Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ptecrôt, fifty years ago...

This place impossible to pronounce (this name translated from local Savoyard patois means, “small hollow”) used to be a cluster of small barns built to store hay during summer harvest before is was slid down the mountain in bundles also know in patois as “fés” or “portshiô” in late fall or early winter.

Just about 50 years ago, I was helping a famous local skier and instructor called Jean Berthet, from Les Gets, near my home in the French Alps, to disassemble, then transport these 12' x 12' tiny wooden structures also known as “bô” in the local dialect. It happen just after the end of the The Six-Day War or Third Arab–Israeli War, that was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967.

I was there with my brother Gaston and my cousin Robert Garnier. I remember that my cousin, who had fought in the Algerian war, was particularly delighted to see the Arabs severely beaten up during that conflict as we were evoking the current news during our breaks.

The place is incredibly steep and the work was hard. I don't even remember if we got paid for what we did, but we do it mostly to secure us a good word from Jean Berthet who then was quite influential in the ski industry, at a time when the three of us yearned to become ski instructors.

I was also about to enter the military and because of my education and to my chagrin, I was guaranteed a slot in the French Air Force instead of being in the “Chasseur Alpins” the French mountain division. This would have allowed me to ski and stay closer to the mountains for the 16 month mandatory ordeal.

The day went by, we got the job done and I never knew if Jean Berthet remembered that he should give some good word about me or not, or in the affirmative, if his intervention ever worked.
It didn't; I ended up in the Air Force!

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