Sunday, November 1, 2015

Berowne's 292

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Q" is for "quarrel")
                                                                                               
Welcome to another in the exciting series titled “Berowne’s Mediocre Adventures.”

This week: My participation in the French Revolution.

No, not that one, not the one in the 1700s.  The more recent one, back in 1962.  Didn’t know there was a French Revolution in ’62?  Well, there was, or just about; it got snuffed out at the last minute.  And I was there.

A bit of background.  When WWII ended, there was a general thrust for independence on the part of various geographical possessions throughout the world.  The major powers lost most of their colonies.


France lost Indo-Chine – Vietnam – one of its two most important colonies.  And French leaders were seriously resolved that the other, Algeria, would remain French at all costs.  You see, Algeria was different.  It was not just a colony; it was legally classified an integral part of France.



Yet around 1960 many felt that it was time for Algerian independence.  And the President of France, our old friend Charles de Gaulle, was suspected of getting ready to grant it.

This threatened French political right-wingers. So there was quite a quarrel going on between the right and the left, occasionally a violent quarrel. A group of generals actually formed an army, the OAS, the “Organization of the Secret Army,” to assassinate de Gaulle and take over the country.  They planned a real revolution.
 


They got things boiling by setting off bombs, “plastiques,” planted in cafes and such places throughout the country.  At the right moment, with the President killed, thousands of OAS paratroopers would drop from the sky and take over all governmental agencies.

France would cease being a republique and would become a military dictatorship.



It was in 1962 that young Berowne, somewhat ignorant of the above, showed up to shoot a film to be titled “One Man’s Paris.”

I thought it odd that folks in the city were constantly looking skyward, and that there was a lot of talk about “plastiques.”

I had gone to a place to rent a battery for my camera.  All they had was a really ancient one; I think it must have been one of the first professional motion-picture batteries ever built.  It was an unsightly wooden, clumsily put-together item, about the size of a shoe box, with wires for the camera connection.

One day after a morning’s work, I stopped in a café and took a coffee break.  I was getting used to French coffee – though that takes time, believe me.  I placed my ragged-looking camera battery under one of the tables and…

Suddenly the patron rushed in and shouted, “Plastique!” and the whole joint, all the customers, rushed full tilt out the front door.

As I sat there, pondering over this development, a couple of gendarmes ran in and escorted me out of the place too.  How they could have thought that crummy-looking wooden shoe box was plastique was beyond me, but I guess they were taking no chances.

Anyway, I convinced them the device was a camera battery and that I was a de Gaulle supporter from way back.

Speaking of whom, the OAS later set up an elaborate squad of snipers and machine-gunners at a special intersection to get the Prez as he rode by.  His car was riddled by bullets, but Citroen had provided a special vehicle and neither de Gaulle or his wife were hit.
  


With the President still alive and well, the Second French Revolution just sort of fizzled out.






  

22 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

Fascinating stuff! I do remember (vaguely - I was 9) the disturbances of 1962.

Kathe W. said...

wow- I do not remember that, but then I was barely married, already pregnant and working my first real job. Thanks for the history lesson! Cheers!

Bekkie Sanchez said...

Wow! What an experience! Lucky they didn't shoot first and ask questions later! Your story reminds me somewhat of the boy who had made his clock for school (Muslim) and they thought it was a bomb when he took it to class.

I like to read your stories I like the way your mind works.

Berowne said...

I like the way your comments work...

naturgesetz said...

That's quite an interesting story. I knew there was a lot of controversy in France and Algeria over independence, but I had forgotten that there was an actual assassination attempt.

brudberg said...

Ah.. what an experience... the way the world might have turned...

Old Egg said...

French police (gendarmes) do tend to be a bit touchy don't they? 5 years earlier in 1957 on our honeymoon we were strolling up the Boulevard St. Michel after a pleasant dinner when we were surrounded by a mob of protesting students from the nearby Uni. They were being pursued by a gendarmes and we couldn't extricate ourselves from the cordon. It was only my bad french that finally persuaded them that we really were innocent honeymooners and we were finally let go! We escaped down the metro and when recovered came to the surface again a few stations away!

Keiths Ramblings said...

I worked for Citroen for 26 years and we were always proud of the de Gaulle connection and the fact that bursting tyres made no difference to the car's ability to continue at speed thanks to it's hydropneumatic suspension. Blimey, you've started me off on my pet subject - sorry!

Visit Keith's Ramblings!

Berowne said...

I rented several DS cars; that suspension was fascinating. Does that still exist in France?

Gail said...

I enjoy your history tales. There is so much I don't know.

Thanks for visiting. I was wanting to write badly to use that prompt...but I pulled it off. Should have trashed it, too.

Helen said...

Similar to Kathe, in 1962 I was a young mother with three little ones ~~ woefully ignorant of world and political affairs. You post is fascinating!

Berowne said...

As is your comment, Helen. Thanks.

Melody Steenkamp said...

Beeing born late in 62 ... i have not been part of it, nore knew about it ;-)


Have a nice abc-day/-week
♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

carol l mckenna said...

Fascinating historical post and photos for Q

Happy Week to you,
artmusedog and carol

Hildred said...

De Gaulle was not my favourite character but glad he escaped the French revolutionists. There were a lot of things going on in 1962 - we were in reach of long range missiles, should they be fired from Cuba, and I was expecting our last child, - but there, that's a different story. My husband and I got caught in a protest march in Lille, after arriving off the Chunnel and I must say the police were kind and extricated us.

Tess Kincaid said...

Fascinating as always Mr. B...

Reader Wil said...

I am embarrassed that I don't remember this at all. I was married at the time and not very interested in politics. I am grateful that the Gaulle could prevent the creation. of a military dictatorship. Great story Berowne! Thanks.
Wil, ABCW Team.

Jae Rose said...

I like your quizzes Berowne - though can rarely solve them - good to have a puzzle reprieve and a fine slice of history as only you do ;)

Janis said...

Great story I enjoy reading history as people lived through it in their own words. I could just picture the cafe clearing out leaving you bewildered by their flight!

Sheilagh Lee said...

Great story Browne "Vive le Québec libre!" "Long live free Quebec!" was ushered by that man. Charles DeGualle was not a favorite here in Canada accept to separatists but no one here wanted him dead.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Wowza! That was a one-of-a-kind experience.
The View from the Top of the Ladder

beat aout the book said...

Oho that was one bit of history I was completely unaware about. You tell a tale well. Thank you.

 
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