Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Floor Show Is No Extra Charge!

TUESDAY, 8/30:

There is a drunken guy standing underneath our hotel room window, singing quite loudly and dancing quite poorly.

This guy, in fact—

And on that note, greetings from Strasbourg, France, where every street corner has its own entertainment!

Strasbourg is an okay place, although after the little piece of heaven last night known as Colmar, almost any place would suffer in comparison, especially a place with more than its fair share of street drunks and smokers.  It is another pretty old city, though—

With, I must admit, one of the most impressive pieces of sandstone architecture I’ve ever laid eyes upon.  You know how we think the sandstone churches in Marquette are impressive?  Well, how ‘bout this one—

Believe it or not, the cathedral here is almost 400 feet tall (I couldn’t even get it all in the picture) with an exterior constructed of nothing but sandstone.  The detail and the artistry in some of the sculptures on the walls are amazing; the inside of the building ain’t too shabby, either.

It almost makes up for the drunken guy (who, by the way, was just told to leave by the cops after trying to get a little too friendly with some young women walking past).

Today was the last day we were scheduled to follow in the footsteps of some of Loraine’s guys.  The first was this young man—

Republic’s George Ritola, who was with the 290th Engineer Combat Battalion, came into France on New Year’s Eve 1944, and then endured three weeks of driving snowstorms and brutally cold temperatures in the Vosges Mountains before being killed on January 23rd, 1945.  We found the mountain where we died, and I’m guessing it looked a little better this morning than it did on that wicked January day—

In all the trips we’ve made over here, I find it ironic that many places where massive destruction and brutality occurred are now some of the most peaceful and beautiful locations in Europe.

Ironic, indeed.

Following that, we zipped through more mountain passes to end up at this crossroads—

The crossroads themselves are nothing to write home (or a blog) about, but the crossroads in the picture are where this man—

Marquette’s Donald Young, died while trying to move into a nearby river valley on October 22nd, 1944.  What’s really sad about Young’s story is that his brother-in-law, Nels Hume, had been killed a few months earlier in Italy, while his brother, John, died on Okinawa a few months later.  There were a couple of Marquette and Alger County families that lost two members during World War II; the Young family was the only one who lost three.

Now, here’s today’s moment to make you go “Hmmmm”.  Our next stop was the Epinal American WWII Cemetery, where Loraine had arranged to have the graves of three local men sanded, so we could take pictures of them.  They were, and we did, and received quite a shock when we got to the grave of Negaunee’s Joseph Thomas and saw this--

In a cemetery of over 5,000 graves, his was the only that had flowers placed on it.  We checked, and they had been placed on the grave by special order a week ago from someone in the United States,  At this point, we don’t know who that person was; as far as Loraine knows, Thomas doesn’t have any immediate family still around.  So this is a mystery that deserves a little investigation, an investigation that the cemetery staff is helping Loraine carry out.

Updates as they become available!

Finally, we did a lot of driving today, and as always, I noticed a few strange things.  The first, which I didn’t get a picture of, was a Wild West theme park out in the middle of Nowhere, France, complete with a cowboy-themed roller coaster.  Yes, a wild west theme park in the middle of France, where you’d expect, I dunno, a Camembert and Champagne theme park, instead.

(Actually...do you even serve Camembert and Champagne together, or is that a gross violation of one of the natural laws of cuisine?  Let me know!)

Finally, here’s something I DID get a picture of—

It was an ad on the back door of a trailer truck.  I don’t know if the truck was hauling a bunch of Vegas showgirls, or if someone was merely renting out some available space, but it goes to show...you never know what you’ll see in France!

Sadly, we’re leaving the country tomorrow, to spend the rest of our stay in Germany and Austria.  Au revoir, France. We’ll see you soon.

Hopefully, though, without the loud drunk people underneath our window!

(jim@wmqt.com), who must make note of the fact that as I’m uploading this blog, an Oompah band has replaced the loud drunks.  In fact, they're currently playing a Russian-themed version of the theme from "The Godfather".  Once again, only in France!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Jim, your stories are wonderful. Keep them coming! Thanks for the virtual vacation!
    Kate M.