Notes from the Editors
Jean Paul Lewis
Finally, another newsletter!!! Absence does seem to make the heart grow fonder.
Suddenly there is email chatter flying around about trying to find lost alumni, raising money to pay for the website, house swapping, where are the reunion photos, when is the next newsletter, people getting together and of course Ottavia spending the weekend in Montana with the children skiing.
Although silent for the past few months, there has been a lot of activity searching for “lost souls”. You will see on the Interactive Database on the website, quite a number of newly found alumni have surfaced. Although I don’t know many of them personally, they have been verified by others as legitimately having paid their dues to be called “one of us”. One newly surfaced alumn, Marie Torkehagen Phillips, was someone I held near and dear in my faded memories as someone with great spirit, not afraid of getting into trouble and a pretty good skier as well. How great it was to hear from her. Other new names are Wendy Lamont, Eric Chamchoum, Manny Asencio, Lynn Minai and many more. Most of this investigative work is being done by Sharon Taylor Baumann and Annette Cooper White. Many, many thanks to them both! Another important ally is Alexia Maloutas. As head of the Les Roches Hotel Management School Alumni Association, she receives many inquiries from “lost LR/PF Alumn” from our generation. She graciously sends these strays in our direction. Many, many thanks to these people for their time and dedication.
There is also a request from our Treasurer, Pradeep Kapadia, to send in donations/alumni dues. In the past there really hasn’t been an active campaign to raise money for the Association and things have been pretty much operating at a modest level. But at this time there are a number of upgrades to the website we’d like to perform and also plan a modest budget for the next reunion. Typically, the reunion hosts have absorbed expenses on their own and we’d like to avoid that practice in the future. Sharon Taylor Baumann has been emailing asking people to send in their dues – the response has been great with donations ranging from $50 to $500 being committed! Just send in whatever you want, all contributions will be greatly appreciated. Read more about this below including details on where to send the cheques/checks!
After writing the “Brut” article and the power of the sense of smell, Lori Fredenberg has received some interesting comments (Heard on the Web). From that thought, she puts forth an interesting question for us to ponder: What do we still have tucked away from back in the days of P.F. and L.R (other than precious memories, of course)? If anyone would be so bold and honest to share some insight into this question I suspect it would make for interesting reading, discussion and fun! I promise to keep any submissions anonymous as requested.
Keep an eye on the website as the photos from the Como Reunion are being sorted and should be posted soon. Finally, to get everyone in the spirit of planning for the upcoming reunion Summer 2007, travel information about Banff is attached. If you have any announcements you’d like to share in the Newsletter – births, deaths, marriages, divorces, travel plans, please send them in. I also look forward to hearing from people especially if they want to send photos, articles or comments for the newsletter. I hope that all is well with everyone and their families.
Pres Fleuris/Les Roches 1958-1961
Last year I attended a class reunion of my Bermuda school and that inspired me to start looking for anything to do with Pres Fleuris/Les Roches. Two things happened recently – the finding of the above mentioned letters containing a great deal of detail and the finding of my address book from that time. Some of the addresses are written in the handwriting of my friends from that time!
I am now trying, via the wonders of the internet, to find the students and teachers of the 1958-1961 timeframe. I have had quite a bit of success so far, but I have many more people to find. Recently I found an old friend when I found that her 93 year old father was still living at the address from 1961! I spoke to him first only to discover that she was living with him looking after him! What a chat we had! The really interesting thing was that she and several other family members were the next day going to take their father on a trip to Europe where they were going to visit the place where the family had lived while she and her siblings were attending Pres Fleuris/Les Roches. I have unfortunately recently found a former classmate’s memorial – William P. MacLean III. He was the sort of person who I knew would go far so I entered his name in “Google” and sure enough his name was there, but with sad news.
If there are any alumni reading this who would be willing to help me in my search in their home country, please contact me by e-mail with Pres Fleuris/Les Roches as the subject line. My aim is to find as many people as possible prior to the next reunion in 2007. Once I find them I will encourage them to sign on to the web site and go to the reunion in 2007.
Prior to starting this search I was still in touch with two of my friends from Pres Fleuris but had lost touch with others over the years.
The “Running” Tradition Continues
Other Memories of Como:
Bulletin: The Interactive Alumni Database has been substantially improved. Now you can get an ID number that will let you change your own record, plus you can easily search the database for individuals. Check it out!
“See that woman in the blue suit?” Guy nodded in the direction of the blond skier.
“Oui, Guy, je la vois.”
“That is a woman for you. Beautiful, sophisticated and elegant.”
I remained silent and watched her carefully maneuver her skis to get at the tail end of the line where we were located.
“Now is your chance, mon vieux, I’ll get out of the way and you share the T-bar with her. Profitez de l’opportunite!”
I did not have a girlfriend at Pres Fleuris. Very few of us did. Sex was always on every male student’s mind. So, an opportunity to meet a woman that was not part of our structured and quasi-Puritan existence at Les Roches, was rare indeed.
The skier with the golden hair stopped in front of us. Guy cracked his traditional mischievous grin before retreating and I was suddenly in the presence of beauty. Her skin was Nordic white and the face finely chiseled with a prominent but attractive nose that made me stare at her face. She had blue eyes that were brighter than the Alpine sky and the aroma of her perfume gently entered my nostrils.
She raised her head from looking at her skis and fixed her gaze at me. I felt a twitch at the back of my neck and I fell instantly in love. To me she was perfect in every way and all I wanted was for God to let me have her.
“Bonjour,” she said in a Swiss-German accent. Her lips were full and her teeth incredibly white.
“Bonjour, I replied.
We started to move down the line toward the T-bars that could support two skiers each. She asked me if I came from the Valais and I told her that I was a student attending Les Roches, and that I was half-French and half-American, hoping that she would be impressed.
I asked her if she would share the T-bar with me and she cheerfully accepted. I silently thanked the Lord and hoped that my luck would continue to bear fruit.
She introduced herself and removed her right mitten to clasp my hand. Her grip was strong and her flesh felt warm. We seized the T-bar and moved our skis onto the tracks and felt the pull of the bar on our backsides. We chatted amicably on our way up the mountain and she told me that she was from the city of Zug in the small canton of Zug and was in Crans on holiday. I told her a little about Les Roches, and myself and she responded that she was studying to be a beautician in her hometown. She also told me that she was alone, without parents or any kind of chaperon.
We spent the afternoon skiing together and I was able to steal away some time to have a coffee with her at a tavern before the ski bus left to take us back to our monastic life in Bluche. We became engrossed with each other and youth full love and lust plunged us immediately into obsession.
“Can you come to my hotel room tonight to see me?” her gorgeous face beckoned.
Her request took me by surprise and the power of arousal within me became intoxicating. How could I say no? But how in the hell could I successfully escape from Pavilion A and return before reveillon? The Grazotti brothers frequently checked the rooms to make sure that we were asleep in our beds and most ominously, Clivaz’s uncompromising wrath toward students who violated the rules were well known and feared by many. The penalty for doing the “mur”, (AWOL), was usually met with swift expulsion after a verbal lashing and sometimes, including corporal punishment for defying the master’s laws. On many occasions a lot of us saw red faces and messed-up hair and shirts on students after a visit to the lord’s dreaded office for some infraction. It was not in my nature at the time to disobey the rules of the school and I was considered by some, as a favorite of Clivaz, so to risk such a venture was completely against my nature.
“I will come sometime after midnight,” I replied, uncertain how I was going to accomplish this adventure. Gaby gave me the name of the hotel and her room number and we returned to our respective lodgings.
I spent the evening plotting and keeping my plans a secret from my roommates. My room was on the second floor in the great chalet near the stairs where the fire escape was located. The hours passed with agonizing slowness. With every passing moment–through study hall, dinner and more study hall, my mind raced with anticipation and anxiety.
It was customary to set your clothes aside for the next day on your chair. Fortunately our school dress code was dark blue. Therefore, I had set aside my corduroys, socks, sweater, shirt and shoes extra close to my bunk and laid awake waiting for the moment to make my move.
Luckily, my two roommates fell soundly asleep at an early hour but I just stared at the ceiling or watched the clock on my night table as it cliqued the minutes away. Finally, the witching hour had arrived and I quietly slipped on my clothes over my pajamas. I tiptoed my way toward the door as the old chalet wood floor creaked. I carefully opened the door and made my way into the dark hall lit only by those tiny aluminous European light switches that one has to hit in order for the light to go on. There, in front of me was the stairwell window that gave access to the iron fire escape.
I turned the handle and opened the window and stepped on to the stairs, closing the window behind me and praying that I would not discover it bolted upon my return. My heart raced but my mind remained perfectly clear. I felt like a commando clad in black on a night raid.
When I reached the bottom of the fire escape I turned to gaze at the side of the chalet to make sure no one was watching. A half moon was slightly shrouded by swift moving clouds, providing sufficient visibility but shielding my movements. I darted from tree to tree, halting only long enough to see if there was anybody about and to visibly plot my next move. I made my way across the road near Petit Paradis and located the foot trail that led up the mountain toward Montana/Crans.
The air was fresh and there was no breeze. I moved at a fast clip climbing the twisted alpine path while my heart pounded and I watched my breath make thin clouds in front of my face. The track skirted a small ancient cemetery in a clearing. I have seen this burial place many times before but only during the day. Now, at night, in winter, it looked foreboding and I hastened my pace. I was halfway past the cemetery when suddenly I heard a noise coming from the place of the dead. I turned and saw a large dog digging frantically away at the hard ground as the beast breathed heavily. I stopped and the canine stared at me with red eyes and flashed his fangs. To me he looked like Satan and I wondered if he was feasting on a freshly dug grave, or merely burying a bone. Hoping the dog would not chase me, I quickly resumed my climb.
I arrived in Crans at almost one o’clock and walked the rest of the way along side of the road watching for the police. I arrived at the hotel and held a fifty-franc note in my fist in case I had to bribe my way into the hotel. As I had expected, the front door was locked but the night desk clerk was at his station. My hands felt clammy as I clutched the currency note and rang the buzzer. I dreaded that the clerk would interrogate me and deny me entry and worse, call Clivaz!
My fears proved to be unjustified, however. The man let me in and I pretended to be a guest as my eyes searched for the elevators. I was concerned that if I took too long to locate the lifts he would know that I was not a guest and throw me out. What a tragedy to come this far at such risk to be stopped by a minor hotel clerk.
My luck held and I found the elevators and pushed the floor button. I quietly thanked God as I watched the door close. I then stared at the floor lights above the door and waited for the elevator to reach its destination.
The elevator halted at the appropriate level and I searched for Gaby’s room. All of a sudden, I became stricken with apprehension. What if she would not answer the door? Suppose she fell fast asleep? How hard could I knock without awaking other guests and creating a potential scene? I tapped my knuckles gently on the door and waited while my adrenaline soared.
The door opened and there was Gaby standing in the threshold dressed in a blue nightgown. The soft light of the half-moon pouring from the big window silhouetted her body and I thought I had come upon a medieval setting.
“je suis content que tu as venu,” she smiled, taking my hand and towing me into her chamber.
I will not reveal what happened during the course of that evening but it was one of those moments that one cherishes for life.
I made it back to my room an hour before reveillon. No one knew anything or saw me escape and return but I was dog-tired for the whole day.
Right before dinner the dreaded loud speaker crackled and Clivaz’s authoritarian voice blasted from the speakers. The microphone from the master’s lair had been silent the whole day, giving me a false sense of security but when I heard my name called I knew I was doomed.
My chest heaved with dread when I knocked on the door of Clivaz’s bureau. There was an agonizing pause before I heard him say, “entrez!”
I humbly walked in and stood at attention in front of his massive desk while he was on the phone, barking instructions to some business peon.
He finally terminated his conversation and lit a cigarette while there was still a smoldering butt in his gigantic ashtray.
“I know where you were last night,” he stated in French, pointing the cigarette at me as if it was a stick and speaking in a tone of voice that reminded me of a film noir detective. I stood in silence and braced myself for the next level of torture. “Because I am fond of your mother and you have been here for some time now, I will let this go. But if your little conquest would have been a Pres Fleuris girl, you would be packing your bags.”
“Oui, M. Clivaz, merci M. Clivaz,” I responded meekly, but feeling much relieved that the master had granted me mercy.
“However, if you do this again, I will not show you leniency. Tu comprends?”
Like a chastised medieval page, I verbally submitted to his demands and left his office. Little did I know at the time that this was not going to be my last night adventure!
Study Abroad Opportunities
Who Wants to House Swap?
For security reasons, none of this information will appear on the website and those interested would need to contact me by email. I can then put the interested parties together.
Look forward to hearing from you.
New Alumni Finds – Update from Annette Cooper White, 1958-61
Heard On The Web
Paul Wirth wrote
En francais Paul Wirth en Suisse ecrit…
Marie Torkehagen Phillips writes …..
Marti Boone Mattia writes……
Sharon Taylor Baumann writes ……..
Eric Chamchoum, PhD writes …..
Les Roches Hotel Management School
Bask in the beauty of Banff
They call it God’s country. For Texans seeking snow, a trip to Banff, Alberta, Canada is a stunner – for several reasons.
Lake Louise, a body of glacier-fed water, turquoise and green in color, was discovered in the 1870s by engineers constructing the trans-Canada railway. The Canadian Pacific Railway built log cabins along the way to house railway workers, which over the years were expanded, remodeled and elaborated.
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