Happy days


To listen to this post in French, click below

With my uncle and aunt in 1958
With my uncle and aunt in 1958

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.


18 thoughts on “Happy days

  1. That’s a lovely photo, Claude, and you were so pretty! I wore prescription shoes until I was about 10, so I know how you felt. Mine were brown leather high tops (so chic!). I had a favorite aunt and uncle, but they never had kids, so I didn’t have to share them….LOL

  2. Well your Catholic friends these days don’t have to think too hard to find a sin to confess. 😉

    I love that photo. It’s a shame you didn’t like the red velvet dress. Perhaps if it had a different style? I would have killed for a red velvet dress. In fact, I may go and make myself one right now.

  3. What a beautifully spoken story. The pride and affection in the storytellers voice when talking about her dear aunt and uncle is lovely to hear. I was also fortunate to have a favourite aunt who I “considered my private property”. Neither she nor I could do any wrong in the other person’s eyes.

  4. Look at you in your red velvet dress. You are so cute. If you were about thirteen years old at the time…looking svelte and slender was important. Even with that big bow that you hated….you look lovely. Your aunt and uncle look like two very fun and loving people. How nice to be spoiled by them.

  5. lovely. Brings me back to similar memories of two sets of loving (adoring would not be exaggerating, too) child-free aunts and uncles. The head shot of you would fit nicely into your time-lapsed banner of photos. Your dress and shoes and the safe, tucked-in place between these charming- and kind-looking relatives is enviable. The just look smart, too. Every child and adult deserves spoiling.

  6. What a precious picture of the three of you, I could see the affection you all had for each other.

    Your post reminded me of a favorite aunt I had. We had such fun together. I remember one time when I was still in a highchair she started to go home and I squirmed out of the highchair and ran after her.

    I too had to wear a pair of very homely laced shoes- I remember my friends asking me if there was anything wrong with my feet!

  7. Lovely photo of you all and happy memories it has brought back to you.

    Dax, beautiful place. We visited friends who where refugees from the Spanish Civil War and had an hotel in Dax. The first year we went was the year that the Spanish refugees were allowed to visit their home villages. We made the trip and I remember crying at the time with them, both sadly and happily. You do bring memories back Claude.

  8. Such tender-hearted people! They helped you grow into the generous person you became, Claude. Diving in my past also brings warmth to my heart and tears to my eyes. I miss the special people of my youth. Où sont les neiges d’antan?

  9. A lovely photo and I think you were an attractive young girl, but understand your feelings at your age, much as my own for different reasons. Wonderful to have had such a relationship with a special Aunt and Uncle. Reminded me I was the special Aunt for a niece and nephew, then started a family of my own, but they were high school age at the time, so easier for them to accept. Your Aunt was, indeed, very perceptive and understanding helping you cope with the birth of their baby, your new cousin. I, too, had a velvet dress that was beautiful, but I was only about 5 or 6 yrs, and I hated my dress that my mother, an exceptional seamstress, had made for me. You see, she put lace around the collar — itchy, itchy lace — and think that began my distaste for lace, high collars and dresses — all of which I’ve long since worn.

  10. I enjoyed the photo and your description of the wonderful relationship that you had with your aunt and uncle. As one of those Catholic girls who had to make up sins for Saturday’s confession, your comment brought a smile to my face and a wee bit of nostalgia for the old days with the nuns. However like indigestion, it passed quickly 🙂

  11. I love this picture, Claude! Perhaps because it reminds so much of my own past, of dress-up times with much loved relatives. Some many lovely spirits are evoked, and your commentary brings them forth even more.

    Merci beaucoup!


  12. What a great story, Claude. I really enjoyed it and I just love the photo. You were so attractive (still are) and I love your dress and shoes. I had a very similar outfit.
    I’m just wondering if this cousin is the one you called when I was at your apt. and you called her for me about a restaurant? I remember being envious that you had a cousin so nearby. Mine are scattered across the country.

  13. another of your wonderful photos from the past. after reading this, heard an NPR inteview with Rupert Christiansen. he’s an englishman who has written The Complete Book of Aunts.

    he wrote it because he had an experience like yours with an aunt, very important in his life. fascinating about how this relationship does not exist in animal kindgdom, how it came about, and disappearance in china with the one-child family.

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