This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
We were not a very musical family. In Rambouillet, where we lived until 1957, we had no sound devices and nobody played a musical instrument.
In Saint-Ouen, Paul, my father, bought an "électrophone" (record player), that is a device that combines a turn-table, an amplifier and a loudspeaker in a kind of suitcase. It looked like the picture above.
It could play records in three speeds: 78 rpm, 45 rpm and 33 rpm.
Paul was not interested in popular music, but only in classical music, not too recent. For example Tchaikovsky, but Igor Stravinsky was a little too "modern" for him.
He started to buy records at the "Marché aux puces" of Saint-Ouen (which is believed to be at the origin of the name "Flee Market") . There were mostly 78 and 33 rpm records, as 45 rpm records were mostly for popular music and that did not interest him.
We were not allowed to use the record player ourself. He was the only one that would operate it. And when he was listening to his records, nobody was allowed to talk or to make any noise. If you did, you were asked to leave the living room immediately.
As we had no money, we could not buy any record. However, my brother Bruno, I don't know how, got possession of a 45 rpm of Claude François with two songs: "Belles! Belles! Belles!" and "Ma Vénus en blue-jeans". And, of course, when our father was not there, we would sneak in the living room and play the record multiple times in a row.
We did not go to the movie theater often. Paul was extremely picky for movies. He was subscribing to the daily newspaper Le Figaro and read the movie critic section. From time to time, he would decide that a movie was worth watching. I remember that one day, when I was a teenager, he invited me to go watch "Mort à Venise" (Death in Venice).
Every year, the chaplaincy of the Lycée Honoré de Balzac organized every year a gathering in a large movie theater. I remember that one year, the movie was Ben-Hur. Because I had drunk too much water and I have a "short pipe", I had to go to the washroom in the middle of the movie, and I missed half of the chariot race!
Probably the first movie I watch was a short time after we arrived in Saint-Ouen with Marie, my mother, and my brothers Philippe and Bruno. The movie was a short one: "Le Ballon Rouge" (The Red Balloon). It won the oscar for best original screenplay in 1956.
It is available on YouTube:
In 2000, an other funny movie was made: The Revenge of the Red Balloon. This one is also available on YouTube.