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The Big Flood of 69

Ahmed Ben Smaan, aka Jeannot, Saint-Denis, retired police patrolman. Interviewed on September 17, 1992.

"I remember the Seine river being so high, and that my father kept talking about the 1910 flood, because he had vivid memories of that event, better memories than the ones he had from the two wars put together. I remember the people being happy, they didn't have to work, you know, like somebody had just given them a break. The patrolmen we had to watch the embankments, for accidents or suicide attempts. Some lunatics were just attracted by this much water, did crazy things you know. The River Brigade was somewhat angry, because they said we took their job, but the Préfet said, the embankments are Police Jurisdiction, with or without water on it. Well, one afternoon I was walking down to the Alex the Third Bridge, and I see this little kid, with a red cap just like Jacques Cousteau, standing on a parapet in the middle of the water. The kid didn't move, he was turned into a salt statue like this woman in the Bible. I called him out, he wouldn't budge, wouldn't move a toe. No parents around, nobody around in fact. I call and call, ask his name, "", he cries, what sort of name is that anyway? It took me two hours to bring him safe on shore, two hours freezing ourselves to pneumonia. You know what? I got a medal for that, because some photographers happened to be there when it was almost over and put me on front page. ? The ingrate brat disappeared as soon as he was safe. Never heard of that kid again."

Gilles Tran © 2001 www.oyonale.com