This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
The Frigate Tourville, in Lorient, Brittany
My second post, after two months of vacation, was on a brand new ship, the Frigate Tourville that was soon ready to start trials at sea, after being built in the naval arsenal of Lorient. I was to spend two years on the Tourville.
So, I went to Lorient with my clunky Citroën DS 19 at the beginning of September 1972. I was to be the "officier de détail", which is the officer in charge of cleanliness and painting on the ship. This is a role that is generally given to the youngest officer of the ship, which I was.
However, as the ship was not yet in active service during my post, the painting was mostly done by the arsenal, and not by the crew of the ship, so not much work for me in this domain.
My first jobs wad to proceed to the acceptance of the different technical rooms, cabins and gangways of the ship. Of course, in the beginning, I had no idea how to do that, so I had to learn from other more experienced officers of the ship. However, after two weeks and twenty acceptances, I was ready to fly solo.
The Tourville did not go to sea before the beginning of 1973, when she started her trials at sea.
In Lorient, during the first year of my stay, I was renting a furnished apartment in town.
A Brand New Car: Renault 12 Gordini
In November, I learned that my brand new Renault 12 Gordini was ready to be delivered at the dealership, not far from the Abbey, our family house. So, one week end, I went to the dealership and got my brand new car. I left the DS 19 at the Abbey.
Renault 12 Gordini
This is the Gordini version of a popular French family car, the Renault 12.
Amédée Gordini was an Italian-born race car driver and sports car manufacturer in France. He had merged his company with Renault Sport Technologies. The most famous of the Gordini versions of Renault cars was the Renault 8 Gordini, a rear wheel drive.
The Renault 12 Gordini was a front wheel drive, able to go up to 185 km/h (115 mph). There were no general speed limit on roads in France at this time, and I was young enough and foolish to go at maximum speed on straight roads.
In 1973, a general speed limit of 90 km/h (56 mph) was established in France, but only on main roads. There was no speed limit on secondary roads. So, to go at high speed, I would go on secondary roads, and obviously, it was a lot more dangerous.
The seats were extremely basic and not comfortable at all. So, I bought for myself a bucket seat similar to this one below.
When it was cold, starting the engine was often a problem. I had quickly discovered that you should NEVER use the choke: you were sure to flood the engine.
Even without the choke, i was sometimes flooding the engine. The procedure then was to remove the sparkling plugs, put them in the oven for 10 minutes, put them back quickly so that they had no time to cool and start the engine.
Sometimes, I had to do this procedure twice.
I kept the R12 for three years. In 1975, there was no longer any reason for me to have a fast car, as the general speed limit had been extended to all roads in France.
The astute reader may have noticed that so far I have not talked about girls. I was a good Catholic boy, and I was not supposed to have sex before marriage. Also, as a teenager and a young man, I was extremely shy in the presence of women. I was 23 years old and still a virgin.
This was going to change in 1974.
Continue to Part 44
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Part 17 - Part 18 - Part 19 - Part 20 - Part 21 - Part 22 - Part 23 - Part 24
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Part 33 - Part 34 - Part 35 - Part 36 - Part 37 - Part 38 - Part 39 - Part 40
Part 41 - Part 42