Farming in Thoiry


To listen to this post in French, click below

Newbie farmers
1943 – Thoiry My uncle Victor, his sister, Fanny, Félix, with the fork, Maman and Mémé, and a lady with sunglasses
When browsing through wartime photos, you could get the feeling that they were all having a good time. They’re always smiling and on this particular photo, they’re playing farmers. Even usually unsmiling Mémé managed the flicker of a smile on that photo.
Victor had just escaped from a war prisoner camp and the family ran from occupied zone to shrinking ‘free zone’. They were driven by the fear of the Nazi army, the Gestapo, the French gendarmes and by hunger. Hunger being what made them land on a farm and try to become farmers.
Maman enjoyed telling about their attempt at breeding rabbits; they bought two rabbits, put them together and could not figure out why they fought all the time. It never occured to them that both rabbits were males, until the local (and real) farmer told them so.

7 thoughts on “Farming in Thoiry

  1. Your posting your family pictures and commenting on the events inspired me to do the same on a personal blog. There are so many stories my parents have told me about their lives in Poland and their move to Brazil. It’s nice to be able to record these memories or else they will get forgotten and lost.

  2. Bee, you should definitely have a look at TimeGoesBy by Ronni Bennett, which is the blog that inspired me to blog about my family’s past.
    I think that you should by all means open this new blog and hope you’ll let me know as soon as you start.

  3. Hi Cous’

    Great photo, that! Who took it? Your Pa’?

    See how smiles grow from left to right. And the further right you move the more sunlight you get, and both eyes are “allowed” to be seen.

    Re: smiles.
    Most POWs’ photos I have seen show smiling inmates. Maybe they were just savoring these moments of rest when they didn’t have to pretend they were working for the enemy.

    Re: farming.
    My Pa would jokingly remark: “we didn’t even know how to plant potatoes.” Probably exaggerated 😉

    BTW the story goes that the Germans taught the French how to split potatoes in four so as to harvest more.

    Something else about this photo: it could almost pass as a 19th century painting with the whole family gathered and content after a good hard day’s work, were it not for the somehow “dressed up Parisian” touch.

    Well, despite the pause, and the pose, this is definitely a snapshot dive into the past.



  4. I knew that was a 1940s photo even before I scrolled down to see the date. Except for the 1960s, I don’t think any other decade since the very earliest photographs is so distinctive in the style of the people as the 1940s..

  5. Léo, it’s not exaggerated, I for one, wouldn’t know how to plant or grow potatoes… 😉
    Meg, I hope it’ll help you with your French, LOL
    And Ronni, yes, it is a distinctive photo of the 40s. One funny thing is that it turns out that the lady with sunglasses, who, I thought, gives a Parisian flavour to the photo, is probably the only real farmer in the photo. Don’t trust appearances…

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