We bought some old letters at Les Puces, a big flea market in Paris. I bought this one because I liked the seal, but realized when I got home that it's dated Year 9, 12 Prairiale which is June 1, 1801 on the French Revolution Calendar, raising the cool factor of my find. Also, the word "Egalite" which, as you know, is from the Revolution banner phrase, means "Equality," is in the address. It seems to be written by a woman named Burthin, which I'd love to think is Rose Bertin, Marie Antoinette's seamstress. So close, yet so far away. Micah's boyfriend is, conveniently, a French teacher (a teacher of the French language, that is), my friend Danielle is a native French speaker, and my cousin Nathalie lives in Versailles and is fluent in French. Hopes are high for a translation. Preferably one proving that I've hit the jackpot. Not that I could sell my little letter with the broken seal.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Words that appear to be "amor," on the third line; "contracte des engagement," on lines five/six; "Mon intention" on the seventh are familar, as well as the sprinklings of vous, de, que, c'est, un throughout. My favorite is the first word, "Citoyen," which is "Citizen," the salution with which the French had to address each other during the Revolution and slightly beyond. It is signed "femme," indicating it was written by a female. That's about all I can figure out. Anyone else want to give it a shot?
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Pictured: Michael, Fontaine (reflected in mirror,) and Buck.
Michael and I have been trying to put together a trip to Mobile for many months. We wanted to visit the town in which our parents had grown up and, later, spent their retirement years, so we could talk family history with relatives, take some pictures, revisit the past. We were on the verge of finally getting it together and I texted my cousin, Fontaine, and told her we'd arrive on a certain date. The plan developed a kink and we put the trip on hold but, because I'm old and forgetful, I completely forgot I'd texted Fontaine and, so, didn't tell her we weren't going to arrive on said date. In early June, the day after my summer break began, said date arrived and I got an urgent call from Michael, telling me that our Great-Aunt Annette and Great-Uncle Buck had driven down from South Carolina to meet us in Mobile. They were with other relatives, waiting for us to arrive at the airport. After the initial shock wore off, Michael jumped on a plane in Virginia to fly to Alabama. I jumped in my car in Texas and to make the familiar drive down I10. I was secretly thrilled that my bad memory put us in this awkward position because, if not, we may not have made the trip for years. Because we couldn't make it to Mobile at a decent hour, we decided to meet in New Orleans
We visited The Visitation, the convent where my mother attended high school. Here's Michael, entering the chapel doors that our mother passed through many times as a young woman. Millie, her classmate and best childhood friend, her "cradle friend," as Millie said, told me that my mother was "the sweet one that calmed us all down." My mother loved The Visitation, kept in touch with the Sisters there and, after moving back to Mobile when my dad retired from the Navy, attended retreats at the convent.