This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
I was born in 1949, on October 31st. Oh! you will think, you were born the day of Halloween! Well, not really, because in France at this time, nobody knew about Halloween. In fact, I learned about Halloween for the first time in 1979, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
When my parent got married in 1946, they lived initially with my maternal grandparents in the XVIth arrondissement of Paris. For her first child, my mother, Marie, was sent by her doctor to the maternity of the "Hospital of the Deaconesses of Reuilly" in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. The "Deaconesses of Reuilly" is a religious protestant community founded in 1841. The hospital was started in 1843 and the maternity in 1926.
The Hospital of the Deaconesses, today
So, my elder brother Philippe was born at the deaconesses' hospital in September 1947. At this time, after delivery, a mother would stay for a week at the maternity. Marie was so happy with the way the deaconesses took care of her, that she came back to their hospital for the birth of my second brother Bruno in November 1948 and for my own birth in October 1949, even though my parents no longer lived in Paris.
In 1948, my parents, Paul and Marie, rented a big house in Rambouillet, 50 km from Paris.
Our House in Rambouillet
(source: Google Maps Street View)
They had decided to rent such a big house, because like their parents they had decided to have many children: my paternal grandparents had 11 children and my maternal grand parents had 10. My parents will have 11 children.
The house had three levels and probably a basement where I believe I have never gone.
There were two external doors: the front door facing the street and the back door in the kitchen.
On the ground level, we would find the kitchen, the dining room, a small living room (rarely used), my father's office, a bathroom and a toilet.
In France, at least at this time, the toilet was never in the bathroom, but always separated in a small room called "un cabinet de toilette". In the bathroom, there was a bathtub (but no shower) and a washing machine with a roller wringer.
Washer with a roller wringer
Of course, there was no dryer and the laundry was put on a clothesline in a small building in the back of the house.
My father's office was quite dark and I remember that I was a little afraid to go there.
On the first floor, there were four bedrooms and a toilet. I don't remember that there was a bathroom on the first floor.
And, on the second floor, there were several rooms. One or two of these rooms were sublet by a Miss Baert that we rarely saw.
Continue to Part 2
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