Innocent abroad - to Paris in 1969

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Willbridge

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Recently I unearthed the trip report on my first trip on leave out of Berlin. It was typed for my family in Oregon, so there are some references that are obscure. In early December 1969 it was cold everywhere that I stopped. And I learned the French word "fermée" (closed) quickly. However, in an era when our governments were not getting along well, French people went out of their way to make me feel welcome and tourist spots were glad to have me at that time of year. Click on the typewritten text to enlarge it.

The reference to 'Isabel' is a continuation of a previous post here about escorting a French aristocrat on the South Jersey Coast commuter line.


1969 Paris journey 001.jpg

Braunschweig Hbf - just walk up to the counter and buy a little pasteboard ticket. No reservations required.

ParisTrip1969 096.jpg

1969 Paris journey 002.jpg

Note: Sacre Couer was a basilica, not a cathedral.

226 steps. The funicular was fermée.

ParisTrip1969 115.jpg

More to come.
 
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Willbridge

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Just imagine an Amtrak conductor ducking in to sing "O, My Darling Clementine." Not likely.

Final photo, of the 226 steps, is achingly beautiful. Merci, Willbridge.
I have to confess that the two British ladies and the Frenchwoman ahead of me did the counting. I just overheard them discussing it and wrote it in my notebook. Neither they nor perhaps any of the pedestrians realized that there was a bustitution, as there did not seem to be any signs. I only figured it out on my way down when I saw the bus and operator.

Fashion driven by transportation: the two suburban Englishwomen wore short coats that would be convenient for driving. The Parisienne wore a long coat that would be good for waiting at bus stops. She taught English and had done home stays with the English ladies.

Fashion photo:
ParisTrip1969 127 trio.jpg

Bustitute:

ParisTrip1969 116.jpg
 

Willbridge

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Meeting people.
1969 Paris journey 003.jpg
Hotel Brighton desk clerk was amazed to discover that they still had a NATO discount on their rate sheets. They apologized because this room was all that was available. For a single it was about $19 a night, on the Rue de Rivoli. My view.

Paris0002 Hotel room view.jpg

My dormer window second from left.

Paris0023 View of hotel room.jpg
1969 Paris journey 004.jpg
Gare St. Lazare: there's a Budd in the background.

ParisTrip1969 070k.jpg

Steam:

ParisTrip1969 086k.jpg

For more 1969 steam:

For more Gare St. Lazare:

More to come.
 

Willbridge

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But wait, there's more!
1969 Paris journey 005.jpg
Thursday's coffee was at Cafe Renault, which later was blown up by terrorists.


Paris0038 Pont de Bir-Hakeim.JPG
The red car was First Class. French railfans like the sound in my "video-ization." Listen for the air compressor and the relays stepping through controller notches.



1969 Paris journey 006.jpg

Later, the W. H. Smith English Tea Room was blown up by the I.R.A.

One more pair of pages to come.
 

mcropod

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Many thanks for posting here. I recently saw a British Army film on youtube showing the procedures to reach West Berlin from the Allied (likely British) Sector taking that military train - it was a how to educational film about the military procedures involved. There was a companion one about the road trip: reporting in to the Allied checkpoints as well as the Soviet ones; what to do in case of breakdown and so on.

Fascinating times and thankyou for sharing a bit of them :)
 

cirdan

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Thanks for these letters, very interesting. The Paris Metro soundtrack reminds me a bit of riding the old P&W "Strafford" cars on SEPTA's Norristown high speed line with relays in a cabinet behind the motorman, except those relays were pneumatic rather than electric.
The Sprague Thompson trains were real legends. They dated to the earliest days of the metro and I think the last ones were not eliminated until the 1980s. A handful survived beyond that as works trains, and besides various individual cars that have found their ways into individual museums, there is one working set on the Paris metro that occasionally runs tours or specials, as well as being available for filming and private hire.
 

UserNameRequired

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"During WWII he was trained for the French Naval Air Force in Iowa City." Oui, that makes perfect geographic sense. :)


The Ottumwa, IA airport just south of Iowa City was also a Naval Air Station during the war, too:
Former President Nixon trained there.
 

Willbridge

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1969 Paris journey 007.jpg
"Flack" was my roommate in Berlin. The "Bremerhaven train" was lightly patronized, but also carried refrigerator cars for the Quartermasters. The one passenger car was, as on this night, a Hospital Train staff car. Rooms were assigned by rank, on a space available basis. In the summer I might not have had a private room.

1969 Paris journey 008.jpg
This letter reflects a period in which there was a lot of publicity about poor French - American relations. Several people questioned whether there might be poor treatment. On this and two subsequent trips (1970 and 71) that was not the case.
 
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cirdan

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Thank you so much for sharing this report that not only tells us much about train travel in that period, some of which has changed beyond recognition and some of which is not too different today. The personal stories that intersperse the narrative bring the situation to life and add a lot of color. I can vividly picture the situations, the excitement as well as the courage involved in exploring foreign countries armed with nothing but your charm, friendliness and good wit .
 
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I have to confess that the two British ladies and the Frenchwoman ahead of me did the counting [of steps]. I just overheard them discussing it and wrote it in my notebook.
"...deux cent vingt-quatre, deux cent vingt-cinq, deux cent vingt-six. C'est tout!"
 
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This letter reflects a period in which there was a lot of publicity about poor French - American relations. Several people questioned whether there might be poor treatment. On this and two subsequent trips (1970 and 71) that was not the case.
Back in the mid 2000s, when the French were in disagreement with us about the invasion of Iraq and many Americans were going on about "freedom fries" and "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," my parents took a trip to France. They reported that they had a very friendly reception from actual French people who didn't seem bothered by the politics.
 

Willbridge

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Thank you so much for sharing this report that not only tells us much about train travel in that period, some of which has changed beyond recognition and some of which is not too different today. The personal stories that intersperse the narrative bring the situation to life and add a lot of color. I can vividly picture the situations, the excitement as well as the courage involved in exploring foreign countries armed with nothing but your charm, friendliness and good wit .
Thank you and Caravanman. I wondered whether this aged well. I also wondered whether younger readers might comment on the typos and poor construction. It was written under pressure of deadline because the typewriter was needed to fight the Cold War. Fortunately, the opposition took the night off. In my last year in Berlin, I bought a German portable typewriter and warned my friends and family that sometimes a "Z" was really a "Y" and vice versa.

One thing omitted is something that I think I've written about before this: the English teacher and I rode out to Orly on the suburban train, which went to the industrial side of the airport, and in doing so had my one ride on "Le Budd" emu's. They were complete with pastel bulkheads. We took a bus around to the terminal and the driveway access looked like Portland International Airport and 90% of the late 50's-early 60's airports. After a bite to eat, we took the official airport<>city bus which started out on a freeway-style ramp and then dumped into city traffic.

Since then, it's been interesting to note how many airport terminals have been built on the opposite side of the field from an existing rail line. Mirabel was just one of many.

Oh, and one other thing that I was armed with: a History B.A. from Lewis & Clark College, a school which is big on international education. That also made me four years older than most low-ranking enlisted men. In a personal letter in the envelope, I found a comment that one of my comrades was proud of having been in Berlin for two years without leaving town.
 
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