Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old Postcard Wednesday--Chemins de Fer de Provence, Railways Provence, France - after freezing fog

Railways Provence - In Salvaret, near Villars, after the freezing fog

I do not know French, which is something that disappoints me frequently - such as right now with this old postcard. The printed description on the back of the postcard translates to something like the following:

Les Chemins de Fer de Provence run a narrow gauge line that connects NICE FIT (150 km) through the valleys of the Var and Verdon. From the Cote d'Azure, it rises more than 1000m. Annot altitude between the Alps and St. Andre. ~Google translator

The Railroads of Provence exploit a narrow-gauge line which connects NICE has WORTHY (150 km) by the valleys of the VAr and the Verdon. On the basis of the Dimension d' Blue, it goes up has more 1000m. d' altitude between Annot and St Andre the Alps. ~Babel Fish translation

Perhaps if Owen or other French-speaking readers find this post they will help with the note handwritten in 1979. I am intrigued by it, as it obviously was not written to post in the mail. Perhaps it was a longer message and was tucked inside an envelope with other mementos from a marvelous trip. I find the image so captivating and the scene really draws me into it. It is both breathtaking and serene and I wish I was there.

If I was there on that train in 1979 what events might I be reading about in the newspaper?

  • SALT II The S.A.L.T. II Accord was reached in June of 1979. The Accord allowed both the US and U.S.S.R. to build up to 2,250 missiles, of which 1,320 could be MIRVD (Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles). The MIRVD missiles could carry many warheads. The agreement was received with disdain by critics of the Soviets, who believed that the accord granted the Soviets the advantage. The S.A.L.T. II agreement was never ratified, as the subsequent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan eliminated any support for the treaty. The treaty's terms, however, continued to be observed by both sides.
  • US and China Establish Full Diplomatic Relations In January 1979, the United States and Communist China established formal diplomatic relations. The US broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan, thereby meeting the Communist Chinese precondition for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.
  • Vietnamese take Phnom Penh, China invades Vietnam In January 1979, Vietnamese troops captured Phnom Penh, in attempt to overthrow the government of Pol Pot. In response, the Chinese invaded North Vietnam.
  • Ali Bhutto Hanged In 1978, a military coup led by General Zia unseated President Bhutto. Bhutto was charged with corruption and sentenced to death. Despite pleas from many world leaders, the new Pakistani government hung Bhutto on April 5.
  • Soviets invade Afghanistan Soviet troops poured into Afghanistan to support Hafizullah Amin, who had recently unseated Mohammed Taraki. The Soviets quickly sent 40,000 troops, but were unable to put down the rebellion launched by Taraki loyalists. The United States and Islamic countries began giving aid to the rebels, who were called the Mujahedeen. Afghanistan soon became the "Soviet Vietnam," tying up ever greater numbers of Soviet troops and resulting in countless body bags being sent back to Russia.
  • Idi Amin Overthrown The despotic rule of Idi Amin came to an end when a joint force of Ugandan rebels and Tanzanian troops entered the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Amin fled.
  • War between Somalia and Ethiopia On August 8, Somalia invaded Ethiopia, the latest chapter in the ongoing dispute over the Ogaden. The Somalis were initially successful in their attack, but the Soviets -- initially patrons of the Somalis -- switched sides and started supporting the Ethiopians. They withdrew all aid to the Somalis, who were forced to rapidly retreat.
  • Southern Rhodesia Becomes Zimbabwe The white-controlled government, under Ian Smith, successfully held out against majority rule until 1976. At that point, the South Africans decided to withhold further military aid. The white government then began negotiations with black nationalist groups and agreed to transfer majority rule to the Blacks by the end of 1978. In January 1979, white Rhodesians agreed to a constitutional change that would insure majority rule. In addition, they agreed to change the name of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.
  • Shah of Iran Ousted Throughout 1978, demonstrations increased against the rule of the Shah. These demonstrations were fueled by religious leaders who opposed the Shah's Western outlook. The exiled Ayatollah Khomeini was especially effective in stirring opposition to the Shah. In August, a movie theater was set on fire by extremists in Abadan. On September 8, the Army opened fire on demonstrators, killing hundreds.The Shah declared martial law. However, he seemed to lack the will to crack down on demonstrators as he had done in the past. On January 16, the Shah left Iran for exile. One week later, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile and formed an Islamic Revolutionary Government.
  • Peace treaty Between Egypt and Israel On March 26, in Washington D.C., a peace agreement was signed between Egypt and Israel. The peace treaties, known as the Camp David Accords, called for a complete Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. In return, Egypt would recognize Israel and maintain full diplomatic relations with the Jewish State. Sinai was to be demilitarized, with the United States providing troops to monitor the demilitarization.
  • Militant Students seize US Embassy In Tehran Angered by the arrival of the Shah for medical treatment in the US, militant students attacked and seized the American embassy in Teheran. The students held 49 embassy employees hostage for over a year. The US attempted a rescue mission but it was aborted.
  • Trade Act On July 26, President Carter signed the Trade Act Bill. The bill, which was the culmination of the Tokyo round of trade talks, reduced further tariffs on a wide range of items, and introduced a mechanism to handle unfair trade practices.
  • Three Mile Island A nuclear accident occured at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The accident, which was contained, raised fears of nuclear accidents. In its aftermath, the building of almost all nuclear power plants in the US came to a halt.
  • Sandinistas Force Samozas out of Nicuragua An ongoing revolution against the government of Anastasio Somoza came to an end when Somoza fled the country. Somoza was forced out when the middle class deserted him after the assassination of newspaper editor Pedro Joaquin Chamorro. The US cut off all aid for the Somoza regime, and eventually the 43-year Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua came to an end. Taking power in its stead were the Sandinistas, who were pro-Communist and received support from Cuba's Castro and the Soviet Union. This antagonized the US and led to American support for the Contras, who opposed the new Nicaraguan government.
  • Civil War in El Salvador Civil war broke out in El Salvador. A military coup unseated President Carlos Humberto Romero. The goal of the military was to try to stem the increasing violence between right- and left-wingers. The clashes continued and, in December 1980, three American nuns were killed. This incident caused American President Carter to suspend all aid to El Salvador.

Luckily, the Sony Walkman was introduced to the public that year and would provide a welcome escape from the headlines of the day (because, face it, they were truly miserable headlines). If I had recorded a tape of the Music Top 10 to take with me on the train it would contain the following selections:

1."Too Much Heaven" ... Bee Gees
2."Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" ... Rod Stewart
3."I Will Survive" ... Gloria Gaynor
4."Tragedy" ... Bee Gees
5."What a Fool Believes" ... Doobie Brothers (won the Grammy for Record of the Year and Best Song)
6."Knock on Wood" ... Ami Stewart
7."Heart of Glass" ... Blondie
8."Reunited" .. .Peaches and Herb
9."Hot Stuff" ... Donna Summers
10."Love You Inside Out" ... Bee Gees

Yuk. On second thought, the music of the day has the potential of ruining my trip altogether! Thankfully, I packed 1979's #1 Most Popular Book (Nonfiction). It will be a light and hysterical read because this author never disappointed. Just the perfect book for a snowy train ride in the mountains of Provence thirty-two years ago.

(If I were to visit the area circa 2011, I would most definitely want to stay in a yurt at Les Yourtes de Domette.)

Information about events, trends in 1979 via History Central



mythopolis said...

I love the pale icy blue frosty sense of the photo. I would like to take that train ride.
Other music of '79 deserving mention might be, The Clash, B-52s, Talking Heqds, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, etc...the alternative scene was punk, and post-punk new wave variations.
I bought the very first model Walkman when it came out, and still have it. It sits on my shelf now as a 'vintage gadget', but is probably still functional.
Enjoyed the flashback.

Manuela said...

isn't it funny, how we tent to think of the past with nostalgia - but if you look at these headlines, there isn't much difference from the violence and wars of today... thank yo for this glimpse!

Stafford Ray said...

Can't help with the translation, but recognise a fellow map tragic who secretly mourns his/her inability to be able to see all that is there to be seen in one's lifetime!

Hattie said...

We were living in Europe in 1979, and that was a great place to be then. Those hits: ugh, I know what you mean. But most popular culture is not made to last, anyway.

Stickup Artist said...

Are those the good old days we hear of so often? I prefer this glittering fairy tale world you have presented with this gorgeous postcard. Your post reminds me that it is important to be balanced and even regarding one's perceptions.

Lydia said...

mythopolis~ I too love what you described as the "pale icy blue frosty sense" of this old postcard. It came into my hands in the nicest way. I placed a goodly-size order with a vintage postcard seller in France, and when my order arrived she had included a small envelope of cards with scenes from around Provence, circa 1970-80s, so probably not old enough to be considered vintage but she made a big hit with me!
I totally missed the punk scene and darnit I keep reading stuff about The Clash, so I promise I will listen to some of their work. Hang onto that Walkman!

Manuela~ I know! That is what I thought, too. And at the time most of those events made a big enough impression for me to care/worry. Each age has its tragedies and triumphs.

Stafford Ray~ You pegged me correctly! And at the same time gave me a new phrase to consider: map tragic. :)

Hattie~ I just the other day mentioned to my husband that you had lived in Europe. Now I have an idea of the time frame. It fascinates me, as does this line: "But most popular culture is not made to last, anyway."

Stickup Artist~ Great line: " is important to be balanced and even regarding one's perceptions." :) I must admit that the comparison of events from then to now was a reality check for me.
As for the card, read its little history in my comments to mythopolis.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

i was sure i'd left a comment on this post, but clearly didn't

I love the postcard - it makes me think of Hercule Poirot riding the Orient Express and investigating a murder

Bee Gees were very busy that year - but the reason i thought i'd replied was over "do you think i'm sexy" as i used to have a boss who would walk about singing whatever song was in his head and once came into a darkened filing room where i was working alone singing "do you think i'm sexy"

it still makes me shiver

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping somebody does the translation of the personal message. It's salutary to remember the events of 1979 and how little we have learned.

kathew said...

oh la la..I cannot read her handwriting-darnit- the image is dreamy and then! you send me to nearby Nice where here are yurts? I began to fantasize how I could get there....thanks for the day dream!

Rhiannon said...

That beautiful "freezing fog" pic in France is absolutely stunning to me. I love it! A lot was going on in that era you are writing including pop and some disco "duck" remember that one?

My favorite song listed here in the top ten was "I will survive"...I've always related to this's a song that can be song through the matter what era we are least I feel that way.

Winter is pretty cold here but I'm hanging in there. Spring will be here before you know it.

I'm going to be the big "60" in March Lydia. How about that? I made far.

Year of Metal Rabbit is my year and it will arrive on Feb.3rd. Hooray! A more peaceful year I am sure. I can see the signs already. Sometimes it takes terrible tragedies to wake us up out of our deep sleep. I can feel the's coming. The last year came roaring in and now we are going to be more "softer"'ll see.

Hope your staying warm.



Lydia said...

Anonymous~ Indeed it is. I hope someone translates it too.

kathew~ Thanks for looking it over in an attempt to translate! And, yes, don't those yurts look special?

Rhi~ I agree about this postcard. It has become one of my favorites.
Disco just did not "do" it for me, Rhi. I can't think of one disco song that I particularly cared for and the title disco duck does not ring a bell.
I ordered some wonderful pears from your area (Harry & David) and they arrived today. When we ate them for desert I thought about you. Wish I could serve you poached pears for your birthday in pretend that it happens. I got the pears on a big sale, what with winter and all. It's cold here too and I'm ready for spring. xo

Owen said...

Hi Lydia,
I only just saw your request for translation, I'm so late getting around to all the blogs I like to look at... but better late than never...

As best I can make out the card says this :

Dear Genevieve and Georges,
Some news about everybody, and good news, coming back from Riez (you, JL, JF, Florent [note, probably stands for Jean-Luc and Jean-François]) after a delicious stay in pure Provence, without any invasion of second residences. Forests, fields of lavender, vineyards, farms, old villages still intact with their cast iron church bells and their small, ancient castles. My very delicate friends, taking good care. (of us?) I had a heart overflowing with emotion to leave all of that.
Weather pretty much like yours, apparently. Half and half full sunshine, clouds, veiled sun. But a good proportion of the first (full sun) and plenty of fresh air. 21 years that I've been coming here, and I've never had any heavy or crushing weather. I don't know if that exists in July and August. We had a long letter from JL followed by another from JF. I'm particularly happy for all the good news coming from them. It's true, the improvement in JF's grades at school and the success of his ... [end of card]

Well, not the most interesting of letters, I was almost tempted to invent a far more romantic story...

Where on earth do you find all these old postcards ???

Lydia said...

Owen~ Thank You for the Wonderful Translation!!! What a treat to know what the words say, and I actually think some of what was said was quite poetic. You sure added to the enjoyment of this card, which was a freebie from a vintage postcard seller in Paris that came with an order I placed... it was tucked inside a separate envelope with other "less vintage" postcards of Provence scenes. A special surprise, most definitely.
Again, many many thanks for the translation. :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails