60 Years Ago Today

Tuesday, 17 June 1952:

I t was a slow start as we discovered the Louvre was not open. Wouldn’t that frost you? And that was where I had planned to spend most of the day. Instead we stopped by an oculist (ophthalmologist) shop to get the ear piece on my sunglasses fixed. Thanks to Alicia, we were successful in getting the lady to understand us.

Then we left a forwarding address at the American Express for the next mail stop. Next was the Lafeyette Department Store that was just like an opera house. It had a dome of stained glass and ornate gold railings around each floor.

We had lunch on the terrace of the Lafayette Department Store after searching four floors to find it. We had a view of the apartment roofs. There were two table cloths, cloth napkins, ice water, and bread. I ordered an omelette and ham while I ate four pieces of bread. Alice got a rare steak, but by using her French she got it recooked some more.

Then we paid the cashier and left for Printemps, another department store, and cheaper restaurant. We found the toy department and bought Kleenex for 325 francs.

Outside again, a lady surprisingly stopped and asked me “ou est la metro?” We tried to help her and then we took the metro to the Seine River. We got off near Sarah Barnhardt’s Theatre and identified the Saint Jacques Tower. We traveled to see St. Chapelle but it was closed. Tuesday’s sure seemed to be the day for everything to be closed.

Instead we strolled down by the Seine River. Here we saw another side of Paris. People lived in river boats with their wash blowing in the breeze. Others seemed to live along the banks, although we didn’t see any shelter for them. One man was washing his clothes in the river while an old beggar was eating trash out of a dirty can. Others were laying by the side of the river sleeping or unconscious. Then we took pictures of some little children and gave them some gum.

We found the Pont Marie metro station to go to the Eiffel Tower. We changed lines five times in order to get to the Eiffel Tower by the shortest route. We switched once at Franklin D. Roosevelt Station, made a mistake, and had to come back to it from Etaile.

The newest and most modern show windows on the trains were of an aluminum looking material. The walls were covered with the same thing as well. It was really smoky and stuffy in the train. I missed a few scenes resting my eyes.

Afterwards, there was one interesting scene with a Negro nanny, daddy and little baby crying. Another scene showed a spinning pool on a stage. It was quite a trick with girls coming down from the ceiling. I took several good shots from the second Etage (story). I was going to walk up to see it but I didn’t have time. The metro was jammed with people going home from work. We literally rubbed shoulders with the people of France.

I met a cute little English man coming back from the Eiffel Tower to the hotel, and he helped us cross the street. He told us he worked at the auto races.

Then Dick guided us down several streets from the Montmartre metro to get to the Folles Theater at 8:30 p.m. The curtain went up just as we sat down with Dick, Henry, and about thirty women. Talk about luxurious costumes and shapely figures in the play. There were about four risque scenes, but nothing in particular happened when they were all dressed up. It was interesting.

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60 Years Ago Today

Saturday, 14 June 1952:

At 7:45 a.m. Alicia and I ate breakfast which consisted of oranges and apples. Next was a meeting about opera tickets. As we left the Republique Hotel, we saw women riding bikes with their dresses billowing in the wind.

At 10 a.m. we departed to the Hotel de Ville, a Renaissance municipal building, where the affairs of the city were carried on. This building and the opera were the most sumptuous buildings. Under the clock on the Hotel de Ville were the words liberty, equality and fraternity where there were hundreds of pigeons residing. There were flags flying there for a military organization ceremony centennial celebration (Official Leguard Republique de Ville military reception).

Next we headed to Notre Dame on Island Ile de la Cite. We saw the statue of Voltaire and crossed the Seine River to the Hotel Dieu, which was the oldest hospital dating back to 500 a.d. Then I observed a small shop with china which was stacked up really high as we arrived at Notre Dame. It was one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals in France and was built between 1163 and 1240 on Ile de la Cite. No other building in Paris was more worthy of a visitor’s attention.

At Notre Dame the street level came up 13 steps where St. Denis was holding his head that was chopped off. There was exquisite iron work on the doors and under the balustrade was the king’s row that had 28 statues representing the 28 kings of France. It started as a Romanesque church which transitioned into the mother of all Gothic architecture in France and Europe. All distances in France were measured from the front of Notre Dame. It was in construction so long, they lost the plans.

In addition, it was supposed to have had two big spires on the top. The left portal pointed above and the right portal did not. And there was a big rose window in the center with recessed portals in front. Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame was supposed to have gone along the top to ring the bell.
Notre Dame was over 800 years old and inside Notre Dame, I couldn’t see any gold. I learned there was no gold with Gothic—that was Byzantine. But there were huge massive pillars, bundled columns, and Corinthian capitol decorations that adorned the building. The stained glass windows had rather subdued colors except for the big windows at the front sides and high up.
Some church workers wore Napoleon looking costumes as I viewed the vaulted ceilings and Joan of Arc statue. We paid 50 francs to go up and see the gargoyles. I noticed the spiral staircase, peep holes and big Notre Dame bell which weighed 13,000 tons. The bell could be heard for ten kilometers on holidays and national events. At the end of the tour everyone gave tips to the guide. I had to go back to tip the guide because I hadn’t tipped him yet.

In April 1682 Louis 14th and Queen Mary had been christened father and godmother of the Notre Dame bell. It had such a beautiful sound with the bell tower measuring two meters by six hundred meters high. In order to ring the bell it took 500 kilograms of power or a total of eight men to swing the bell with four men on each paddle. There were oak timber works to support the bell and its name was Emanuel. This was the second largest bell of Paree after the largest bell at Sacre Coeur Basilica at 17 tons. Then I had someone snap a picture of a gargoyle and me.

There was a spiral staircase, funeral hearse, and flowers on the outside of the oldest royal palace. I caught sight of a streetside john and the police department. Next we visited the Coeur de la Ste Chapelle. It was one of the smallest cathedrals in France and one of the best examples of Gothic architecture, 1200-1450 a.d. The cathedral was high reaching in order to get closer to God. It was on the grounds of the Palais de Justice where Marie Antoinette was tried and imprisoned.

Outside there was iron work on the apartment buildings and accessible Latin Quarter with its attic apartments. Then I experienced the famous Boulevard St. Germain with all of its stores, ancient forum, lions den, and Cluny Museum. We passed a French lady that was on the street knitting and selling papers.

After taking a picture of the chapel where the musicians were performing in the streets, we visited the Sorbonne University where Hugh Law went to school. Next we toured Lycee Saint Louis, an ancient college, with its library, Bibliotheque de Universitie, and round amphitheater lecture rooms. In these amphitheater rooms doctors’ five hour examinations were held where the public was invited to attend. And these rooms were used to teach French to foreigners of all ages and where students worked on their master’s degrees.

There was a beautiful painting above the lecturer’s desk with accompanying plaques presenting the faculty of the school. Other paintings included Corneille, Moliere, Pascal, Bossiret, Descartes, Racine, and Cardinal Richlieu. There were paintings on the ceiling, beautiful gold work around the pictures, and gold velvet on the doors. As I looked around at the paintings, I was distracted by a one armed man who came in. Focusing back at the art, I looked at statues of Victor Hugo and Pasteur.

With repairs being made to the front of the church of Sorbonne, the inside of the church had the original organ at the back of the chapel. The tomb of Richlieu, cardinal of France, was buried there along with his whole family and had marvelous carved details on his statue—folds, lace, wrinkles in hands—by sculpture Girardon. In 1694 it was made out of one block of marble and his hat hung above his statue. Also, a mural of Richlieu in a gold robe was three centuries old. At the end there was a statue, sculpture of bronze, of Cardinal Richlieu on his death chair by LeFavre in 1642. He died while writing with his eyes open at age 57.

The courtyard had lines drawn representing the original Sorbonne. There were exams going on so we couldn’t go into the library. Then I discovered the murals of middle ages characters and talked to a student about Latin and Greek languages. Herr Watkins had attended this school for about two years.

A student showed us around and helped us find a restaurant and pastry shop. At the restaurant the waiter accidentally spilled water on my skirt. The man was in a tizzy, because all of us didn’t want full dinners. I could hardly wait to see what the soup looked like. My second thought was I wish I hadn’t ordered the soup. In fact, I certainly was not hungry when I saw the soup—it looked disgusting. I ate all my pastries instead and I could see I was going to starve to death in France.

We visited the Pantheon, a Romanesque architecture, which included the tombs of famous Frenchmen. The inscription above the entrance read Aux Grands Hommes La Patrie Reconnaissante. It means to great men the grateful homeland. We walked around the Pantheon that was built over the tomb of St. Genevieve. We saw the tombs of Voltaire, Hugo, Rousseau, and a monument to unknown heroes. There was a list of battles with murals of Vow of Clovis at the Battle of Tolbiac and St. Genevieve. There were more murals: Joan de Arc, St. Genevieve giving Parisians confidence as the Attilons or Huns approached Paris, barbarians coming into Paris, and Le Martyre de Saint Denis.

We continued sightseeing with the Palace of Luxembourg, gardens, and Senate building. We met up with Eloise and Ginny as we walked past the Saint Sulpice Church and Abbey of St.-Germain-des-Pres. We asked a man “ou est la metro?” as we struggled with our French until he asked us if we spoke German or English. Speaking in English he gave us directions.

A couple of blocks farther on we stopped a young lady and asked “ou est la metro?” She bettered him by personally showing us to a bus stop and telling us how to take the auto bus directly to the Louvre. She informed us that the bus costs 5 francs cheaper than the metro.

Then a nice lady sat by me on the bus and showed us where to get off. I had a little trouble finding the entrance across from the Lafayette statue which was erected by U.S. school children in memory of Lafayette, a French general. We only had a half hour at the Louvre before it closed at 5 p.m. Then we transferred to another metro in order to return to the hotel to get ready for the opera. Montie Woolley showed us the way.

We were late for the reception at the LDS branch before the opera, because we couldn’t locate the address. It ended up being upstairs and we only had thirty minutes left for the reception. We sang a French song and introduced ourselves. They gave us lollipops afterwards and we sucked the lollipops as we charged down the street in our heels. The French people stared at us anyway, so one can imagine what a show that was!

The L’ Opera Building, which was built in 1669, had chandeliers of glass and gold. As we climbed up several flights of stairs at the opera the lady would not allow us into our box without a tip. She wanted 100 francs from each of us, but she settled for 100 from the five of us: Hermine, Bonnie, Alene, Lucy and me.

We sat behind a pillar, kinda sorta, and the first act had already started. Eloise finally arrived several minutes later with the news that Alice didn’t have her ticket and that the usher had kept her 1000 franc note. We tried to locate Dr. Rogers, but we had no luck.

Then we left in order to attempt to recover her change. Yea! We retrieved her money back successfully. However, we had not found Dr. Rogers. But at the end of the first act we found Dr. Rogers and there were no more tickets available. And to top it off Alice was gone and heavens knows where!

We hurried back for the second act. The box next door was empty so Eloise and I climbed over to the next box just as the lights went out. At the end of the act, I borrowed some money from Alene to go and phone the hotel to check on Alice.

Before I got to the door, the usher came bursting in talking sixty miles an hour in an excited voice. We had a stinking suspicion that the characters next door had been tattling on us. We acted dumb and walked out running headlong into Alice.

Miracle of all miracles! When hearing her story, they let her in for nothing. She had been sitting with some English people in a box right next to the stage. So Eloise, Alice and I hurry back over to her box for the next act.

It was interesting to watch the orchestra and actors at close range. We found the bar between the next act and quenched our thirst with an orange drink. We scrambled back to box 24, our original box, for the last act.

The staging of Rigoletto was superb. The set was three dimensional and in the last act there were moving clouds and storms. Rigoletto was a romantic opera with love, vengeance, and tragedy. At the end there were only two curtain calls.

The opera house was elaborate with ornate gold work, glass and gold chandeliers, murals on the ceiling, and marble stairs. There was a predominance of Americans in attendance. Afterwards, we met a tennis player from the ship and went to an American restaurant, Pam Pam, across the street. We sat at sidewalk tables which were near a colored boy and several interesting California couples, who both were staying at the Grand Hotel.

As we compared notes, the conversation was fascinating about our trip and theirs. They came on Ille de France which was leaving Le Havre harbor as we were coming in on the Sibijak. Then I ordered a bacon tomato sandwich with cheese to go, for lunch tomorrow, you know.

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.