60 Years Ago Today

Friday, 13 June 1952:

At 8:45 a.m. the bed felt wonderful and I had a hard time getting up. The time for things to start was 9 a.m. When we got to the lobby we were late and it was deserted. We stood around in a quandary of what to do. I guess this was a good lesson for us to be on time. Oh, oh, disappointment! Time ticked away. Yea! I saw them and they hadn’t left us after all. They had j­­­­­­­­­­ust finished breakfast.

Finally a little before 11 a.m., we were off. We passed a man drawing beautiful pictures with chalk on the sidewalk of Notre Dame and the Seine River. We went to American Express on the metro. This was all very confusing and I was glad someone knew the score.

Bev’s boyfriend, Bob Mercer, a released missionary, came to the hotel to help show us around. The walls of the underground metro station were covered with billboards and posters. And it was just a half block from the hotel. One ad was about body odor, so a girl had a clothespin on her nose.

I bought a ten-ride metro book for 200 francs. Down inside the metro there were big signs all over the walls. There were sortie signs for the exits. Our metro stops included: Temple station, Arts et metiers, Reamur Sebastolpol, Senier, Bourse, Quatre Septembre and Opera. On our seventh stop we jumped off.

Printemp, the biggest department store, was down the street from the American Express and the opera across the street. Did I have any mail at the American Express? Wonderful! I got letters from Mom, Twila, and Marilyn with one inside from Bud. My morale improved 100 percent. I snapped some pictures before leaving and talked to some American soldiers from Dallas, Texas. After an hour or so we took off again.

We took more pictures at the intersection after walking around the Opera building. At the Opera repairs were being made on the front of the building. Next we saw Aux Galeries Lafayette and Toilities de te et de Campagne, one of the largest department stores in France. We walked farther down the street to the Place Vendome. Napoleon’s statue had such beautiful carvings and the leaves represented his victories. The French took the statue down when Napoleon fell at Waterloo. Napoleon’s nephew, Napoleon III, put it back by melting down a canon to rebuild the monument. The clouds made the statue seem like it was moving.

Then we went to Jardin des Tuileries, one of Paris’s most visited gardens. Eloise said they were going to use my yellow ribbon, which I lost there, for a landmark. While there Dr. Rogers was accosted by a man with pictures of nudes.

The next stops were the Place de la Concorde, Arch de Triomphe du Ca, and du Louvre that had beautiful iron work and elaborate carvings.

Afterwards we went to the restaurant, E. Robert and H. Bogey. It was cheap, just 148 francs, but ugh! We wandered in du Louvre while waiting for the mob. It seemed we needed to start moving faster. Paree might wait for us, but our time wasn’t going to wait for us ever. And we only had five days in Paris. Distracted I looked around and spotted a beautiful plaid silk organza dress for 24,000 francs.

Finally, we were off again. There were not many new cars in Paris and trinkets and tourist items were everywhere in the store windows. Hotel Maurice was probably like a hotel in Mexico no doubt. The mob was strung out the length of a block and we ended up at some kind of shop Bob Mercer had guided us to. The lady supposedly gave us a bargain.

Then we proceeded to go across Tuileries to Place de la Concorde and the American Embassy. This area was considered the wealthiest area of Paris. We found a statue placed where Marie Antoinette was killed by guillotine and her blood flowed in the streets in 1793.

Next on our tour was the Avenue des Champs Elysses which was built for Napoleon’s march of victory. Strangely no one sits on the grass in the beautiful parks here. Then I spotted small kids who were riding donkeys in the park along Champs Elysses.

There were sidewalk cafes and pigeons on the gravel along the sidewalk. I couldn’t really tell which was the street or sidewalk. The cars came right up on what I thought was the sidewalk. Later we passed a store for tall femmes and fat femmes. At a sidewalk cafe we stopped and had orange mineral water (looked like lemon). I took a picture of the Arc de Triomphe with traffic buzzing by on both sides. Then we saw the flame burning on the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Some of the kids got trapped inside a metro at the Anvers station, because they hadn’t moved fast enough to get off. At the Basilique du Sacre Coeur, which was built as an atonement for the pillaging of churches, we rode up on the funicular for 15 francs. It had beautiful ornate gold work, stain glass windows, and a typical Byzantine mosaic. The ham radio operators at the bottom of Sacre Coeur steps talked to us. I had an idea they might be communists from what they said to us. Then we observed the original cloth used by Mary to wipe Christ’s face on his way to his crucifixion. The imprint of his face had remained on the cloth.

Outside children were playing in the sand in front of the church. It was called Montmartre because St. Denis lost his head here while preaching. After his head was chopped off, he picked his head up and walked off preaching for six miles.

Inside the church­­­­ there were confession boxes and elaborate chandeliers with the holy water bowl empty on the left side. A sign requested modest clothing of those who entered the church. Then a bell rang and people kneeled. One lady stood, another lady read, and another repeated something afterwards. I spotted a young girl in white, which usually means it was her first communion.

The church was a combination of Gothic, Byzantine, and Romanesque styles. While the stain glass characteristic was Gothic, I noticed there was a sortie side portal for exiting and an escalator going out to the metro. Really weeping birchy looking trees were by the stairs going down.
Back on the cobblestone streets we bought a really good pastry in a shop for 25 francs. In another shop Alicia and I bought three apples for 118 francs and seven oranges for 113 francs for breakfast tomorrow.

When we met up with Henry, Herr Watkins, and Margaret Brown, they carried a four-foot-long loaf of bread and bottle of milk back to the hotel. And they held the bread without the benefit of wrapping. Herr Watkins told Henry to sneak up the back stairs while he got the key to the room. We returned to our hotel on the elevated metro.

Alene called and wanted to go out and find something to eat. So we crawled across the street to a sidewalky-looking cafe, La Tosca. Whatta deal! Yet this was what we had been warned about. It took us over an hour and a half to get a piece of fish and buy a tablecloth for a couple of American dollars in French francs.

We called this our Opera Comique. In any case we would have tried this cafe later, if not now. We had wanted to eat there tonight so it was good to get it over with. Of course, we swore not to tell anyone else. They could learn for themselves.

The $64 question was who was St. Raphael Quinquina? St. Raphael was one of the seven archangels who performed all manners of healing. Also St. Raphael Quinquina had an alcoholic drink named in his honor.

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