jacques, who was back in the Metropole from Morocco, was requisitioned as a driver for a German Colonel.
In November 1942, the Germans invaded, what was called for a while non-occupied France; their eyes were on the French Fleet, but when they arrived in Toulon the French Fleet was burning. Then came 1943. An order was given by the city that all children would have to be evacuated from danger zones. My father found a house in the country called Puydrouard, and my mother and I moved there. It was not too far from La Rochelle and my father could come on his bicycle to visit us on week-ends. The owner of the house had a mill. We could get flour from him, so we could give my father our bread ration. We had a small courtyard there, my mother raised a few rabbits, and that was a help as we were entitled to have meat only once a week. The house in Puydrouard was comfortable and because the ceilings were low, the rooms were very easy to heat. We kept warm in the winter. There were three rooms downstairs, including the kitchen, and three bedrooms upstairs, but of course no bathroom, so we took sponge baths. Next to us was a stable with a lot of cows. So by using the back door, we could get milk without tickets as milk was also rationed, so was butter. At night, we then could have besides a vegetable soup a type of milk pudding made with semolina, and as we could not get much sugar either we had to use saccharine. We also kept the cream of the milk on the side and when we had enough we made a little butter. We could not get much butter or oil, the Germans were taking it all. Sometimes we could get some goat cheese from the Grandmother next door and that was a little extra on our diet. We also could get some eggs from the farm. We managed to buy some sheep wool and after cleaning it, which was a job, the grandmother of the farm next door taught me how to spin the wool, and she let me borrow her spinning wheel. I was pretty good at it. We also bought some sheep's fat, and with it, we made some soap, as the soap was rationed. Not too long before my mother and I move to Puydrouard, the Germans occupied part of our house. They compelled my mother to clean their rooms. When it was an alert, if it was near any of their meals, one of the soldiers would enter our kitchen, take our pots or pans off our stove, and put the meal for the officers on our stove. They took the whole second floor, and I had to sleep on a cot in the kitchen. Across from our house was a huge field, so the Germans brought many antiaircraft guns there. They were the 105mm guns. When they were on alert, and were using them, we had to keep all our doors and windows opened to prevent the glass to break. Before we left for the country, the Allies bombed La Pallice, but it was so near that the dust prevented us to see outside for a short time. The Allies had managed to bomb the Germans while they were eating, and they were many casualties. We saw trucks going by full of dead bodies, and at the time, we were pleased. Another time the Allies bombed an area where there were wood buildings. They used firebombs, and what a mess. You could smell burned skin for some time. One time, a German who was at Madame Goujon's house was all excited, he was saying that they had shot an allied plane down, but later on we found out that it was one of their own planes. At one time, they brought some Russians prisoners, and had them making smoke when there was an alert, so the planes could not see anything. Many of the times we had an alert because the planes were going to bomb, I think Italy, as it could not have been on the way to Germany. So we heard the siren when the planes were going over and also when the planes were returning. We were awaken a couple of times those nights. While we were still at the house, my father received people from England. They were there to get information about the harbor and the submarine base. I believe one of them was Colonel Remy. Colonel Remy survived and, I believe, wrote books on his experience with the Resistance. The Germans, at the time, were in the house and it was a very dangerous situation. At any time, they could have entered the room where my father and the men from England were meeting. We would have been arrested, turned over to the Gestapo, tortured, and then shot. They sometimes entered where we were without knocking; sometimes we had just finished
eating, so they would offer my father a cigar. My father always refused, even though he was growing some tobacco in the garden, and after drying it, he was smoking it, I believe it was awful. Through one of those men from England, we received a short note telling us that Pierre was in England. Jean managed to get a leave for the birth of his son, and never returned to Germany. He hid out in Vende. Many times the police working for the Germans came to find out if we knew where he was. I found out through Doctor Bigwood from Lahey Clinic here in Burlington, that a commando raid was sent to La Pallice to blow up the harbor, but it failed. My father became very nervous. I don't know if he worried about being caught by the Germans or if he was very worried about Pierre who was fighting in England. He did not want to hear any music in the house or any of us singing. The only time we could use the radio was for the News and specially the B.B.C. We had to be careful when we listened the B.B.C., as we were told that the Germans where going up and down streets with some type of detector placed on one of their trucks, to catch anybody listening to the B.B.C. Those years were really terrible years, and no one would choose to live through such a hard time and for us teenagers those years were lost years. There was nothing much to do in Puydrouard. I had High School courses by correspondence. I took long walks in the country with my mother. I also got to know the girl from the farm very well. I watched her milking the cows every night, and sometimes I would go with her to watch the cows in the prairie. She also had a goat, and I was amazed to see how independent that animal was. I learned how to make butter, how to card wool, and how to use the spinning wheel. It seems that one day after the next, was exactly the same. Of course, we had no television, but thanks to the B.B.C., we could learn what was going on besides all the lies we did hear from the Germans. The winter made it a little worse, as we had to stay in more. I was missing my friends, going with them to the movies, or walking to the beach. I also missed going to the theater with Helene and Robert, my cousins. While I was away in Puydrouard, the Allies bombed La Pallice-Laleu again, but this time it was more serious. The whole area was lighted as if it were day light; we could see it from the street in Puydrouard. We could have read the paper, the lights over the harbor were so strong, and I can't understand how the planes could have hit the town instead of the submarine base. We were told that the Americans were not that great at hitting their targets, perhaps because of not enough training or perhaps because they really did not care. The English perhaps were more careful because they knew what it was like to be under an air raid. Civilians were killed, and a girl from my school, who was just visiting that night, was killed from the bomb that exploded in the cellar where she was. Our Priest normally was going with her family in the cellar, that day they asked him if he was going to join them, and he decided against it, and for that reason, did not die. Jacqueline and her entire family were killed, and the church where I was baptized was also destroyed. Another of my friends, Frangoise, moved from La Rochelle to Clermont Ferrand, joining her father and her entire family. One day, as the Allies were bombing, a bomb fell in their shelter and they were all killed. Frangoise and I had walked to school together, once I got out of the bus, she would be waiting for me. During the time that I was still in school, it was hard to get food even with tickets. It was difficult also to get clothes. One of my coats was made from a blanket. On our shoes, we had wooden soles and it was strange to walk with this type of sole. Times went by, and finally we heard that the Allies had landed. It was too late for a friend of my father. He was caught by the Germans, tortured, and died. It was also too late also for many people in our town. As for our Mayor, Monsieur Vieljeux, who had the grade of Colonel in the French army. When the Germans entered our town, they demanded that our flag would come down from our town hall and be replaced by theirs. For this duty, they sent a Lieutenant. Monsieur Vieljeux told him, that being a Colonel, he would only
talk to a Colonel or a superior officer. They agreed with him, but later on, he was arrested and sent to a camp, where he died. There was also fighting between the Germans and the underground. One day, a Company of Germans came to Puydrouard and the German Major told the Mayor, that if he had even one man killed, he would bum the entire village. We did not sleep too well that night. Later on, we heard that they did bum an entire village. First, they gathered the men on the square and shot them all. Then they gathered the women and children in the church and set it on fire. They fired at anybody who was trying to come through the windows. The village was Oradour-sur-Glane. They killed six hundred and forty two people on 10 June 1944. Pierre had landed with the troops in the south of France and had asked for a few days leave to try to find us. He arrived very early in the morning in Puydrouard with a car and a chauffeur. He knocked on the door to find out where we lived and nobody wanted to say anything. People thought it might have been the Gestapo. It was not until he showed them some papers that they told him where we were. We were so happy that he was there and alive. They both were armed to the teeth. One day Pierre was cleaning his machine gun and after cleaning it he loaded it again and I do not know how it happen but the machine gun let go and I almost got shot again. Jacques, who was driving a German Colonel, managed to leave him and meet his old regiment, "Les Goumiers," from Morocco. He had done his military service in this regiment. He joined them in the fight. The fight between the Germans and the underground intensified, and we were told to evacuate the village. Once more, we had to find a place to live. We found a place in another village, Marsais. Just at that time, my mother was making pates, sausages, and other dishes. We had managed to raise a pig, and we had just killed it, when the order came to evacuate. My mother refused to leave until she was finished. My father had to move everything from the house and came back for her the next day, but she spent the entire night alone in the village with the exception of an other lady that had not moved either. In this other house, we were given a kitchen that was apart from the main house. You could see the sky through some parts of the roof. That year we had snow, and it was so cold in this room that we had to keep our coat on all of the time. There was no running water in this room, and we had to get water at a pump outside. We had to heat the water in the fireplace. The winter was exceptionally cold that year. We celebrated Christmas there and my father put almost half a trunk of a tree in the fireplace to keep us warm. The only thing we asked for as a present was "the end of the war." Our bedroom was in the main house so we had to go out at night and cross part of the yard to go to bed. There was no heat in the bedroom. The bed was an old-fashioned bed with a canopy and the bed was so high that we had to use a chair to get in it. The house was part of a small estate. There were two families in the main house. The owners had started to modernize the house and there was a modern kitchen including inside plumbing. For us to go to the bathroom, we had to go out. It was really an "out house," that was a distance from where we lived in the kitchen, and when we got there, there was a seat with two holes. I worked at the Town Hall taking care of papers related to the refugees, food rations, etc. There at least I was warm. The winter was particularly cold that year and we had snow on the ground. Pierre had landed with the French in the south of France, later he was assigned to Algiers with Monsieur Chataigneau who was Governor of Algeria. He had known Mr. Chataigneau in Bayreuth. Before going to Algiers, he came with Ann, his wife, to Marsais. He was assigned a car with a chauffeur and they traveled during the night. Of course, he was told that some territories were still occupied by the Germans. At one time the chauffeur stopped and said, "Mon Commandant, I am not sure where we are. We may be in the German zone." So Pierre, with his strange type of humor turned to Ann to let her know what was going on, and he added, with you speaking English and
me in my uniform of the Free French, if we meet any Germans, we probably will be shot. But thank God, they arrived safely in Marsais. Ann was wondering why there were two holes in the seat in the outhouse, and Pierre told her that it was done for people who were constipated. They could play cards while waiting!
My Years in Algiers
Pierre told my parents that it would be better for me to go with them to Algiers, to wait there for the end of the war. We drove to the south of France and there in Marseilles, we boarded a ship for Algiers. Because the war was not over, we traveled with a convoy. On the ship the food was abundant, all kinds of food I had not seen since 1940. So I probably ate too much rich food and I developed a rash. In Algiers, Pierre had an office in "the Gouvernement General." This was the building where most of the offices were including the office of the Governor. Pierre was given a big house with 18 rooms. The house was called "La villa Foi or Foa," on Rue Michelet not too far from the Palais D'Ete. The house was lovely. To enter the house you had to climb a few marble steps. When you entered the vestibule, there was a door on each side, and stairs made of marble facing you. The doors were made of dark wood with big brass ornaments. In the living room, there were seven windows and two fireplaces that were made of beautifully colored mosaics. In the dining room, I believe that General De Gaulle had used the table when he was in Algiers. The upstairs bedrooms were very comfortable, with tiled floors and thick Algerian carpets. Each bedroom had its own bathroom. Pierre also had a room for his office. On the next floor, there was a bedroom and a large terrace. The Government assigned two people to Pierre to help with the upkeep of the house. The cook was a Vietnamese from Hanoi; his name was Hoy. He was also in the French navy. His cooking was excellent, and specially his cakes. He was a strange man. At one time, Pierre offered him a room on the top floor to move into, instead of being in a room next to the garage, but he refused. Later, I found out that in his religion they believe in ghosts, and I suppose he felt that being on a higher floor he might encounter them more there. There was also an Arab to help with the work. His name was Ambarak. He was a shepherd and I think it was the first time he had been in a city. At the back of the house, there was a big room for the laundry, and there was a garage for two cars. In some part of the garage were two rooms where the Arab and the Vietnamese slept. At the end of the war, Pierre gave a big party. There were at least fifty people. Most of them were almost drunk and it was funny to watch those people when you yourself are sober. Later, we had to move out of the villa, because there was someone in the Cabinet higher than Pierre, who was in need of a house. We moved into a smaller house in the garden of the "Palais d'Ete." There was a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a bedroom, and a bath on the same floor. Downstairs, there were two bedrooms with baths. The downstairs was still on ground level as the house was built on a hill. They were a few gardeners taking care of the garden; there were beautiful flowers everywhere. Next to the house, there was a huge orange tree and when it was in bloom, the smell was so strong that it was giving us a headache. The war being over, there were many parties. I remember one especially at the Hotel Aletti, one of the grand hotels in Algiers at the time. The ladies wore long dresses, and most of the men were in white uniforms. The only drink that was served was Champagne, "MUM CORDON ROUGE." I remember wearing a beautiful long dress made of white damask with no back. My hair was put up and I had fresh red carnations in my hair. The party lasted all night and ended with breakfast. There were also dinners at the Governor's house. Their villa was in El Biar, it was a beautiful place. Also in El Biar were the houses of the consuls representing many countries. One time, I cannot remember the occasion; we were invited for dinner at the Governor's villa. One man, I don't remember who he was, but he seemed out of place, excessively nervous. When he went to salute the Governor and his wife, he caught his feet in the carpet and almost fell. Then at the table, he did not seem to know what to do with all those forks etc., and each guest had a "rinse doigts" (a small dish filled with water to rinse our fingers), he did not know what it was, and he drank the water.
The Brazilian Consul a few times invited us. He also had a house in El Biar, a typical Moorish type of a house with a closed garden in the middle, and also a fountain, and beautiful mosaics everywhere. I really love this type of house. We were also invited to the American Consulate for July 4. It is there that I tasted for the first time peanut butter; I did not think it was good. At the Chataigneau, the dinners were always grand. The waiters wore white gloves. It was always very elegant. Pierre was friendly with a prominent couple in Algiers, and we went to dinner at their house many times. What I remember the most is that their dining table was made of marble. They had several servants, a cook and several maids. Madame Leu was a beautiful lady with reddish hair and green eyes. All her dresses came from Paris from the grand Couturier; she also had beautiful jewels. Mr. Lzu was a lot older that she was; he also was an alcoholic and started to drink whiskey in the middle of the morning. They had only one son and they lost him; he died of pneumonia in the summer of 1945, he was only eighteen. One time Ann and I wanted to visit the Casbah. We were assigned an Arab officer to take us there. It was very interesting and some of the places did not look that great from the outside; but one time a door opened and the courtyard inside looked lovely. When we were walking along the narrow streets, no one said anything, but in the eyes of some of the women you could see hate. When we got back to the house, we were told to have a bath and change clothes, as we could very well have picked up fleas. The Arabs do not kill any insect. I remember that one day, I found a huge spider in my tub and I called Ambarak. He came and very delicately took the spider in his hands, and took it outside. Pierre was also friendly with two couples, they were Capitaine Menard and his wife and Colonel Layec and his wife. Capitaine Menard was from the same area in France where we came from. Colonel Layec and his wife, if I recall correctly, were from Brittany. Colonel Layec's wife was noticed for the strange hats she was wearing. She made them herself, in general they were some kind of "beret." When Ann went to England for her brother's funeral, Pierre had to go on inspection outside Algiers, so I stayed at the Layec's house. They had three boys, Robert, the oldest, Bernard, and I have forgotten the name of the youngest one. In the evening we spent hours playing bridge. The Colonel and his wife were very religious and we always said grace before meals. Several British ships stopped in Algiers, and Admiral Ronarch gave a big party for the officers; we of course were invited to the party. It was well organized, there were two buffets with a variety of great food and of course drinks and again it was a very elegant party as all the ladies wore long dresses and the men were in uniforms. One time, Pierre was sent to inspect the south of Algiers, in El Oued, in the Algerian Sahara. We went with him. We flew there, and a guard of honor was there when we came out of the plane. A car was waiting, an "old Car." It had not been replaced, probably because of the war. The car had two seats in front, and two other seats at the back, which I believed were called rumble seats. Ann and I sat at the back. We drove on a road that had been made of stones, which in French, we called "roses des sables," perhaps because it reminded you of a rose. The ride was pretty bumpy, and it was a good thing neither of us were pregnant. We were received by the Commandant of the place, and by his wife. I stayed at their house for sleeping, and the next morning, one of their servants, brought me breakfast. Because I woke up suddenly, I could not figure out for a minute where I was, and who was this black man in my room. We also ate lunch and dinner there. One evening, we had soup, and the next day, the lady of the house asked us how we liked the soup? We said that it was very good. She then told us it was made with camel meat! Pierre and Ann stayed at a hotel, and the room being on the ground floor, had to be checked for scorpions. I was really afraid to be bitten by one, as you can't see them, they are sand colored. One Arab kid had
caught one, and put it in a can to show it to us. Pierre had to visit a few important Arabs, and one of them offered us some mint tea, and we had to accept it, even though every thing was covered with flies. The Captain's wife told us, the flies were one of the problems they had there. The flies carried some type of germs, and when they went on the eyes, the eyes would have pus, and in the morning, the kids could not open their eyes. The French doctor was taking care of them for this problem. From El Oued, we traveled to Touggourt, another oasis in the Algerian Sahara. There, it was different from in El Oued. The ground was cracked, and salty. An ocean must have been there thousands of years ago. In the hotel, the water coming from the faucet was salty, and we had to use bottle water to wash our teeth. There were many palm trees around, and the Arab kids would climb them to pick the dates. They would offer some of them to us and I had never eaten dates so succulent before that time, or since then either. There was no electricity; the hotel had its own generator, and everything was shut off at nine o'clock. At night, we only had the moon to see by outside. Some nomads had stopped by, and camped there. Late at night after eating, they were playing some type of flute; the music was beautiful, and in this environment, cannot be really described. The music was very nostalgic. We also went for a picnic in the mountains near Algiers; it was lovely there. In the trees, there were a lot of monkeys and they were not shy, they would come and take food from our hands. There was a hotel and we noticed that all the windows had screens; we were told that it was to prevent the monkeys from entering the rooms when the windows were opened. On the fourteen of July 1945, the Governor held a reception at the Palais d'Ete. I went with Pierre, as Ann was in England because of the death of a brother. Pierre never wanted to be early at these affairs, so he waited until most of the people had arrived to make his entry. When we entered the room, we were announced as Commandant and Mademoiselle Favreau, just as all guests were announced. First, we had to go to salute the Governor and his wife. People were looking, and Pierre, I think, was enjoying it. Another time we went to a party at the Palais d'Ete and there was an Arab who was reading the future in the sand. Most of the people went to hear about their future; to Pierre he predicted that he would go high in the ladder of the military, and that he would have two children. He told me that I would marry somebody who would come from very far and that I would have two children, but he could only see one alive. On the fourteen of July there was a huge parade. We were sitting with the members of the Cabinet of Governor Chataigneau. It was beautiful and very moving to see all those soldiers looking great on horses, the Legion with their "Mascot", and all of them who had fought so bravely. Before I left, I had to say good-bye to Madame Chataigneau the Governor's wife. The chauffeur took me to their villa. I was received by Madame Chataigneau in the Blue room, and had tea with her. She was a very charming lady, but very strict with the servants. Later Mr. Chataigneau left Algiers and was appointed Ambassador to Moscow. Monsieur Chataigneau came from Poitou; he lost his only son in the resistance. His son was with the Resistance of Vercors, I do not believe any one got out alive. They also had a daughter. At the end of the war, my parents did not want to go back to the previous house as the Germans had taken it over completely. It was apparently a mess. They bought a house in La Pallice at 188 Avenue Denfert Rochereau. The house was just right, and had a small garden in front, and a bigger one at the back. Downstairs, there was a dining room and a living room on one side. On the other side, there was an every day dining room, a kitchen, and a veranda. There was a toilet on this floor, and a door going to the cellar. Upstairs, there were three bedrooms and a bathroom. When I left to go home, I took a cargo ship, which had a few cabins, to get back to
France. The ship's radio got a message that there was a surface mine in the area where we would arrive, so they slowed the ship to arrive in that area in the day time. My father was waiting for me in Marseilles. While in La Pallice I took some lessons in typing and shorthand, and bookkeeping at Madame Renaud's school. In 1948, my father decided that I should go and spend some time in England. My father was acquainted with an English gentleman, who after checking with his daughter, told my father that his daughter and son in law would love to have me at their house.
My Years in England
It is then, that I met Marjorie and Bill Lee and their beautiful little daughter, Ursula. Ursula was born on Wednesday, July 30th in 1946. At the beginning it was very hard, as I could not express myself very well. I had a teacher who came to the house, and it did not take me very long finally to be able to speak English. When he thought I was ready, he sent me to London all by myself. I was a little scared, I think, but everything went fine except at the restaurant while I was looking at the Menu. I suddenly notice "welsh rabbit." I thought, oh good, rabbit, but I was very surprised when they served me. Marjorie and I went to the theater almost every Saturday, as she said it would be good for my English, and she was right. Bill, her husband, was from an excellent family. He was an Oxford graduate and worked for the big Lloyd's insurance Company in London. I had a hard time understanding him, though I could understand Marjorie very well. Their house was nice. Downstairs, there was the kitchen, the parlor, and the dining room. Upstairs there were three bedrooms and a bathroom. The bedrooms were only heated with electricity that we shut off when we went to bed. In the morning, Bill would get up first, would switch the electric heaters on, and bring me a hot cup of tea. On Sunday, we always had breakfast in the dining room, and in the afternoon, we had high tea. I liked most of the food there. I always felt very comfortable in England and in the way they lived. During the week, Marjorie's sister would come to visit with her daughter Christine, who at the time was two, and a little devil. I spent Christmas there, and I enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. I really loved England. I felt bad when I left. When I left England, I went to Liverpool to meet Mr. Molineux, who then at the time was the CEO of the Pacific Line, the Company my father had worked for. I took the ship with Mr. Molineux and his wife. I had a cabin in the first class with a big bathroom and I ate with the Molineux at the Captain's table. The trip was very short but was very enjoyable, better than taking the boat to Le Havre and the train to Paris, and then the train to La Rochelle. Another time going to England, I took the ship again and stayed a few days with the Molineux. My father heard through a friend of his, Madame Lecordier, about a school in London England, St. Christopher College. He decided that it would be very good for me to spend one more year in England. He wrote to St. Christopher College and I was accepted there. My father accompanied me to the school; I guess he wanted to check it out. It was strictly a school for foreigners. There were people from many different countries: Spain, Belgium, Ethiopia, Austria, Holland, France, Greece, and a few from Iran. It just happened that my roommate was an Iranian girl, named Tooman. The only way we could talk to each other was in English. She was very pretty and very charming. Her father was deceased. He had been an ambassador to many countries. He had four wives; each one had her own house and servants. This is why Tooman had 17 brothers and sisters. She was used to a high standard of living, and could spend money as if it was water. Somebody in Teheran was taking care of her finances and one day when she needed more money, she told him to sell a village. I really thought that it was strange that one could own a village. She always wore beautiful clothes and when we were going out, she spent hours to get ready. I could not understand why she needed so much time, as for me, I was ready in no time. I remember that in winter she wore a lovely gray Astrakhan coat with the hat and muff to go with it. We got along very well and I was always with the Iranian group. Karim Amini was always with Tooman and I. Karim was from Ispahan; I have no idea what his address was there. I understood that he also had a few brothers and sisters. His parents owned a rug factory. I saw pictures of Ispahan and some of the houses. It was really beautiful, and I was told that Ispahan was the city
where a lot of roses grew. Karim was tall and on the skinny side with green eyes. Karim, Tooman and I got very close, and Karim did not like me to stay talking to Maurice in the lounge. Each time, he would call and say that Tooman needed me. Maurice then would say, "your guardian angel is calling you." The Iranians were Moslem except Joseph Sarkis, who was Protestant, and lived at 122 Tir Avenue, Teheran. Seray Shokravi also lived in Teheran. We also had a girl from Melbourne, Australia. We had strict rules in the school. On the weekends, we had to be in by midnight. The Iranians were often late, and they would throw pebbles at the window of our room for us to go down and open the door for them. The bell would ring in the morning for people to get up, again when breakfast started, and last, for the beginning of courses. We had a break in the morning for tea, followed later by lunch. After lunch, we were supposed to go out for a walk, and then we had a few more lessons. In the evening, we had dinner, and later on at ten o'clock, we had our last cup of tea. The food there was not that great. The cook was a woman, a cockney, who was not too clean, and the boys pretended that the only time she had clean hands was when she made bread pudding. I still won't eat bread pudding to this day. We often bought fruits to eat and sometimes when one of us received a package from home, we would get together and share it. The Ethiopian girls were children of ambassadors, and at least once a month, a car from the Ethiopian Embassy would come to pick them up. Maurice then would say, there goes the symphony in black. The car was black, the chauffeur was black, and of course, the girls were black too. They were very pleasant, and one of them Alma, could play the piano beautifully. They had been in Cairo Egypt, with their father the Ethiopian Ambassador, and were presented to King Farouk. In Cairo, they attended the American School, so their English was already good. We noticed that when they were eating oranges they always ate them with salt, the reason is that in Ethiopia they need to get enough salt in their system. There was also an Ethiopian boy, Debebe. He was well brought up; his father was a landlord, and he was telling us that sometimes his father was gone a whole week inspecting his crops. He told me that if I ever wanted to contact him, I should go to the State Bank in Addis Ababa and asked for him and he would be so happy to welcome me. Tooman thought that he had a crush on me. Angel, the Spanish boy, was always happy, always singing. One time he took me to the theater to see some Spanish dancers; it was a wonderful show. Marcel was from Holland. He was the quiet type and was always very pleasant. Maurice, the Turkish boy, whose parents lived in Belgium, was a strange character. Brought up by nannies, he did not care much about his parents, and opened their letters only when he thought they were sending money. There was Doros, a Greek boy, whose parents also had money. He lived at 42 Amalias Avenue, Athens. He liked Tooman a lot. A Greek girl Nike Horitos was with us for a little while. She lived on Belkon Street in Athens. There was Hans, the Austrian Boy; he was very pleasant too. He lived at III Este-Platz, 5.11., Vienna. We also had two French boys, Andre, I do not remember his last name, and Jacques Ostier (Jacques in 1966 represented the National Geographical in Paris, the address was Jacques Ostier, 6 Rue des Petits-Peres, Paris 2eme, France), and for a little while a Jewish girl. I do not know what she was doing there as she was born in England and St. Christopher was more for foreigners. One time Tooman and I were invited to her house for tea. When we introduced ourselves, they thought that I was the Iranian girl and Tooman the French girl. The grandmother spoke only Yiddish. I believe they owned some stores in London. By the end of the first semester, there were only five of us girls left in the school. At Easter, we went with the school to the Isle of Wight. Of course, being so early in the season, there were not many tourists. The Isle of Wight is a lovely island that can boast of scenic beauty as well as holding the sunshine record on
frequent occasions. During our stay, we did not have one day of rain; the sun shines everyday. In spite of the sun, it was still too cool to go for a swim. It was the last vacation we spent together. We then returned to London and went to take some exams, which gave us some certificates for our knowledge of English. We were like a big family, and when it came time to say good-bye, in July (1949), there were many tears. Many of us knew that we would never see each other again. The good byes were final.
Once I got home, I stayed in touch with Angel, Marcel, Karim, and Tooman. Later on, I was told that Tooman married a Canadian doctor. Marcel spent a year in Spain to learn Spanish. He then moved to Canada; I think Toronto. I went back to England on vacation once, and spent some time with Karim. It was at the time he had problems with the English University. He was in premed, and he could not get laboratory time. He then left for Germany. His address at the time was Karim Amini, Dottendorfer Strasse 101, Bonn/Rhine, Germany. I never saw him after he moved to Germany. We corresponded for a few years until the time I became engaged to Don. I wrote to him to let him know, but he never wrote back, and in one way, I felt hurt, as I thought we were very close friends, but perhaps he was hurt too. I sometimes wonder if he made it and became a doctor, and if he went back to Iran, and if he is still alive. Karim was a Muslim and even though in London he did not practice his faith, he certainly thought as a Muslim. When I went to England to see him, he tried to see if I would let him make love to me, and as I was pretty mad about it, he apologized. He said that it was a test; he had to know, and if I had agreed, it would have been the end of our relationship; he would have lost all respect for me. He also told me that when he married, his wife would have to be a virgin, and if he ever found out that she was not, he could repudiate her right away. Angel spent some time in the Army. I went to Spain on vacation, and met Angel in Santander, where the family was spending the summer. I went with him to a Horse show there, and afterward to a reception in a club. I had never seen so many women wearing so much jewelry. Angel and I took a bus from Santander to Madrid, and his father was waiting for us. In Madrid his address was at the time: Angel Florez Estrada, Rodriguez San Pedro 64, Madrid, Spain. Angel Father's was a gentleman; his father was a Marquis, and I think, Minister of Finance at one time. I stayed at a hotel, but I went to eat at his house. One day, he told me that he would come to pick me up to show me around, and he did. He took me to his car. I was surprised. Instead of a regular car, there was the basic car frame with two wicker chairs on the platform, no top, no door, nothing. He said he had the car this way because it would be easy for me to enjoy the country. We went to a club to swim. He took me to a fashionable club in Madrid that evening, but the funny part of it was when the bellboy came to open the door, there was no door. You should have seen his face; it was hysterical. Angel's father was a dealer for Cadillac, and he insisted that his daughter would learn to type. As he lived through the Spanish revolution, he felt that even girls had to be prepared for life, which was not the case for most of the girls in Spain. In Santander, Angel had many friends, and they asked him what my religion was. Knowing that I was Roman Catholic, they welcomed me in their group. I had a very good time in Spain. With Angel, nothing could be dull. I traveled by train to Santander. In the train, was a gentleman, who asked me where I came from? He told me that I had the look of the ladies of Andalousie, black hair and big brown eyes. I went back home, and later, I went and spent a month with Ann in Toulon. Pierre had been sent to Vietnam. Tooman came to France on vacation, and came to visit. With Ann, as usual, you had to think twice before speaking, and you knew that whatever you said, she would always argue to prove that she was right. I believe that was the problem between her and my father. When she was in his home, it was not very smart to argue with him. My father did not have a great love for her. He called her the British Empire. I stayed with her part of the summer. They had a friend in Toulon, whose husband was an Inspector of Police and was a very smart man. Once, when she had them over for dinner, there was a big argument. Right now, I don't remember what it was about, but I know that he was mad. They belonged to a nudist camp in the Isle of Hyeres, and the whole family went there in summer.
Ann and I went to spend a week in Moustiers in Provence; it was beautiful there. The mountains were covered with thyme and "romarin." While one was walking there, one could smell all those aromas. In Moustiers, they also cultivate lavender, and you could see fields and fields of lavender. The perfume is so strong that you can get a headache from it, and for a while, I did not want to smell lavender again. In Moustiers, they also made some type of china that is well known. While I was in Toulon, Ann's nephew Raymond Lees came to visit, (Raymond is now I believe a Professor in Economics). We went dancing a lot; I loved dancing, and if we had gone dancing in the afternoon, I would soak my feet to be able to go back in the evening.
Working for the Americans
I went back home, and at that time, the Americans were opening a base in La Rochelle. I went there for an interview, and I got a job. First I worked with Sgt. Dumas; he was, I believe, from around Boston. It was so early, that we did not even have a desk; we used a big wooden box as a desk. This was the beginning of seven and half years of working for the Americans; not all of it was pleasant. We were not sent the best of the crop of military personnel. Germany got the best military people, as Pierre one time explained to me, and it showed. I was working in the Adjutant General's office at the beginning, typing on stencils, orders for the movement of troops. It was not an exciting job, but it was a job. We were well paid by the Intendance Militaire. The Americans paid them, and they in turn paid us. One year I went on vacation with my mother to the Baleares. First, we stayed in Barcelona and we attended a bullfight. It was very colorful, although it was not my first one, as I attended one with Angel in Madrid. We also attended a show with Spanish dancers; I enjoyed it a lot. The Baleares at the time was a beautiful Island. I understand it is not so any more. We traveled with a group, and it is at that time that I met Lucette Fleuret, who also lived in La Rochelle. Lucette and another girl named Janine and myself went to dance at a club. We danced to the early hours of the morning and I can remember that we walked back to the hotel; at that time, it was safe. Lucette and I became very good friends, and went out together many times. We also went together to visit the North of Italy, and the lakes' region. There again, it was beautiful, and we stayed alongside the lake, "Como," all around there were beautiful villas. It seems, if I recall my memory correctly, that it was there that Mussolini and his mistress were killed. Industry has touched some towns, but in the backcountry, farmers, as always, aged cheeses, pressed wine and olives and cultivated silkworms for mills around the ancient walled city of Como, Italy's silk center. Como's old townhouses, museums and a marble cathedral intrigued the visitors. Lake Maggiore has Stresa, famous for its exotic park of Villa Pallavicino. A short boat ride took us to Isola Bella with its baroque style and its beautiful garden. We also stayed for one night at Isola Peccatiore; there are no cars there as you can go around the whole island with a bicycle. We were woken up in the morning by ducks; how peaceful it was there. We went through parts of Switzerland, Montreux, Gene've, and Berne. If I had been given a choice where I would have liked to live, I would have said Switzerland. It is so beautiful and so clean. Lucette and I went out together many times. Sometimes on Saturday we met at a pastry shop, called "Boutet," for tea. I loved to eat those little rum cakes covered with chocolate. Sometimes we went out on Sundays. Lucette was the maid of honor at my wedding. Every year in La Rochelle, there was the Plymouth to La Rochelle race for yachts. There was a reception consisting of a dinner and a ball. I attended one of them with my father one year, and I remember that they called it, "the blue night," all the ladies were dressed in long blue dresses. The dinner was at one of the estates near the Casino, and after dinner we went to the Casino dancing. Every year in La Rochelle we had what we called "La Foire Commercial." It is like a home show. I always enjoyed going there. I was still working for the Americans, and it is there that I met Don. He was working in the print shop, the place where we took the stencils to be printed. This office was in a room in a cellar, and it was there that Don worked with Sgt. Ross. Sgt. Ross was married to a German girl. Her father was a banker in Berlin. He was taken by the Russians and they never heard from him again, even though they went through the Red Cross, nothing could be found out about him. She went back to Germany, at the time to East Germany, and while
walking toward her house she passed a woman with hair almost all white. She did not recognize her, even though it was her sister; she had aged after going through the horrible experience of been raped several times by Russians. The French people, who were working for the Americans, were called LWRs. I can't remember what it stood for. I think it might have been, Local Wage Rate. Philip Haltigan was working in our section. His wife came to La Rochelle, and it was Francoise (who also worked with us and later married Jean Pierre Bag and lived at Les Bouteaudieres par Nancras Cht-Mme) and I who helped Philip get their apartment ready. I worked in AG a few years before meeting Don. At the beginning, the officers were good, but little by little, they were replaced, and they sent us people with very tiny intelligence. Many of them could not even spell, and we had to correct their mistakes. Colonel Brown, the head of AG for a while, was a fine officer, and we really missed him when he left. He was replaced by Captain Delagarza, who had a big mouth; the young soldiers were afraid of him. There was also Captain Looney, who was stupid. I could not get along with him at all. He never had his wife coming over and he was running around. We also had Lieutenant Haas. When there was a mistake made, he always blamed it on us, to the point that I would not take any orders except if they were written orders. When I told him so, he was not too happy. I also worked with: Arnold Blum, his address in the U.S. was, 1061 G St., Apt No. 2, Springfield, Oregon; Charles Lee, his address in the U.S. was, 5008 N. Steanson, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; John Signor Jr., 242 North Spring Garden, Ambler, PA. Pierre married Ann Joyce in England in November 1940. They have two children: Jean-Paul and Isabelle. Jean Paul married Veronique-Ann Coller and they have two children, Frederick Pierre and Florence. Unfortunately they are now divorced. Isabelle married Philip Gerard, no children. Christiane stayed single. She was planning to marry Roger Faure, a cousin of my mother. He came to live with us before the war to get him away from his sister who had tuberculosis. Unfortunately when he left it was already too late, and eventually he came down with the disease. He was sent away to a sanatorium in Cambo. Christiane does not remember who stopped writing, but she never did find out if he died there or survived. I remember hearing about his sister dying in Paris, and I believe that my mother went to the funeral, but of Roger I do not remember anything, one way or another. Denise married first, Elie Rambeau, from whom she had Jacqueline. Jacqueline married Claude Gamier and lived in La Rochelle. They have one son, who is married and has two children. I do not know any of the children. Denise's first husband died of peritonitis. She then married Raoul Molle and had one child, Ginette; Ginette is married to a Monsieur Charles and resides at 2 Rue Castelneau, La Rochelle. They have a daughter and two grand-daughters. I do not know them either. Jacques married Helene Gatineau; they had one child, Annie. Annie married Georges Marty and they have one son, Olivier. Jacques died in Toulouse on the 5th of May, 1988. Jean married Yvonne Boutin. Yvonne died on the 2nd of January, 1991. They have five children: Jean Pierre, who now lives in Montreal, Canada; Philippe, who lives in Toulon; Madeleine, who lives in La Rochelle; Bernard, who lives in Vancouver, Canada; and Dominique, who also lives in Vancouver, Canada. (Footnote: My mother never finished the story about marrying my father and moving to Boston. But many of the stories she told me as a child right before going to sleep live in these memoirs.)
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