Monday, July 11, 2011

European Vacation, Part 6--My homeland

Post-war housing, with flowers!
Roundabout at the entrance to town
Wednesday, May 11–We leave early in the morning to seek out the village in Alsace-Lorraine that Nicholas Farmerie left in 1824 to come to Pittsburgh–he’s my great-great-great grandfather. As borders changed, Behrens-les-Forbach and the surrounding was sometimes French (present day) and sometimes German (in 1824) and is now a suburb of Forbach. We did not stop at the Mayoral office to look for records because it became evident to us that the area had been heavily bombed (leveled to the ground) during WWII. Both France and Germany wanted this coal-rich area to support their industrial return. We found only a few graves in the cemetary that predated the war, and the vast majority of names were neither French nor German, but seemed to belong to the influx of Slavic and Italian workers who came to work the mines after the war. Nevertheless, it was interesting to me to see how the village was still surrounded by fields. I wonder where Nicholas lived, and what he’d say if he could see the town now?

St. Blaise church, 1945 awards ceremony
St. Blaise church, rebuilt in 1959

Thursday, May 12–We decided that our last day of vacation should be a relaxing one, so we drove into town and sat on a bench on the river. I knitted on a lace curtain I’d started during the trip–it was so comforting to see all the lace curtains in the Belgian windows, I felt a connection to the Old World. Skip read a book, we watched ducks (one young lady duck had at least 10 suitors swimming around behind her–I guess it was her smile that attracted them), we lunched at a tiny place owned by a friend of our hostess. I have to admit that my last lunch in Belgium was a huge bowl of local ice cream with Belgian chocolate sauce, and a cup of milk coffee.
Bouillon, as seen from the castle

Godfrey's castle, from the town bridge

The view upriver

The view downriver

The beginning of my lace curtain

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