Paris Match: From the Heart of France

Au Revoir but not good-bye! (All images: T. Brack's archives)

Cherish is the word I use to describe (All images: T. Brack’s archives

Flea Market Treasure, Porte de Clignancourt Flea

Flea Market Treasure, Porte de Clignancourt Flea

By Theadora Brack

In celebration of love and remembrance, I’ve decided to share a few classic French “sweetheart” postcards from “La Grande Guerre” (aka La Première Guerre Mondiale, i.e., World War I), along with one of my favorite passages from “The North China Lover” by Marguerite Duras.

To enhance the romance, consider a sweet and sour Sidecar. Invented by head barman Frank Meier (and author of the “Artistry of Mixing Drinks”) at the Ritz during the aforementioned Great War (Harry’s New York Bar devotees, look away!), you grab the cognac and Cointreau while I squeeze the lemon and crack the ice. Then we can take turns shaking vigorously!

Always in fashion is passion, so let’s throw a little Édith Piaf on the Victor-Victrola, “Mon Dieu, Mon Dieu Mon Dieu.” Little Sparrows, I’ve never failed to weep after reading, so pack a hankie. And perhaps a silky embroidered pillow for some sweet swooning?

The Lover

Duras penned: “Years after the war, after marriages, children, divorces, books, he came to Paris with his wife. He phoned her. It’s me. She recognized him at once from the voice.

He said, I just wanted to hear your voice. She said, it’s me, hello.

He was nervous, afraid, as before. His voice suddenly trembled. And with the trembling, suddenly, she heard again the voice of China. He knew she’d begun writing books, he’d heard about it through her mother whom he’d met again in Saigon. And about her younger brother, and he’d been grieved for her.

Souvenir de France, Silk Pillow, WWI, detail

Souvenir de France, Silk Pillow, WWI, detail

 

Then he didn’t know what to say.

And then he told her. Told her that it was as before, that he still loved her, he could never stop loving her, that he’d love her until death.”

O, I feel the love

I highly recommend both the book and the movie, with its haunting soundtrack composed by Gabriel Yared. In fact, I’m listening to it as I tap it out on my Royal Typewriter. On this day, let’s not forget Frank Meier’s neat credo about what makes a great bar truly great. It’s not the drink recipes. It’s not the décor, he said. It’s the people. Straight up! So spread the warmth, I say, like there’s no tomorrow.

Clipping from Edith Piaf again, “Non, je ne regrette rien. Avec mes souvenirs, j’ai allumé le feu.” And she’s right, you know, there’s just no other good sway to say it: With my memories, I light the fire!

Bises! Happy Valentine’s Day.

BRACK Valentine 101

BRACK Valentine 100

BRACK Valentine 505

BRACK Valentine 104

BRACK Valentine 131

BRACK Valentine 130

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68 thoughts on “Paris Match: From the Heart of France

    • Oh. Yes. I had planned to take the post “live” in the morning, but then I got caught up my little “sweetheart postcard” world: editing, tweaking and scanning. Music was playing softly as I typed. The cats were purring. It was a nice day. Sometimes it’s difficult to set stories free! You’ve been there! T. (Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Janet!)

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    • Thanks, Richard! I enjoyed sequencing the postcards. Some of the postcard photographs are also beautiful portraits. Stunning, like your street portraits. I’d really like to learn more about the French WWI Sweetheart series. I’ll keep you posted! T. (Happy Valentine’s Day to you! And enjoy the weekend!)

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  1. Mon chéri Theadora, vous trouvez de nouveau l’amant dans chacun d’entre nous et apportez cette joie moussant aux nos coeurs. Vos photos rappellent à un des jours charmants passés. Saint-Valentin Heureuse à vous. XXXOOO Tin Man

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    • Dear Monsieur Tin Man, thank you for such sweet, sweet words, as always. YES. I tend to live with one kitten heel in the past and one ruby slipper in the present! (while wearing rhinestone incrusted rose-colored cat eyeglasses, of course!) Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Did you create a Feast? Bises, T.

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      • Oh, my dear, for the love……….you must get a pair of those glasses for moi, also………….and for me a cigarette holder…with a few rhinestones..of course.

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  2. Where did you find these vintage postcards? Each one seems to tell a very special story. ~Thea

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    • Thanks, Thea! Yes, I’ve got a mad penchant for collecting vintage postcards and postcard series. They remind me of old black and white, silent movie stills. Plus, there’s also the handwriting on the back of the cards. With each card, I get caught up in the story! T. (I usually find them at flea markets and brocantes. Porte de Vanves and Clignancourt Fleas are two favorite hunting grounds. Here the dealers organize their cards by category)

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      • It sounds like you enjoy the hunt just as much as the purchase! ~Thea

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      • Thea, it’s all about the hunt. I always, always pick a mission before entering a market. I create a list and check it twice, like Santa! T.

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    • I know. I know. They’re so very lovely. I’m sure they were treasured then, caressed and carried in pocketbooks. Please know that I’m taking great care of them now. They are treasures! T.

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    • Thank YOU. My postcard collection keeps growing. It’s difficult to stop. Not that I’m trying. After all, April Fool’s Day is just around the corner! T. (Happy Valentine’s Day to you!)

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    • Merci! Stay tuned for my “Cat” postcards. They’re creeping around the corner! Spring is the perfect time for such a series, eh? T. (Enjoy the weekend!)

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    • Well, thank you! I’ve been enjoying your recent travel essay series. I especially love the one about “community.” YES. I’m very happy to see your work again! T.

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    • Patti, thanks for your swell words! It was great fun to select the postcards for the post. Chemistry and radiance were easy to spot and see. I’m starting to recognize a few of the actors and models. They make re-occurring cameos. As I wrote to Richard, I’d like to learn more about the “Sweetheart” series. Gorgeous. And passionate. Raising glass to you! T. (Enjoy your weekend!)

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  3. What a wonderful tribute and love the postcards! Just came away from a vintage postcard show (Lauder collection) at Boston’s MFA with a renewed respect for the art form. Great post!

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    • Merci! I am green with jealousy. The MFA’s “The Age of the Postcard” looks amazing. Perhaps there’s a catalog? I will investigate. I love the poster image. Gorgeous. According to the museum’s website, the exhibition will stay up through April 14, 2013. (Again, thanks for sharing!)

      Here’s a link: http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/postcard-age

      And the museum’s exhibition blurb:

      In the decades around 1900, postcards were Twitter, e-mail, Flickr, and Facebook, all wrapped into one.

      The Postcard Age” features about 400 cards by a wide variety of artists and publishers from throughout Europe and the Americas. It is arranged not by style or country, but by theme, with sections devoted to, among other things, urban life, the changing role of women, sports, celebrity, new technologies, the stylish collectors’ cards of the art nouveau, and World War I.

      The result is a vivid picture of the cares and concerns of the age and a tempting sampler of the artistic and historical riches found in the Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Archive, the lifetime project of Leonard Lauder and a promised gift to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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  4. How extraordinarily kind of Theadora to share her photographs from the past. One has suspected there was a beautiful Time Machine in your living room, Theadora. Now we have proof positive that you slip back into the past for encounters, liaisons, assignations and trysts. You can’t help bringing back souvenirs from the past. You say you found them in a flea market. We know different. You also bring back the slang of years past – and that is what gives you away. For example, nobody says “swell” any more Theadora. So the various cats are out of the bag. Keep traveling and keep telling us your marvelous stories. A fellow time traveler V.

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    • Heavens to Betsy, Virginia, how did you know? The tortoiseshell cats are out of the bag, indeed. There is a rather handsome (and swell!) time machine in my living room, next to the old Victor-Victrola. Confession: I listen to movie soundtracks as I “compose” my posts. I have a favorite record album for each Paris subject. And I plan it again and again and YET again until I take the post live. It’s now my ritual. My routine. And it works like a charm (and time travel ticket) every time. Don’t tell a soul. I also throw on a little red matte lipstick. My red badge of courage! T. (Do you have any writer tricks up your sleeve?)

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      • Music sets the scene.I cook to Mariza – a little Fado music and Portuguese food. I love Vivaldi when I’m whipping up an Italian Feast. Edith Piaf and I am frying up beignets. The music plays as I write all about it on Mrs. Butterfingers.
        My fav writers trick is to say “what if”. What if Theadora is time traveling. What if I had a house in Paris. What if that man with the smouldering black eyes is really a rabbit called Oswald. What If is almost as good as “once upon a time”. As for the red lipstick. Bravo T. I wear the brightest red lipstick that Mac puts out and I flaunt it. I may be over 75 but darned if I’m going to be ignored. V

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      • Virginia, I love your tricks. Music IS a scene and mood setter. I’ve always been a fan of red lipstick. Blame it on the silver screen movies and Revlon’s “Cherries in the Snow.”. It works well with red hair and freckles. (I tell myself!) It’s tricky to find the perfect shade. I’m currently loyal to Make Up Forever’s matte red. My friend Caroline (and professional hospital clown in France) is mad about “Red Lizard” by Nars. I’ll have to give Mac a shot! T. (Enjoy the week!)

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      • I love Nars for eye make-up. There’s a silver/gray-midnight/tblue called Underworld. (when I want to be a femme fatale) . For a conservative look its Kalhari two bronze shades. Now I’m putting on my ruby slippers and flying off to Sephora to check out Red Lizard T.

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  5. That’s strange…I could have SWORN I wrote a comment yesterday but it’s not here! Guess I dreamed it? Maybe it was that pesky WordPress Ap.
    I love that you suggest a drink pairing with your posts! I was just thinking the other day how I haven’t had a sidecar in ages! (So different from my blog. The wine pairing is so champagne it’s practically the mascot.) As always, your vintage postcards and photos are so nifty! My mind reels upon imagining how large your photo archives must be…when did you start collection them and where do you find them?

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    • Hi Doll, Merci! YES. I guess Marie Antoinette fancied Champagne and fresh milk and cream from the dairy? I wonder what else was on the Versailles beverage menu? Hot chocolate? Don’t you love hot chocolate pots? Have you created a post on royal drinks? I plan to feature Versailles in a few upcoming posts. So stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted. I think you’ll be pleased! T. (I find most of my treasures at the fleas and the brocantes in Paris and other cities and small towns. I’ve been on the hunt for years. I’m hooked. I’m hooked.)

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    • Merci! Edith Piaf is wonderful. I could listen to her day, afternoon and night. And I do! The Edith Piaff Musée is one of my favorite museums in the world. Housed in a tiny flat at 5 rue Crespin du Gast in the 11th arrondissement, the Little Sparrow’s black dresses, shoes, records, and photographs are on display. Edith Piaf records are played during the visit. Very charming! Also, there’s a fun vintage clothing shop around the corner, stocked with little black dresses! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)

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  6. Lovely, Mlle B., so very LOVE-ly! The postcards are the best…and Duras’ short story of a ‘forever and ever’ LOVE did raise a tear! So many tough times and yet, love survives them all! L’amour…toujours!

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  7. What a great post! The photos are amazing and I just love your prose! Here’s to hoping your Valentine’s Day was wonderful and that you got everything your heart desired!

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  8. Late getting to see this, but love and lovers are never out of date. What a charming Valentine’s post, plein de nostalgie et des parfums d’amour! Those lovers, separated but united in a thought — how wonderful are they? Somehow I imagine you, Theadora, in your little black dress, singing Non, je ne regrette rien in a husky voice. Well, perhaps it isn’t husky, but in my imagination —

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