Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fabulous French Find!

From my Fabulous French Find
The Arc de Triomphe and a fountain at Versailles

Friday night I was preparing for my Sunday workshop, "Mind Your Own Beeswax." This was a basic encaustic class, including collage. While I was collecting and printing images I wished I had more images of Paris.

The next day while I was downtown I popped into the Goodwill store across from the Central Library, just to see if they had any cool stuff in. There, displayed on the counter, was an old photograph album. It seemed to have pictures of Paris. From what I could see, it had a bunch of vintage tinted photos of Paris and environs and seemed to have a lot else, too. I started to get excited, you know, that thrill when you think you have a find, but want to play it cool?

I nonchalantly asked the clerk if this item on display might be for sale. She found the price (very reasonable) and I grabbed the album, paid for it, and gloated all the way home.

Mais, certainement, the album had the most famous icon of all. It also had a lot of photos from the Liberation of Paris from the Nazis in 1945. At first I thought these were candid shots and I should turn the album over to an historian. It seems, however, that the album was made by an American who bought the pictures from a now-defunct company. (I checked--my photographer daughter made me do it...)

Below is a photograph of Parisians dancing in the streets into the wee hours to celebrate the Liberation.

The album has photographs and cards of Lourdes, many towns in France and Switzerland, lots of nature. especially huge cataracts of water, and much more.

The album keeper visited the monument of Fort de Vaux at Verdun, a relic of WWI. I'd never heard of Ft. de Vaux. Here's what I found when I looked it up online:

A major monument is the Fort de Vaux, 4km east of Fleury where, after six days' hand-to-hand combat in the confined, gas-filled tunnels, the French garrison, without food or water, were left with no alternative but surrender. On the exterior wall of the fort a plaque commemorates the last messenger pigeon sent to the command post in Verdun, vainly asking for reinforcements. Having safely delivered its message, the pigeon expired as a result of flying through the gas-filled air above the battlefield. It was posthumously awarded the Légion d'Honneur.

There are several haunting pictures of this tunnel fort in the album.

Close to the end of the album I found some actual "home-made" snapshots.

Here we seem to have an early post-war band in a nightclub of sorts. Below some couples enjoy the music and beer.

I'm just too curious about these people. Who were they? What kind of lives did they have?

This album is certainly providing me with lots of ideas for future projects!

This photo is my favorite. Here's an army medical unit--they remind me of M*A*S*H.

I love these guys! Quel savoir-faire!

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