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The First Time I Saw Paris

Dorothy Denne

I’m currently reading David McCullough’s The Greater Journey (Americans in Paris). It reminds me of the first time I saw Paris.
McCullough writes about a number of young Americans who went to Paris in the 1830s through 1900. His characters were young artists, writers, doctors and politicians. Think James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel Morse, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emma Willard, Elizabeth Blackwell and more. Their goals were more serious than mine. They wanted to educate themselves and improve on their skills and talents. I wanted to see things I had only heard of and have a good time.
I traveled with a group of people most of whom had never met before. We were all ages from many different parts of the country and many different walks of life. Great way to travel for a single woman in her very early 20s with very little money.
Oh my, the sites I saw and the experiences I had. Like McCullough’s book, though the sites were outstanding and fascinating, the people were often more so. Today, these many years later, my vivid memories of the first time I saw Paris involve Jimmy, Frank, Evelyn, Lucille, Stan, Roy and the old woman with heavy make-up and loose bowels.
Perhaps I’ll share some of those memories with you in a future column. Like, maybe the one about the monkey who took a shine to me when we were “touristing” in a “red light” district. I must be careful not to overdo it now as in my early enthusiasm.
I returned home with not many souveniers but tons of slides. Naturally, I invited several relatives to share. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and probably basically boring my relatives. I think they were secretly delighted when, about half way through my presentation, my nephews’ Dachshund chewed through the cord of my projector.

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