Monday, October 17, 2011

Our time at Chize

This weekend my mother asked me if I'd mind listing an old tapestry on eBay since she no longer cares about keeping it.  She bought it in 1959 during a three year period when we lived in France.  My father was stationed at Chize and we lived in the countryside in a little row house.  She bought the tapestry from an Algerian man who was selling them door-to-door.  That wasn't unusual then, that's also how she bought her Rosenthal china.  Between the door-to-door salespeople and the travelers or gypsies, it seemed like someone was always knocking on the door.

Our street.
Mom also gave me some old slides that were taken then since I have a slot for slide scanning on my scanner.  I was able to scan them but I probably should have let George do it since he has a Nikon scanner that's strictly for slides.  There's a lot of discoloration and fading on the slides but it's definitely us.  These have my mother, neighbors, my sister Pam and me in them. 

My mother is second from left.
I have no idea why I'm wearing that bodacious scarf -- that's me in the scarf and plaid skirt with the great legs.  Pam was wearing a scarf, too. We probably just wanted to wear them because my mother often did -- they're huge on us.  Mom probably bought those from someone at the door, too.  We really weren't near anything other than the base where we lived.  I know that it was a pretty long trip to Paris.

 I do remember a few things from our time there since I was 5 when we left.  I recall visiting the Eiffel Tower although we couldn't go past the second level because there was restoration/maintenance being performed.
Me on my bike.

I remember our babysitter, Madame Blondeaux (sp?).  She was an older lady who used to bike to our house from her farm.  She and her husband raised chickens.  They had a son named Jean-Paul. Pam and I were crazy about Blondeaux. My parents hired her to do some light housework and as a babysitter for us when they wanted to go out.  It was very hard to say good-bye when we left. 

Goldilocks (aka Pam) on her trike.

I was hoping one of the slides had a pic of our car -- a pale blue Simca
-- which was pretty popular over there because it was so cheap.  We brought ours back to the states with us but my parents switched back to Chevrolet pretty quickly.  I did find a picture of one that is pretty similar to ours. 
A Simca -- similar to ours.

Often I wish I had been older when we lived there so that I would remember more.  (I've been back to the UK but not France or Germany.)  My father had already traveled all over Europe before he met my mother.  However, this was her first time out of the U.S. and it was a little scary for her.  One day we came home, Mom and Pam and I, to discover a young gypsy woman inside our house.  Every door and window was locked from the inside and it freaked my mother out because she couldn't figure out how she had gotten in.  Obviously, this lady found a way in but my mother never discovered how she did it.  Score one for paranoia. 

Mom did give the French high marks for their pastries, though.  She became addicted and, since she was a picky eater herself, insisted that she practically lived off them for those three years.  Whenever she sees any European style bakery she always likes to check it out.  I feel the same way about European pastries.  That's a habit I picked up from her that I could probably live without but I'd rather go light on a meal and have something scrumptious.  Vive la France!

A friend, me and Pam.


  1. This is a nice childhood story, and with photos yet! You and Pam are so cute. I'm with you on desserts--that's how I was raised. We have a ton of slides that somebody in the family is supposed to be scanning, but I haven't seen any results yet. Years ago I had prints made of just a few, but it would cost a fortune to print everything. I'll bet George could do something on his computer to help preserve the color and details.

  2. Thank you! Yes, George could probably do something to improve these. All I really know how to do is scan and then maybe sharpen and remove dust, etc.

  3. Do you know how to pronounce Chize? I just like to know these things. I'm thinking it must be similar to cheese.

  4. Yes, it's Shi-zay. Short 'i' sound and long 'a'.

  5. I was at Chize 1959=-1961. What a place. We have had fifteen reunions. I organized the group. Let me hear from you.

    Donn Brooks

  6. I'll have to ask my mom if she knew you.
    I have some memories of it but I was pretty
    young. :)