Letter from the Editor
The snow is finally thawing everywhere, except of course Whistler, British Columbia – where a number of alumni either live or vacation. Now we can really focus on summer plans. If you haven’t made your plane reservations to the reunion – COMO, ITALY – 1-5 JULY 2005 – you might want to act on it quickly. Flights are getting booked. Likewise, the newsletter has some important contact information regarding hotel arrangements etc. Please try to book your rooms as quickly as possible. Massimo has made arrangements with the hotel to hold a number of rooms but the longer you wait you are taking a chance on not getting in. Thanks to Sharon Taylor Baumann we have two important things: 1) The Reunion Tally and 2) the PFers Night-Out List. This has taken a tremendous about of time and energy and we owe her many thanks and a nice glass of fine Italian wine in Como! If you don’t see your name on either list and are attending please email her. This list is very important in the planning of activities etc. For those not attending the Reunion please be sure to email your stories and photos to be shared at the Reunion. We want to make sure that you are part of it one way or another. I for one am anxious to see Jean Paul Lewis’ old Les Roches “cahiers” that he recently found in Nice at his mother’s home. There will be one more newsletter before the reunion, so if you have something to submit be sure to send it in.
Reunion 2005 COMO, Italy
Le Due Corti Hotel
Room prices including breakfast are €101 for a single and €149 for a double. Half pension for lunch and dinner is an additional €26 per day.
34 Alumni have confirmed that they will be attending the reunion.
16 Alumni are on the “hopeful” list.
Many thanks to all who have let me know whether they will be attending the reunion or not.
However, if you have not done so, please email me (Baumapj@wam.co.za) as soon as possible.
Looking forward to seeing you in Como,
Como Reunion 1-5 July 2005
The following is a list of the attendees for the next Les Roches Reunion in Como, Italy.
Please do not just assume that your friends will be there without encouraging them to attend. Check out the “Hopefuls List” and email friends to ensure that they will be in Como. Also, if your friends are not on either of the lists, please take the time to check whether they can join us. Of course all of us have financial and family restraints -but making the effort to attend this reunion will definitely be rewarding –something to cherish for many years to come:
PFers Night 30 June
A fun evening the night before the reunion starts is being planned for the “girls only”! No distractions from “the guys”. This means PFers, Internats wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers – girls only. More details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, the following is a list of those who have signed up. If you would like to attend or “hope” to attend, please email Sharon Taylor Baumann at Baumapj@wam.co.za
On a brilliant alpine weekend afternoon in the spring of 1973, Giancarlo Felli and I visited la sorciere, (the witch), of Martigny. We were desperate men at the end of our rope in search of a cure.
For years, at Les Roches, both of us had been suffering from violent acne outbreaks on our faces that made us become obsessed in finding an antidote to kill the ravages that scared our skin with unspeakable crimson lesions. There were times when we considered ourselves a little better off than elephant men. Of course we were not the only men or women at Les Roches that suffered from this plight that made us look like minor burn victims during the 1970’s, but I think that Giancarlo and I can speak for all of us that struggled with this plague of the skin.
We had tried every remedy prescribed by our well-heeled dermatologists to render our bodies free from this painful and unattractive condition. We bathed in special soaps, thickly creamed our faces like old women at night, consumed countless containers of water-dissolving tablets, pills, etc ….
What was critical to both of us; however, was a creeping sense of self-consciousness and eroding personal self esteem when it came to how we looked to the women of Pres Fleuris.
Giancarlo found an herbalist who lived in a hamlet near the town of Martigny, about sixty kilometers west from Montana. This woman we were told was renowned as a miracle worker regarding skin disorders and had cured many who had been inflicted with this curse of youth. After securing permission from Lord Abbott, Clivaz, Giancarlo picked me up in his car; a white supped-up, wide-tired Mini-Martin with a tiny racing steering wheel and bucket seats that made you feel as if you were in a cockpit of a fighter aircraft. Down the mountain we went, Monte Carlo style, Giancarlo driving at high speed and expertly shifting gears every three seconds.
We arrived at the outskirts of Martigny and asked for the directions to the herbalist’s residence. We located the private road that let to the chalet and after several sharp twists and turns through the hilly woods, we arrived at a small clearing in the middle of a dark pine forest where a structure that reminded me of a serf dwelling in the fourteenth century stood. A line of blue smoke emerged from its stout chimney. The house had only one floor and was made from ancient logs. The chalet lay squat on the soft forest ground as if time had slowly sucked it into the earth. The size and steep pitch of the roof, perfectly designed to divert heavy snowfall, was the most dominant feature of the large hut. I remember that I saw no windows. We slowly got out of the Mini and were suddenly ambushed by dozens of dogs that surrounded the car and curtailed Giancarlo and I from moving away from the vehicle.
“Are you sure we are at the right place?” I asked Carlo, as the dogs barked, howled and sneered at us.
“I believe so,” he responded coolly, slowly removing his ray-bands from his face.
A shrill voice cried out from a tiny doorway at the chalet yelling at the beasts to be silent and to back-off. We turned to see an old stooped woman with wild gray hair creeping towards us. She was assisted by a crooked and knotted hardwood cane. The excited canines suddenly became passive and Carlo asked politely if she was the herbalist.
“Who else would live in the woods like this?” she laughed, revealing missing teeth.
Carlo came right to the point of business. “Oui, madame, we need to consult with you regarding obtaining herbs for our skin condition.”
“I can see that!” she interrupted, bemused by our nervousness. “Follow-me,” she beckoned, raising her long index finger with a nail that resembled a stiletto.
We followed her into the hut and entered a large room that reeked of cooking herbs, roots, and soot. The space was somber and lit only by candles and the open pit and hearth fires. Dozens of huge cats roamed at will and walked the rafters while others meowed us and rubbed their sleek frames against our legs. Hundreds of different types of herbs hung from the solid beams and rafters as if they were bats and the walls were crowded with jars and old bottles that held creams and what looked like potions for every malady known to man.
The herbalist made us sit together on a crude wooden bench as if we were condemned men while she circled the room checking on the progress of her mysterious brews.
“Alors! Where do you come from?” she asked, keeping her head bowed. She kept her head low but we could see that her face was heavily lined by age and weather. She was clad in several layers of old sweaters and she wore a long and wide wool dress that was heavily patched. Her feet were encased in aged wooden clogs.
“Montana/Crans,” responded Carlo politely while we watched her gather some bags of herbs.
“Ah! Vous-venez de chez les Clivazs!” She bellowed, turning to face us. She stood erect in the center of the dark room; her stringy uncombed silver hair hid half her face. “I know him and his kind!” I also treated him when he was a boy. He came to me begging and then turned against me.” She scoffed, turning her nose toward the rafters. “But I am not afraid of him. He can not bully me.”
Giancarlo and I laughed and we knew immediately that we had found an ally with common interests. The herbalist then started to berate doctors and dermatologists for being quacks and thieves. We concurred with her analysis of the medical profession and she proceeded to nicely explain to us how to administer the natural lotions to our infected parts and how to consume the different teas. The herbalist wanted ten franks from each of us and we paid her gladly. Once safely away from view but still making our way down her drive, Carlo and I broke into hysterical laughter. We did not know if we were to be happy not being hexed by the hag or joyful in procuring our little herb bags.
“I’m telling you, the witch in “Snow White” looked a hell of a lot better than she,” said Carlo, still laughing as the low-riding Mini bounced on the rutted road.
I couldn’t stop howling either: “Yes, and did you notice that there were no mirrors on the walls?”
After having graduated from Les Roches some 30 years ago – at the time when Les Roches was an International School – 25 alumni and their families came back to Bluche for the 2004 reunion. It was wonderful to see their smiles and hear their laughter talking about the old days and the many memories they had to share. Having always known Les Roches as it is today, we were keeping our eyes and ears open in order to grab as many stories we could to understand what Les Roches represents to them.
The reunion was a tremendous success by many accounts: people connecting after many years, visiting places that were part of a distant memory and of course the highlight – “revisiting the school and seeing Mr. Marcel Clivaz. It was truly a very happy and emotional time for many, and all those who attended are thankful that they were able to do so.”
During their four days reunion in Valais, the group took a day trip to Zermatt where they were joined by Mr. Clivaz and they also had a raclette picnic tucked away up in the hills. Many dinners, anecdotes and of course the not-to-miss night life at the Absolute Disco (where our current students go out!) was part of the program. There were reports that “the latest, or the earliest, that someone was reported as getting back to the hotel after an evening of adventures was 6:00 AM!” See what the Les Roches fresh air does to our alumni!!
But these alumni are not people who only enjoy the savoir vivre, they also work hard organizing these yearly reunions and keeping the Les Roches spirit alive. May I invite you to visit their site www.friendsofbluche.com. You will be able to read more articles about their time at Bluche and their last reunion.
After each of them had returned back to their homes, spread all over the world, we received an email from Debra Duke who wrote us the following: “One funny story I must tell you. I was in my yoga class a couple of weeks ago, and saw some old friends. I asked what their sons were doing these days – they responded that one of them, Reuben Kurivilla, was just starting a one year MBA program at a small Hotel Management School in Bluche, Suisse!”
Please don’t wait another 30 years to come and visit us again!
It is white everywhere, and lots of snow! I can only wear “apres ski” boots as I tour around the village. It had snowed a lot during the night and it is still snowing today. The atmosphere is soflty delicious. Little noises with very few people around; it is cold, freezing cold, but the sky is blue and the skyline of the mountains in front of me is gorgeous.
Nothing has changed and everything has changed. I have a week of holidays with my children and I’ve taken them to ski where I skied when I was in school! Such an emotion to see them walking around the streets where I used to walk with my roommates, such an emotion to see them skiing where I was continuously falling down! Such an emotion to go to the Coop with them and remember when at the same age of my oldest daughter I was there buying a bottle of red wine and hiding it under my yellow Pres Fleuris jacket. And I still remember the face of Cornelia when I fell just outside the shop because the street was icy and the bottle broke and all the wine came out… Should I tell this to my children who are busy eating a Kaggifret? Many years have gone by and the Kaggifret are still delicious!
I’m now a middle age woman free to go around as I want and where I want, all day long and even at night! No Irene to look after me and even punish me for the next soiree! The Sporting Club is still there but now, Francoise Borgeat and I can go out without having to request permission and we can even sleep out all night if we want… Where though? This is a private matter… I can still skate but now it is with my four children, we rent skates and spend the afternoon on the rink. I still remember all the faces of my school friends and their red noses while I go around but it is now with my Francesca, Giulia, Laura and Gianfilippo that I’m enjoying the afternoon. No more Les Roches boys in the surroundings. My children keep asking: Mamma what was it like when you went to school here? I answer that it was like it is now. Of course curious children are not satisfied and continue to probe for details: What were the soirees like, the movie nights, study hall, shopping in Montana, and how much pocket money did you have, etc., etc… They never tire of hearing about my “days of youth”. And in the voice of youth, Gianfilippo asks me if I ever met Caesar and Cleopatra … and he makes me feel older than I deserve!
I’ve grown up, I don’t smoke anymore, my hair has turned “salt and pepper” but my memories are very vivid. I almost don’t even need to close my eyes to remember the face of Mme Tanfini and her dog Fuffi. Still ringing in my ears is the voice of Mme Clivaz calling “Mlle Giorgi Monfort au bureau s’il vous plait”… And I still remember how disappointed and sad I was to miss the soirees!
Happily my age now allows me not to have to ask permission in order to go out for dinner and have a wonderful meat fondue. Only one detail has changed; it is me now who has to pay the bill.
Heard On The Web
I will encourage the few people that I do have contact with to register on the web site.
I was in contact with the Alumni Coordinator at Les Roches in case anyone from way back in my time was on their database, she was very helpful and this is what she said – I thought you might be interested.
“I have checked our database and we do not have anyone who was at Les Roches between 1958 and 1961. I believe this website was mainly accessed by alumni who had graduate from Les Roches as a hotel school. I am pleased to know that you got in touch with the Friends of Bluche and I really appreciate all the efforts you all put to keep this site alive. I am sorry of not being able to be of any further assistance to. I will definitely keep you and all the other Friends of Bluche informed of the progress of our site and I will be pleased to put a note on the site to promote your website. Who knows, word of mouth may bring some of your friends back to you.” Alexia Maloutas
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