60 Years Ago Today

Saturday, 21 June 1952:

We had breakfast in our room with chocolate rolls and jam. The missionaries were going to Grasse with us. We stopped at the American Express to put in a claim for Watkins’ severely damaged suitcase. Several other suitcases were banged up, but not as badly. Herr Watkins bought a new one.

Grasse was a small Medieval town on the French Riviera, that was founded as a Republic in the 12th century. In 1732 Heinrich Herterich was a Franchard painter here. Later Pauline Boneparte, younger sister of Napoleon, separated from her husband in 1887 and came to Grasse. It provided a quiet little city for convalescents. Queen Victoria spent several winters here. Napoleon came here after his escape from Elba and was received here at Grasse, but he only stayed one hour.

Grasse, built on a hill, was a major support of the perfume and tourist industry in France. It takes one ton of flowers to make one quart of perfume or two pounds of essence. The process involves fat drawing perfume from the flowers and alcohol extracting the perfume from the fat. Then it is mixed with alcohol to make liquid and beeswax to make solid perfume. There are different processes for each flower as some flowers are more delicate.

Girl workers can’t eat garlic for three months when working with the perfume in the third process while aging perfume for three months in agitators. In the last stage, the perfume is mixed with alcohol 15-18% blended or straight. Everybody was smelling the perfume like mad. It smelled good, too!

The perfume manager had been in the movie business for 12 years in publicity and production. However he liked the perfume business better. Face powders and creams were also manufactured here. Vegetable coloring was used to make powder rouge and lipstick. I gave Herr Watkins a bottle of pain restorers for his headache. Then we had a beautiful scenic drive back .
We stopped to eat at the restaurant, La Cyrano, with the missionaries. We had a good dinner with potage, macaroni au gratin, ham, potatoes and two desserts for 270 francs. Afterwards Carol and I went shopping at Lafayette Galaria for gloves and baby clothes. I didn’t buy anything though. In any case I spotted a store with Iris on the front.

We visited an old cathedral. Just as we were leaving, a funeral procession was coming in. The priest stood by the door and the pall bearers carried in the wooden casket from the hearse. A handful of mourners in black followed the casket.

We window shopped on the way back “home”. We had to ask for directions to the hotel several times, but on our way back we had a strawberry pastry. Gee, everybody wore shorts in this town. I wondered if it could be a beach town.

Touring Students View History, Personality of Old France

(Editor’s note: This is another letter from Mrs. George H. Hansen of Provo on her impressions of a tour she is making with 36 college students through Europe.)

Dear Friends,
Can you imagine this group of Brigham Young University students swimming in the Mediterranean Ocean? We could hardly believe it ourselves-that three weeks after leaving home, we find ourselves on the French Riviera of Cannes in Southern France.

The weather is pleasantly warm this morning and I am sitting here in the Cecil Hotel watching the servants prepare the hotel for the day, also I am watching the street vendors hurrying on their way to market.

After seeing the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean, it is the tall date palms and magenta colored bougainvillea, that attract our attention.

The enchantment of distance has for days now given way to the romance of reality, as we travel along the tree-lined highways. Our comfortable American Express bus is being chauffeured by Andre, a genial Frenchman of about 40 years of age. The loud speaking system, a very good educational device, permits all of us to hear the two professors, and occasionally the missionaries, tell the stories of history as our imagination sees them in the making.

We have seen the conquest of France by the Romans. Those immense amphitheaters (two) with thick stone walls built in the first century B.C. are still being used. Across the street from our hotel in Nimes, France we saw the numerous arched entrances, which afford an exit, in a matter of minutes, for more than 20,000 spectators who will see a bull fight there Saturday.

We are told that there are more Roman ruins here than there are in Rome. There are also more swallows living in crevasses and niches of the ruins than there are in Utah.

A picture of the old beside the new was seen in Vienne. The beautiful old Temple of Aquate et de Liver, built in 41 A.D., is located across the street from an American Launderette where 12 or more automatic washers are in motion.

For several hours on Wednesday we stopped at Fontaine-bleau. We walked through the halls where that big-little man Napoleon walked and talked. His bed was so short that we felt sorry for him, until we learned that he was only five feet and two inches tall. He often carried one of his beds with him when going to battle.

When Napoleon and other emperors and kings of France were at home they lived in the splendor we now marvel. The carved, gilted wood ceilings were designed to correspond with the floors of nine to 15 different kinds of wood. The exquisitely chiseled crystal and bronze chandelier, for which Napoleon paid 4000 francs (more that $1300) in 1945, is probably the largest of many.

The velvety black, carved ebony cabinet of Empress Marie Louise and the harp of Empress Josephine are only a part of the elaborate furnishings of this old stone chateau, built in the 11th Century. The stone staircase, horseshoe-shaped, at the entrance is a mark of individuality for such buildings.

But this country of France does not lack for individuality. Indeed, the personality of these 43 million Frenchmen is sometimes puzzling and sometimes provocative. The little old man driving a mother turkey with two little ones in front of our bus; the street cleaners whisking the gutters with their willow brooms; the small statue of Mother Mary carved in rock about 20 feet above the highway; and palatial homes on the Riviera are all scenes of amazement to the traveler.

-Afton A. Hansen

We took a nap at the hotel for a few minutes. Then we went on our way to a military concert around 8 p.m. We stopped at A La Riviera Department Store to get a piece of material to make a purse. We arrived at an intersection jammed with people. This must be the place. Then music started coming from down the street. The French Navy (at least that was our interpretation of their uniform) came marching into the center of the square. There was more music as the Marines marched in from another street. In competition with the Marines and Navy, the Army came in from still another street. The Air Corp. marched in last and took a position between the other two forming somewhat of a square in the middle.

They played several numbers together and then the Navy wearing berets marched off. They were followed by the Marines in Khaki. Then the Air Corps, which were wearing white hats, strolled toward the beach through a park. There seemed to be a crowd going in a certain direction, so we followed them and ended up at an outdoor amphitheater with the Navy on the stage getting ready to play. We recognized Aprea de ma Blonde and a medley of English tunes including Old Folks at Home. The Marines in khakis and white followed. Both of them played standing up. They brought chairs in for the French Air Corp. They had more of a concert type band with flutes.

Alice talked to the lady next to us and she said they are just marching through Nice for other parts of France. Gee, I really wish I had brought my camera with me. I could have gotten some great pictures as the sunset. Some people started leaving when the more classical numbers were being played by the Air Corp. The other two groups came back in for the finale. And each time before they started playing each group twirled their horns and trumpets together with flags hanging down from their horns and drums.

The amphitheater had an orchestra pit in front of the stage and above the stage were statues, flags, and hanging ferns. A big statue at the back of the arena was put there to celebrate the French Centennial by the maritime services from 1792-1803. Emblems of the crown of France and Navy were displayed at the front of the stage. There were white wooden folding chairs placed throughout for seats. Each level was covered with coarse grass and had a stone edge. We were hoping they would play the French National Anthem and they did! Everyone stood up for La Marseillaise and so did we. We watched the bands crawl into their trucks right in front of the beach and we waved to them. Soon after we strolled on down the beach as if nothing had happened.

After hearing music across the way, we followed it to the Hotel Ruhl. They had beautiful sidewalks and an inside restaurant bar with an orchestra. A sign near the entrance stated they were open all year long. We caught the sight of delicious silver platters of food through the doors of the restaurant. And there was a window display of beautiful clothes inside the lobby. Next was a huge lounge with plush red Victorian furniture and really big lamps with peach satin shades in all four corners. I mean really huge lamps! Then I sat down on the wooden bench outside the hotel to write these notes. Our stomachs were calling so we were off in search of food.

Guess what? Here is Le Cyrano again. It wasn’t too bad the first time so I guess we’ll give it another shot. I had hors-d’oeuvres, ham, potatoes, raspberry and apple butter. An English fellow at a table near ours wrote a note on his napkin “Did you get what you ordered?” He sent it over with the waitress. As he left he came by and talked to us for a moment and we thanked him for his concern. When we got to the two desserts, Alice ordered an orange. She peeled it and lo and behold it was red instead of orange. She asked the waitress how come she got a rouge orange. The waitress explained that she thought it was an orange sanguine from Spain. It was as red as blood.

Later we came down the dark alley from Lilygrass where there was a lady on the street with a dog. Then we cut back to the main thoroughfare, Victoire, even though it meant retracing our steps back to the hotel. At the hotel we crawled into bed as fast as possible.

60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 18 June 1952:

At 9:40 a.m. we were leaving Paris by way of the Bastille, which was the site of the state prison. The monument was all that was left of the prison. The monument was dedicated to the glory of French citizens who had sacrificed their lives for the Republic and also to remind the French people of the prison which was attacked on July 14, 1789.

Next we continued on by the Palace of Fontainebleau, which was spared by the French Revolution. I thought the palace wasn’t as architecturally interesting as Versaille was though. However, the Palace of Fontainebleau was much older in history and bigger and richer in historical memoirs.

It was originally started in the 12th century by Louis VII and the commune area was known for passions of hunting and love making. The fountain in the woods was owned by Bleau, therefore its name. On the way we caught sight of the Fontainebleau gardens and a garrison which had been established to keep the poachers and robbers away.

There was an archway with a tree which had been trimmed square with American field troops operating by the roadside. Thick vegetation was everywhere with trees and shrubs lining the road. Lot Dayton, Chief Historian at Fontainebleau, was from Weber State College. Earlier he had been a historian for Eisenhower.

In the antechamber we observed Napoleon’s hat, a painting of Napoleon in emperor’s dress, and a beautiful crystal and gold chandelier. The secretariat’s room had a crystal and gilded bronze chandelier in the back room and glass fragments from the tomb of Princess Louise, daughter of Louis XV.

Next were the rooms where Napoleon abdicated the throne before going to Elba. There was a mural showing the power of justice as we continued to the rooms of the emperor where there was a replica of Napoleon’s cradle. The symbol of a general changed to a symbol of an eagle when he became emperor.

Louis XV had decorated these rooms. The Napoleon council room in the minister’s throne room had the bee as a symbol. When he had been a general, he had chosen the honeybee symbol which represented a hard working man. Soon after was a portrait (copy) of Louis XIII, priceless chandelier, 40,000 francs in Napoleon’s time, apartment of Marie Antoinette, present decorations from Louis XVIII, and bedroom of six different Marie’s including Marie Medici, Teresa, Antoinette, and Louise.

Farther on was Marie Antoinette’s bed, Marie Louise’s jewelry box, and Minerva painted on the ceiling, Then we continued on to Empress Josephine’s harp, a music room, and Napoleon III’s Empress Eugenia reception room. It had two original chairs in the different rooms for the lady of honor. Then we discovered the library that had been made for Diane and murals covering the rounded ceiling.

The Renaissance antechamber was where Frances I married Constantine. Then there were more Frances I rooms which had furnishings, a tapestry on chairs of Beauvais, an ivory box belonging to Anne of Austria, and the first glass introduced from the city of Venice in the 16th century. There was a room where Louis XVIII was born.

Next was a square tower room that was the oldest part of Fontainebleau from the 12th century. And all the kings from Francis I and later have added something to the palace. We proceeded on to see enamel incense burners, Henry IV on the horse that was sculptured in marble, , and hand carved ebony cabinets. I noticed Italian work was more ornate than the French. There were fifteen different kinds of wood in the floor and the floor and ceiling corresponded with a similar look.

Louis XV built a stairway as an entrance to other rooms and one of the rooms was the favorite of Francis I. Later the queen had coverings put over the nude statues. The ceiling was finished by Louis Philippe in 1830 and the gallery was completed by Henry II. The gallery room had last been used in 1930. Again there were nine kinds of wood in the floor. Then we noticed the room of the governess of Louis 14th, Salon of Madame du Manteneau. I could see the old entrance and gardens to the palace from the window.

We ate our lunches on the bus after leaving Fontainebleau. Gee—the food sure tasted good! We had sandwiches with some of Alene’s meat (spam, I believe). Then we had bananas, oranges, and a pastry to finish the meal.

The bus ride included varied interesting and beautiful images: wild poppies everywhere, crossing railroad tracks, one red and white pole raised by a lady at a little booth by the side of the tracks, trimmed Montargis tree in the park, sidewalk part of the road which was as wide as the street, water tank with the name of the city of Nogent on it, X on signs for crossroads, repairing roads, wild poppies growing profusely in fields along the roadside, square white mileage signs, and scenery which reminds me of the way to Yellowstone without the pine trees. I couldn’t forget the scenery inside Andre’s bus with a little doll hanging from the top of the windshield.

As we continued traveling we passed the Briare Canal, a tributary of the Seine, and women working in the fields alone. I caught sight of a man on a bicycle with a cart behind him and another lady pulling her cart along the road as well. There was little traffic on the French roads. There was a gorgeous field of tall white flowers was used to make oil for salads. Then we went through a little town that had narrow winding streets like Mexican cities. We moved along a curbed road lined with trees with a valentine sign, a mowed swatch of grass along side the road, and some men working on the railroad Nuervy underpass. After awhile I started dozing. Then Andre hit his funny loud horn and I woke right up.

Along the roadside there was a beautiful grove of trees, load of hay, lumberyard, cut patch of grass raked and ready to bunch. I kept dozing. After my napping I came to realize there was a little horn and big horn that could jerk me quickly out of my sleep.

Now back to sightseeing. La Charite in Loire Valley dispersed on both sides of the River Allier. In the next village I spotted a house covered with climbing vines. Then we passed groves of trees still maturing, Nevers train station, Hotel Moderne, and some grass bunched along the road.
Soon we stopped at the railroad station. Was it really a “dealy” for the bathroom? However, I didn’t go in and walked down the street to the pastry shop. I enjoyed a fresh roll with raisins, an orange, and a drink. Yea, a clean toilette in the shop! Back on the road there was construction on both sides of road. Soon there were cattle in the fields, and then pigs, sheep, and cows.

In the city of Moiry there were cement telephone poles with rectangular squares. And we learned that each average French farm had 25 acres. The tobacco, utilities, armament, and matches industry were run by the government. If there was a fire, owners of the buildings had to pay for the expenses and damages. The franc was worth 25 cents to an American dollar before World War I and about 36 francs to a dollar before World War II.

The French in this area were Celtics. Their language related to Latin, Greek, Slavic. They were a tall fair-haired people that lived in tribes and had the Druid religion. The Romans wiped them out and ruled with no written law. Clovis was the first king to unite all the tribes in France and he became an important leader in France. He was Christian, so all warriors converted to Christianity. Clovis succeeded in driving out the Visigods from Southern France. In 350 a.d. the Franks in the north had headquarters in Paris and the Burgundians were in Southeastern France.
We saw the old Castle Orateau which was built during the Renaissance in the 9th century. As the Frankish kings became weaker, Charlemagne took over from 768-814 a.d. as a Frankish king and helped define Western and Central Europe. Also, Charlemagne protected the Pope while he knelt in prayer and as a result the Pope crowned him the King of the Renaissance.

The Carolingian Renaissance, in 843 a.d. , stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe. This was the beginning of the Romance languages. Later the Burgundians, a Eastern Germanic tribe, with their seat of government in Dijon, France and Geneva, Switzerland were subdued by the Franks. Afterwards, the fierce and warlike Normans came in the 9th and 10th centuries while Rouen was the capital of Normandy. Charles the Simple, the French king, gave his daughter to a Viking leader Rollo. Then the Normans accepted Christianity and became a vassal to the king.

Later the Normans in 1066 a.d. conquered England and the Normans took home with them the French language and culture, because they had forgotten their own. As a result the French language became the official language of Europe.

The Englishmen like action and wild behavior where the Frenchmen were more mind oriented, intellectual and not so sports minded. Also the French loved order and Frenchmen were more subtle in tastes and in expressing their opinions. However the Spanish were passionate. And the Germans loved romantic literature and had feelings of love. Romanticism came to prevail with Victor Hugo, a French playwright and author, for a short period of time.

Back to sightseeing we saw French peasants that were passing through the rich fertile farm area. In the Middle Ages, the French peasants were a little better off than the European peasants in general. They were quite satisfied with their lives as fifty percent had become land owners during the revolution. This status and high percentage was the best in Europe. In 1952 nearly all the land in France was owned by peasants. The peasants represented the one big obstacle to communism. However there were some sharecroppers in Southwest France that were breeding places of communism. Today France and England have the same form of government.

In the 19th century, peasants constituted 75% of the population. Whereas in 1952, 23% of the population were peasants. Tredita Agular lent money to the peasants. But there were no big supermarkets or tractors to be seen anywhere, because peasants disliked machines. When the peasants died out, the farms were given back to the government.

On the road I spied some road construction where the workmen wore wooden shoes. Then we stopped at a small town on the way for drinks and gas at 80 cents a gallon. Before we left we gave gum to two little girls in the restaurant.

Now back in the bus we gazed at the scenery which had beautiful rolling hills, checkerboard farms, and tombs in a cemetery. There were little tombs where people had been buried on top of each other.

Next on the drive was a basketball court, windmill, vineyard, red tile roofs, circus in Roanne, and Loire River. The night brought a beautiful rainbow and sunset. Coming up was Lyon, France which was the largest silk center and one of the leading car producing centers in Europe. It was the second largest city in France.

Finally we arrived at Hotel de Angleterre about 10:30 p.m. We were hungry and the dining room had just closed as we arrived. Can you believe I got a room 51 all by myself! It has a big double bed, plush red cover, and marble fireplace. Sadly Connie came down to sleep with me though.
In the bathroom I discovered a lavatory, foot bath, hot water, and a short bed with a canvas sheet on the bottom. It was a modern look with a roll pillow and big pillow on the bed. Mrs. Hansen and Dick were put in the same room. The hotel changed it when they realized what had been done.