Topic: Soaking Up Culture
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Soaking Up Culture

Posted: Feb 25, 2018 3:28 PM

The war in both theaters was over and the 3125th Signal Service Company was disbamded. About 25 - 30 of us were sent down to a camp above Marseille, France. There were probably about 200 - 300 other troops in the camp, all of us in limbo status, awaiting our next orders. All of our men were in one barracks and we had a 2nd. Lt. with us. The Lt. came to me and asked what we could do to keep the men occupied.I had heard there was an Army unit in Marseille whose function was to supply projectors, film and other items to troops in the area. My first trip was a huge success. The Jeep driver and I came back with a projector, screen, film, record player, records, playing cards and various games.

After the first "haul", the Lieutenant appointed me "Director of Entertainment", but with no increase in grade. My Jeep driver and I made frequent trips to Marseille to return and pick up new film. The guys preferred the old cowboy movies so we had a lot of "shoot 'em ups". On one of my trips, I was given several "flyers" inviting US Military personnel to attend the Marseille Opera. The Opera House had been closed during the war but was now open, and the next perfpormane was "CARMEN". Not one man in our group had ever attended an opera and I lknew it would be a hard sell generating interest in attending their first opera.

I called the men together and informed them we had an opportunity to attend the opera in Marseille and we would be admitted for a special low price. That announcement went over as if I had told them there would be no beer ration next month. It was now time to swing with a bigger bat. Attending an opera was the mark of culture and being able to add this to your resume, would open doors where few had trod. Well, that was strike two. It was now time to appeal to their beastly nature, which was my ace in the hole. Fortunately, I knew a little bit about Carmen, just enough to whet their appetites. Carmen was a young Gypsy girl with lots of charm and feminine attributes. Surely the role would be played by a young lady who would fit these requirements. Suddenly, the attitude and interest in attending the opera seemed to simmer. By the time I finished explaining that Carmen also had some good looking friends who were endowed with lots nd lots of pulchretude, every man in the barracks was ready to jump on the truck and go to Marseille.

Opera day arrived and the truck was loaded as we departed for Marseille. This was the day we were going to be exposed to real culture. Opera de Marseille was a beautifu;l old building. It had been damaged during the war but had since been restored, We were ushered to our seats and it appeared we had some of the best seats in the house. The curtin rose and it was not long before we had our first look at Carmen. She was all I had imagined and much more. I took my eyes off of her momentarily and glanced at some of the guys. I could readily tell thir eyes were fixated on Carmen and there was a smile on their face. They were really soaking up the culture. Then came "Habanera", a beautiful song that drew one encore after another, probably six or seven in total. WOW !!! She had a sultry voice.

Later on came the "Toreador Song", and again, several encores. When we entered the Opera House, we were given a program in English, which gave an excellent overview of the opera. We were able to follow the scenes although none of us knew what was being said or sung.

It was well past midnight when we boarded our luxury trnsportation unit to return to our equally luxurous living quarters. Every man said he enjoyed it and pleasantly surprised that it would have some appeal for them. Sometimes, during our time on Planet Earth, it's good to soak up some culture even if we are far, far away from home.


Re: Soaking Up Culture

Posted: Feb 26, 2018 7:19 AM

Great story--we can all use a little culture, especially in insane times and places. Thanks for your service and your stories. You remind us that there's more to life than what's happening in our little corner of the world.


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