This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
New School in Saint-Ouen: École Émile Zola
We move from Rambouillet to Saint-ouen in April 1957, during the Easter break (vacances de Pâques).
My brother Philippe was already in high school in 6ème (grade 6) in Rambouillet, and he stayed for the rest of the school year, living with the family of the principal of École Notre-Dame. Philippe came to Saint-Ouen at the end of the school year. As he failed the examination for grade 5 in public schools, he had to restart grade 6 in October 1957 in the nearest high school, Lycee Honoré de Balzac, in the XVIIth arrondissement of Paris.
My younger sisters and brothers were too young to go the school.
At this time, the mayor and most of the municipal council were members of the "Parti Communiste Français" (French Communist Party). My father wanted us to go to a private Catholic school, but he soon realized that it was too far to let us go alone. So, Bruno and myself we went to the local primary school, École Émile Zola, which was only 150m from our house, 6 rue Pasteur.
The school had been built in 1880 and was called at this time École de la Gare. Then, the street was named "rue des Épinettes". There is no such street in Saint-Ouen, but there is one in the north of Paris, in the XVIIth arrondissement of Paris. So my theory is that in is the same street that was continuing into Saint-Ouen.
Here is a postal card with a photograph of the school in 1919.
École Émile Zola in 1919
The building has not changed much. Here is how it looks today.
École Émile Zola today
In the middle, the big inscription reads "École Communale", meaning Municipal School.
Under, you can read: "Liberté Égalité Fraternité" (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) which is the national motto of the French Republic.
Above the left door: "Garçons" (Boys), above the right door: "Filles" (Girls). At this time, there were two schools, one for the boys and one for the girls. Nowadays, there is only one school for both boys and girls.
The inscription in blue "École Primaire Émile Zola" (Primary School) has been added recently.
Originally, they put Bruno in "Cours Moyen 1" (grade 4) and myself in "Cours Préparatoire" (grade 3).
However, as I was already reading fluently and was good at math, in less than two days, I was in the same class as Bruno.
I was very young for this class level, and my studies were somewhat perturbed by the move and the change of school. So, in agreement with my parents, in October 1957, I started again grade 4, with the same teacher, Monsieur Chagny.
Mr Chagny was a very good teacher. He was also a core member of the Communist Party. Every Sunday, you could find him selling the newspaper "L'Humanité dimanche" which was the Sunday edition of the official newspaper of the French Communist Party.
Mary, my mother stayed in contact with Mr Chagny. Twenty years later, when I was a Navy Officer, Marie suggested that I should visit Mr Chagny who had retired several years ago. So, I did visit him. He was very happy to see me. From his questions about the world events, I realized that he must have been disappointed with the Communist Party.
Continue to Part 8
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