Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Paris Journal, Part 5 (November, 1955) Regular letters resume tomorrow

Two things I found of special interest—one were the gargoyles. Lord, they’re fantastic. Whoever possibly dreamed them up must have been suffering from an advanced stage of Delirium Tremens. The other is not to be found in most travelogues or books; over the main altar, far in the back of the church where it was so dark you could hardly see, hang cardinals’ hats. They are on very long strings suspended from the ceiling far above, & are placed there upon the death of a cardinal. There they hang. But, should one of them fall down of its own accord, it’s not put up again. Currently there are nine or so.

The entire cathedral is surrounded by & covered with statues, spires, buttresses, flying buttresses, & what have you. But with all this, it somehow doesn’t look cluttered.

I was also quite disappointed to find Quaisimodo had never run about among the gargoyles, or saved a fair maiden from an angry mob storming the cathedral by pouring molten lead on them.
Undated insert between pages 10 & 11 of handwritten journal

Dear Folks—

Quick note department—enclosed find one more page of the Paris journal—I’d better finish it soon or I’ll forget it.

Fresh milk today—how wonderful. Buy a cow. Got a large box of cookies from Ann Margason.
Journal continues

I’ll never forget the end of that movie; Quaisimodo, with his arm around a gargoyle no uglier than himself, watching the so-called heroine ride away with her prince charming. That one scene always struck me as being a rare glimpse of the beauty that lives within the human soul, which shows itself now & again despite all we may do to hide it.

Somewhere between the time we left the busses & the time we left the cathedral, the girls left us.

One of the officers, in civilian clothes, was wearing a sporting cap similar to those that were the rage in America in the late twenties. They are currently considered fashionable in Europe. Not only did he wear it, but he wore it backward. When he was getting on the bus, Leonard, a Mess Deck MAA also on the tour, looked at him, grinned, & said "Hi, cat!" The look he got could have melted the tires.

The Eiffel Tower looks like a huge erector set. It also looks old. And dirty. It’s painted brown, which from a distance looks like rust. Since there is only one Eiffel Tower—what use anyone could possibly find for another I can’t guess—there is nothing to compare it with. It looks largest when standing directly under it; then it is gigantic. It was built for an 1898 (?) world’s fair, in spite of people’s skeptic opinions that it would never get off the ground (it didn’t).

The bus couldn’t get within two blocks of it, so we had to be satisfied with gazing from a distance. Naturally, through the whole tour, my camera was going as much as speed & weather would permit. Bob took a picture of Jim, Roge & I with the tower in the background, which incidentally turned out quite well.

Postcard postmarked "U.S.S. Ticonderoga, CVA 14, Nov. 29, 1955, 9 a.m. Subject: The Rock of Gibraltar from it’s airfield.

Dear Folks
Bet you can’t guess where I was. Ah, no fair—you peeked. Many long letters coming of my expeditions. Took some film on my new camera & hope & pray it only turns out the way I took them. Don’t think I’ll send them home—it’ll be more fun when I can be there to explain them. Thanks for the cards


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