This afternoon we leave with 30 or so other members of the Manassas Chorale to join about 80 other choral singers in Germany and France for a week of touring and concerts. We will do concerts in Kaiserslautern and Heidelberg and then travel to the American Cemetery in Lorraine where we will sing, and on to Paris for a little sightseeing and then to the American Cemetery in Normandy for a concert on July 4. We return on July 5.
I was thinking about the last time I was in France, about 45 years ago. I was part of a semester abroad program which consisted of six weeks’ language training in Tours, France, and the rest of the time in Paris. The thirty or so of us in the program were on our own to find our housing and meals. All we had to do was to attend a seminar each week hosted by a professor on sabbatical and write a paper (in French). I later became good friends with the professor who had limited vision so that he had to have everything read to him. I was one of his readers when we returned to the U.S. He was also a dyed-in-the-wool Marxist who could see a conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in Little Red Riding Hood. After a while we made fun of him. When he asked what a story was about, someone would say, “The conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat” and we would all chortle. That was a sign of our immaturity. He was an brilliant and kind man. When I read to him he would ask me what I thought a passage meant. One time I said, “It’s about the conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.” He looked down and said, “Cut the bullsh*t and tell me what you think.” After that I did. I learned a great deal from him–our reading sessions were more like tutorials.
Anyhow, near the end of August, 1966, I found myself on board an Air France Boeing 707, the Chateau de Chenonceau. It was my first airplane flight and it was a good one. I still have the menu for the meal here some place. No doubt I’ll find it some day.
Going back to France makes me think of all the changes that have occurred in the past 45 years. I finished two degrees, bought three houses (not all at once), got married, taught school for 32 years, helped raise two children. Not a bad life, that.
I’ll be interested to see how much Europe has changed. I know I’ve lost a lot of my French, but we’ll see. When I was in Paris there were about eight Metro lines. Today there are about sixteen with four express lines running through the city. And you know? I can hardly wait to get back. I’ll try to update this every daya nd let you know how it is going. Au revoir for now.