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At the back of the photo is written 1956, but I think I must have been at least 13, so I think the real date must be 1957, or maybe 1958.
This photo was taken at the Bar Mitzvah of a childhood friend. I remember being quite envious, because I too would have liked to be showered with presents, but a few sessions at the local synagogue convinced me that religion was definitely not my cup of tea. My Catholic friends who went to confession on Saturdays and racked their brains for sins to confess were not better off, but at least they didn’t have to sit in a separate section of the temple as if they were contagious 😉
I remember quite well the dress I was wearing. Red velvet with a bow my mother had chosen, and which I hated, sitting right in the middle of my bottom, not making it look any thinner. I also remember those red shoes I was wearing. They were my first pair of shoes that looked normal, since in those days, I was still wearing prescription shoes that both felt and looked awful.
On the photo, I am crouching between my uncle Henry and my aunt Fanny who both played central parts in my childhood. They took me to museums, theatres, to the circus, and I spent more than a summer with them and their daughter, R., near Dax. My parents were very busy in those days and as their busiest working season was in September, they were never free to take a holiday in the summer with their children.
Fanny married Henry when I was four years old and both of them were wonderful to their nephews and nieces in general and to me most particularly.
Henry who was very fond of children and light music, was always ready to take me to the circus or to see an operetta. And Fanny loved museums and gardens and we often went to Musée Carnavalet, where I haven’t been for years.
Needless to say that I considered them as my private property and became quite jealous when R., their daughter was born. I was six, then, and asked to be given a baby bottle like the newly-born baby. My aunt, who had never studied psychology, did make me a bottle, and that settled it. I remember distinctly thinking that it was a lot of work for yucky results. 😉
When she told my mother she had given me a bottle, Gitta was furious. She thought Fanny was spoiling me rotten. She was indeed, but not that particular time.