Saturday, April 7, 2012
La Belle Époque, French for " the Beautiful Era," - in France the time between 1871 and 1914, the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the beginning of World War I, when life was beautiful, Europe stable, and the world at peace.
My grandmother Marguerite lived in the small village of Graffigny-Chemin with her mother and sister. Marguerite's father, Charles William Meine had passed away, but left the family in comfortable circumstances. He, as I was to learn later, German, though nothing is left of his family records other than an old photograph or two. In 1918. my grandmother married my grandfather, Madison Pearson, an officer with the American army in World War I.
In 1909 Graffigny-Chemin was, as it is now a small village of several hundred souls in the French department of Haute-Marne, formerly the province of Lorraine. Then, as now, it was a farming village with cattle in the pastures, and orchards in the hills behind the village. A stream fed the waterwell in the center of town next to one of two churches that Graffigny had, and across the main square from the house where my grandmother lived with her family. The house where they lived was unlike any other in Graffigny, for it was surrounded by a wall which enclosed the two-story house, a carriage house, and garden.
In April of 1909, Jeanne d'Arc was beatified by Pope Pius X. That event, most likely, inspired the photograph and postcard seen below. And there in the postcard, on the left side is the wall surrounding the home and the carriage house of my grandmother. My grandmother was a young lady at this time. She is perhaps lost in the crowd.
Visit the Orleans Fête de Jeanne d'Arc.