Friday, February 3, 2012

Meet Marie

A World War II hero. Perhaps not one of the heroes we've specifically read about in history books, though I could be wrong about that. Marie left France for England, part of the Free French Forces, after France surrendered to Germany. She trained as a military nurse, then returned to France and served during the Allied Invasion. Later, she received honors, including the Cross, of which she is rightly proud. Marie still has the cross, pinned to her military uniform.










Italian by birth, Marie never felt fully comfortable in France. After the war, she joined her sister, "A real rascal," in California. There she met a really tall and skinny man. "I did not like skinny men, but I felt sorry for him. I asked him, 'would you like some food?'" Eventually one thing led to another.

She continued working as a nurse, and retired from The Huntington Hospital. Marie has lived in the recent decades, the past five or so, high on a hill in South Pasadena. Her tall skinny husband died some years ago, but she stays close to and proud of her children and grandchildren.

Walk around your town, folks. History books are all well and good, but there's nothing like meeting the real thing. (It helps if the proper tour guide is available.)

35 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

You are so right.. Her past life sounds very interesting .. I bet she's a hit on Grandparents Day at her grandchild's school...I loved it when the grandparents would show up and the kids would introduce them and they would tell a little about themselves..

Margaret said...

I was lucky enough to meet her too. What a treasure. I hope her grandchildren appreciate her. Her hearing was not so good due to a bomb blowing up very near her. Yes?

Banjo52 said...

I sure do like this kind of history, but I think I'm not a very good interviewer. Even after such a conversation has begun, I'm not sure which questions are too personal or otherwise unpleasant. And if you don't tiptoe up to the edge of unpleasantness, how interesting will it be?

How did you keep her so unaware (it seems) of the camera?

altadenahiker said...

It was an accidental meeting. We (Margaret, Bellis, and I) trespassed on her property, and it was as though she had been waiting for us. Maybe we met on a morning when she was looking out the window and sorting through some memories.

The photos -- at some point, I just took out the camera and started shooting. It seemed a natural thing to do.

Terri said...

I opened my Google reader. I had a choice between "What's in my makeup travel bag" or Meet Marie. You made me want to really meet Marie. I'd like to reiterate Banjo52's comment. Marie seems oblivious to the camera. Very engaging.

Mister Earl said...

Nice story. I'm guessing this was your "Snake Trail" adventure.

Kaori said...

Love this post. She must have piles of interesting stories to tell her grandkids!

Petrea Burchard said...

She's great, this is great. I know Pasadena Heritage is doing a living history project--whaddayacallit?--people recording their stories. It would be nice to get her to record hers for them.

Ms M said...

What a wonderful post! Her story, your photos. I hope her stories are recorded or written down.

Bellis said...

What a lovely lady, she must be in her nineties. She was so generous to invite us back on her car porch to look at the view, when we thought she was coming out to ask us why we were trespassing. She enjoyed having some company,and we didn't have to prompt her to reminisce. She's lived with that terrific view over Pasadena, Eagle Rock and Altadena for 50 years and has seen many changes, like the tall buildings along Colorado Boulevard.

Desiree said...

A delightful story!
Hmmm, I wonder if Lee Child had her in mind when he created Jack Reacher's back story.

Susan Campisi said...

What an interesting life. It's so great she shared her story with you. Such a gift. The photos are wonderful too.

Birdman said...

What stories her heart must hold.

Paula said...

I think Marie would be a natural for StoryCorps:

http://storycorps.org/

But, about the backstory. Were you guys doing some guerilla pic-a-nicing again?

sonia a. mascaro said...

So precious to know such a remarkable lady! What a privilege
to meet Marie, a World War II hero.
You took very expressive photos.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Oh what a gem!

altadenahiker said...

No, no picnic this time. Just a walk in the hills and borrowing someone's porch to admire the view. Marie came out to join us. At some point she apologized because she was hard of hearing. "It was the bomb," she said. So we asked some questions and she told us her story.

I loved watching her face; as you can tell, she was very expressive.

Mister Earl said...

Then she said you guys were the bomb!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

You may have caught her expressiveness, but from the direction she's looking in, I think Bellis is bringing it out.

or the pups

alex said...

she is the bomb.

what a life she's lived. in a sense, everyone does have a story, if we give the time to listen.

Katie said...

I think something obviously led you to Marie so you could share her story and your delightful photos with us. What an amazing life! I hope someone has recorded her stories. Any chance you could re-trespass and bring a tape recorder?

Shell Sherree said...

I'm glad she's still able to live at home. And it looks like she thoroughly enjoyed your trespassing adventures. Those candid photos are special.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

So, you three are a kind of Clockwork Orange kind of gang...only with real oranges.

altadenahiker said...

Not oranges, but macarons. Or that's what I plan to bring her sometime this month.

You guys are right about recording her stories -- how many who took an active part in WW2 are still with us? Unfortunately, my trusty Radio Shack tape player recorded one two many interviews and had a nervous breakdown just last month.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

For very little you'll get a lot, Hiker.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Portable-Digital-Recorders/ci/14934/N/4291085915

I spent more on the Alesis than 29 bucks and I love it. The picture is wank but the sound is fab. Highly recommend!

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

Alesis made by Teac, Montebello, CA

Carolynn said...

It is interesting the stories we all have to tell. Some of the seniors tell the best ones.

Latino Heritage said...

Thanks for sharing her story. And I love her face, her beautiful wizened visage. Happy the images have a grand informal feel to them. Helps the viewer feel like they were there.
Oral histories are great, but any snippet we can catch helps tell a better history.
As far as the interviewing goes - it is often better to get to know the person to be interviewed a little, to tread lightly, and then go back and ask questions that might seem to be sensitive. Often the questioner has to become comfortable as much as the person being asked the question.

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

A wonderful story, Karin. You can't help but feel that people of Marie's era were made of sterner stuff.

altadenahiker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
altadenahiker said...

PI and LH, good advice which I always take from both of you.

Terry, not only that, I shook hands with her when we left and she had a grip that could crack walnuts. I kid you not.

TheChieftess said...

They don't call the WWII Generation the "Greatest Generation" for nothing!!!
I agree with Terry Blue...they were made of much sterner stuff.

Marjie said...

My house used to be on the "Local History" walking tour that the 3rd graders in our town's elementary school went on. My kids were proud to lead their friends around my yard. The house on the corner of my street has been occupied by the same family since before the "Great Fire" around 1910. The old lady across the street when we moved in told us about life here around 1910 to 1920. It was wonderful. History can be dull, until it's made local and personal, and connected to far away events.

camissonia said...

With that glint in her eye, you just know that Marie will be the consummate storyteller. She and my dad are probably the same age and there just aren't many of them left from that generation anymore to hear such fascinating first hand accounts of a bygone era. A moment to treasure.

dbdubya said...

I love the twinkle in her eye - just a little mischievousness in there. I would have enjoyed hearing her stories. Most WWII veterans are humble. I used to work for someone who was a pilot in the Pacific. He got shot down and spent a couple of days in a life raft before being rescued. He acted like it was no big deal. George is now 95 and still a dear friend.