Chelsea-Versailles 1955

Among the things that I did not know about Marjon is that there used to be a lively student exchange between the college and the Ecole Normale D’instituteurs in Versailles. And I wouldn’t know still if I wouldn’t stick my nose where it doesn’t belong and dig up some of the scrap books that were made to commemorate the occasion. Apart from the student’s scrapbooks from the beginning of the twentieth century that I’ve written about before, I was never very much into the idea of a scrapbook. In our time, when everybody carries a pocket camera, galleries can be made on the fly and uploaded to a social platform of your choice, I can’t see much point to it. But back then, a scrapbook could be a great project. This one is, a memory of an event that survived for sixty years on these pages. What is special about it is that it is not a work of one person. This is not a work of some zealot that collected ticket stubs, newspapers and drew pictures like there was no tomorrow. This scrapbook is a compilation of work of all participants of the exchange. Each person contributed to this project. They wrote articles on a different subject concerning the life in Versailles. They drew pictures of art, buildings, life scenes and of an occasional French bum that they encountered ( technically such a person is called a clochard and is an important part of local ambience):-). There are tickets to attractions, map of the ‘expedition’, fronts from French cigarette boxes and even the receipts from the restaurants they visited. Want to check what was good to eat back then? Be my guest:-). And what is interesting about the exchange of 1955 is that it is an exchange that almost wasn’t. Apparently, that year an epidemic of scarlet fever stormed through the Ecole Normale D’instituteurs. Seriously not fun. The scrapbook contains a telegram from Versailles that brought the news that almost nixed the plans for the exchange. Luckily it was only postponed and the exchange went ahead. And that is how a beautiful keepsake was made.

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