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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Monday, April 24, 2006

KS - Christmas 1961

9- The letter of 9 January 1962 also told that the Christmas of 1961 was shared with a young friend and her extended family, it seems that there were ten of us. First, we all went to a movie in downtown Paris – I can’t remember if it was in French with English subtitles or vise-versa. We then went back to one of their houses for a huge meal.

It turned out to be an affair of several courses, but being a very naïve young man, I didn’t have a clue about this and really chowed down. Then, to my surprise, they cleaned off the table and brought out another course. As the additional courses of fine food came along I was running very short on stomach space, nearly to the point of explosiveness. Even in view of this, I did manage to finish the meal without offending the family.

The French always drink wine with their meals – about like Southerners drink sweet iced tea – and they were just short of insulted because I didn’t drink any more wine than I did – I would have preferred the tea. It wasn’t that I held a particular moral stand against wine; I just didn’t like the taste. By this time, most of the things that I had been taught to be morally wrong had been trespassed against anyway.

After we had stuffed ourselves to the gills and were all about two and a half sheets to the wind, everybody piled into one of their cars and joyously (it was Christmas) transported me back to my barracks. The letter states that the young lady involved was much too serious and about a week later we parted ways. Much later I was able to see the hand of God in the split, even though I regretted the hurtful way it came about – back then I was only concerned about staying “free” until I came back to the states.

Several of the letters in the collection had notes that they were written at work, mostly on the midnight shift. This was a good time to write because our shift maintenance department – one other guy and myself – was not very busy at night. We mostly did routine work or just sat around and waited for something to break down or one of the operators to complain – which they did on a fairly regular basis.

On occasion we would take turns sleeping unless we had a lot of routine stuff to get done before the next shift. We had an air mattress for this purpose and we would place it on top of one of the desks in the back office. Usually the method of waking the sleeper was to simply pull the air plug – that desk got very hard in a hurry.

TBC - ec


Blogger Bonita said...

Yes, quite a shock when you don't realize there are courses to a meal...and I've heard that the French take a lot of time to enjoy a meal.

4/25/2006 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger adannells said...

I took french in high school and I remember a story that my french teacher told us about when she was living in France. The word we usr for full, as in I am too full to eat anymore is their word for pregnant. So one night she had eaten a big meal with her host family and at the end she said she was full using the literal translation. She said everyone went silent and looked shocked. She had no clue what she had just said. Everything got clarified pretty quickly though! :)

4/25/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

bonita - That was a lessn I had to learn the hard way - would have been much better if I had paced myself. and they do eat at a leisurely pace.

adannells - There were a few faux pas mixed in with my French language efforts. Of course they had slang phrases just like us. ec

4/25/2006 10:15:00 PM  

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