December 2, 1944
No. 70 (continued)
Next A.M. off we were again, pounding the poor little jeep for all she was worth. And then we find that the bloomin’ Rhone has pulled a “Mississippi” and overflowed at just some of the points we wanted to transverse — so naturally the detours held us up quite a little. And, as luck would have it, on one of the detours of the detour, a very little-traveled route, bingo, there went a tire!! Then the Col. was extra glad that I was along to change the tire, but as luck would have it again, two of the nuts on the wheel were pretty well frozen on and the wrench we had was rather old and worn and we soon found that all it did was slip around the bolts and was doing absolutely no good at all. It was quite a while before we could find an American vehicle driving by that had a wrench that would fit the jeep wheel. Finally, we did get it off and the spare on, but we were considerably behind the schedule we had set for ourselves.
Got to Lyon, got a new tire, got some gas and managed to find Jean-Pierre’s address with ease. The plan was that the Col. was going on further to visit friends of his near where we originally set up a couple of months ago, and then he would return for me and we would go to Grenoble and then back home here.
By the time I had climbed to Jean-Pierre’s apartment on the 6th floor, I was pretty much out of breath and about all I was able to gasp when J.P. opened the door was, “Jean-Pierre ——— René!” Tho’ he hadn’t climbed any stairs, he too became a bit out of breath and so we continued gasping and gasping!
Without giving a blow-by-blow report, I shall in a second give you all the details for which you are undoubtedly waiting – for which all of us have been waiting for a few years now as a matter of fact. Suffice it to say that I was able to stay with J.P. and Doude for a full 2-1/2 hours.
Jean-Pierre is thin, his face is thin and his cheek-bones stand out considerably. He wears glasses, as he apparently has for many a year. Despite his thinness he is apparently in good health and has had very little trouble as far as health is concerned throughout any of the past years. When in the French Army he had been wounded and spent a couple of months in the hospital, but he recovered perfectly O.K. from that.
During the past couple of years he has been in and around Lyon for the most part but has, of necessity, not had the same address that you know about, Alain, nor has he, until the last few months, had his own name. He had the same name of someone else who was a friend and who actually existed in a different part of the country. Somehow, he managed to get by, even tho’ his credentials were challenged many a time. The only kind of business that was safe for him, as for others of the same faith, was that of traveling salesman, selling various articles on a commission basis, for manufacturing houses.
In that way, when the Gestapo was investigating a bit too closely, they had good reason to be traveling to other parts, which they promptly did. Train travel, however, in certain parts, was equally dangerous because there were those inspectors who decided that a person was a Jew by his features and circumcision and didn’t give a hoot about their credentials. Both Jean Pierre and his father George had been taken more than once, but somehow had talked their ways out of imprisonment at the time, tho’ they made haste to get out of those particular areas.
Early in the game, soon after Jean Pierre married Doude, he tried to get out of the country to get to Africa to join the Free-French forces there. But, despite the fact that he got one mile inside of Spain, he and the rest of his comrades were unable to go further, as their guide disappeared on them when they saw a bunch of others who had tried to get away into Spain being led back to the French border by German Gestapo men. Later on, the cost for escape that way was too exorbitant for him to make it. (Incidentally, Dad, he tells of having written to you soon after Alain had left, in 1941, asking if ‘twere possible for you to get him to the U.S. Didn’t think we ever got that letter. And, too, that is the one wish that J.P. and Doude have for whenever the war is over over here – they want to join Alain in New York or somewhere in the U.S.)
Loads of love,