Since mid-August we have started seeing wooden crosses appearing around the village of Haraucourt. There must be about 40 of them now. Each one has got a first name, a family name, an age and a date of death painted on it. One cross per soldier killed on the territory of Haraucourt at the beginning of WW1 during the Battle of Grand Couronné.
When I studied WW1 in the 1970s, we didn't mention this battle but the whole war, step by step, and I found it difficult, too many names, too many places, too many dates. Then, later, I noticed people younger than me were not interested any more, hardly knowing the 11th of November 1918 is the end of WW1. Even trips to Verdun could not ignite a spark of interest.
So how was it possible to make people be involved in the commemoration of the beginning of WW1?
These wooden crosses are a good answer. The idea is already in our mind, one cross near a road means one death, we see them where accidents have happened. And the name, age and flag make people react. One man we know has said he "had to stop to read". Young people have explained they are shocked by reading the age of the soldiers.
This time, WW1 is not a story in books, it is history in a place people know very well, where they live. They can see it, feel it. It is reality.
I wondered if people would now remember. Yes, they do, and they want to know more.
Harley Davidson motorcycles and American cars were the main parts of the Crazy American weekend in Pont-à-Mousson. By arriving near the parking place, we could already hear and see Harley Davidson bikers, all dressed in black, of course.
We looked at some motorcycles near the entrance and by walking a bit further away, I noticed a group of people wearing the Rats d'Egouts (Sewers Rats) jackets. This bikers' club has been in Toul for more than 30 years and my husband used to meet them in the 1980s. We stopped and started chatting with them, speaking about old friends. I couldn't help thinking "Harley biker one day, Harley biker always".
Then we discovered all these Harley Davidson machines, more or less comfortable, more or less powerful. Some were so big, with plenty of travel paks, saddle bags, and plenty of chrome. The noise of the engine is so typical, compared to Japanese, German or Italian motorcycles.
I think that one likes Harley Davidson or doesn't like Harley Davidson. You can't be indifferent. About thirty years ago I would have said it was too impressing and a world too different for me. Nowadays I quite like it.
It was a really good idea to go to Pont-à-Mousson to enjoy the Crazy American Weekend. We saw it was successful when we left Place Duroc to drive to Ile d'Esch, there were plenty of cars waiting for a parking place and turning around. We managed to find a small street where nobody was going (I still wonder why).
When we arrived on the island, it was surprising to discover so many American cars together. Their owners were standing or sitting near them and all proud of their vehicles.
I thought about a recent comment I have read about driving in Pont-à-Mousson with one of these cars. It is impossible to turn in some streets. Too long, too wide for these narrow ways. But they look so comfortable. One driver explained that they use an insurance for classic cars, not to have to change things to bring them into compliance with standards, but it means they are only allowed to drive in Meurthe-et-Moselle and the départements having a limit with it.
The one which I found more impressing was the Oldsmobile 98 and my favourites were the Mustang and Corvette.
I took plenty of pictures so you can also enjoy the show.
The Musée du Textile of Val-et-Châtillon was created about fifteen years ago by people who have worked in this factory before it stopped in 1978. As my mother has been employed by the other factory making fabric which was nearby, I felt like having to know more about the jobs of all these people.
Our guide gave us all the information from the arrival of cotton bales from America, Russia or Africa to the sale of fabric for clothing industry. It was not only a tour amongst machines, but also explanations in front of machines working (and sometimes being quite noisy).
Before going to this museum I didn't imagine how many times were necessary to transform a bit of cotton into a thread. And then it was impressing to see how skilful and strong workers must be to deal with the machines and also to discover that they must have a very good eyesight. They must either check the shuttle is not empty, or the thread is at the right place, or there is no flaw in the fabric. Workers of the factory were paid piece rate and, if any flaw in the fabric, money was taken from their wages.
Guides of the museum love the place, they are ready to answer any question, showing all the tasks. I heard all the words my mother uses to speak about her job and now I understand exactly what it means.
For sure, it was not easy every day.
The inside of Ferme Duval in Vaudémont is full wit old things which remind us our youth and also the old times. In one corner of a barn, we saw nearly all that is necessary to make wine (barrels, grape picking basket and a sort of big vat that we call foudre).
Nowadays people only speak about wines of Lorraine by mentioning Toul and sometimes Moselle, but the region had plenty of vineyards till the beginning of the 20th century when phylloxera arrived. After this, a lot of people lost their job, their money and the ones keeping vineyards only grew them to make their wine, not to sell it.
In the area between Nancy and Lunéville, till about 40 years ago, families had their own small vineyards. As a child, I enjoyed picking grapes by hand, spending the whole day outside, then looking at men pressing grapes and all children liked a glass of vin doux, the first pressed juice, even if our stomach was protesting afterwards.
Grape harvest time was also the opportunity to be together, families and friends, to have lunch in the vineyards sitting on bales of straw and to laugh during dinner when men were having wine of the year before and were singing and joking. One day was given for each family and then people helped another one.
When seeing the barrels and basket in Vaudémont, I remembered all the laughs and men calling each other from one place to another on the hill of my village, sometimes in the fog, sometimes in the rain, but nobody complained in spite of leaves sticking to our hands, mud to our shoes. It was hard work but with such a good atmosphere.