No one really knew how old the Hotel De Marceau was, all people knew was that here about forty miles on the outskirts of Paris, was a hotel that was not a flee bag, nor was it overly priced either. The De Marceau was described as an affordable place to stay, with good rooms, great food and convenience to Paris.
For me, it was a chance to see France and learn about some of the places my father had told me about. My father had been in the Army during World War Two, and had landed at Normandy in 1944. He didn't talk much about the war, but he told me about places and the people. He had met mom in France and if he had his way, he would have stayed.
So here I was, twenty-three years old, taking a year off from college to try and find myself, and find out about the world. I had just started to unpack my bags, as I heard a repeated knocking on my door. I walked over, and as I was about to open the door, it swung open. A tall gentleman, in a gray tweed suit with neatly trimmed silver hair flung open the door.
"Pardon moi monsieur, there has been a terrible mistake, you were given the wrong room, this room is reserved for a monsieur Diamond...."
As politely as I could be I interrupted this man, whom only moments before had given me this room.
"I am Monsieur Diamond, Michael Diamond, you personally gave me the keys to this room, only ten minutes ago."
The man stood silent, his face contorted and he slapped his forehead as if he had been hit by the local train.
"Monsieur Diamond, I am sorry. I was under the impression... I had thought that Monsieur Antoine Diamond was coming to stay, he has visited us many times since the war."
"You mean my father Anthony Michael Diamond, who was part of the fifth army during World War Two?"
The gentleman, looked hard at me, his face lightened and he smiled warmly.
"You, do look a great deal like Antoine. I ... the mistake was mine, Monsieur. I will let the staff know, so no other mistakes take place. Welcome to the De Marceau, and may you have a present stay"
The next day I began to explore, being an American, I struggled trying to figure out how to get from where I was staying in Rouen's, to get to Paris. I soon discovered that any of the staff here, would provide me with tips to avoid going the wrong direction, and not getting caught up with the scoundrels of the area.
After a long day in Paris, I came back to the De Marceau, and found not just a wonderful meal, but people who were perhaps some of the greatest story tellers.
I had finished my wine, and was about to have an evening coffee in the living room, as grandma entered. No one knew grandma's name, she was just grandma, and she looked the part. Silver gray hair in a bun, half moon glasses, and piercing green eyes, she had wrinkles that looked like lakes cut into a marsh land. Her English was broken, but she could speak well enough that you could understand her.
"Your father, 'e was a brave man, very brave. And what a lover too. "
"You knew my father?"
"Many 'ere did. He helped liberate this city from the Bosch, the Germans."
Grandma, spat as she had said the word Germans, her eyes filled with a hate that seemed to run deep.
"No German is allowed to stay here, why I have lived here since I was a child, this... this. this 'otel goes back to Napoleon, and my family was here then too. The little Corporal, there was nothing little about him. Why the stories, my mother would tell. But, you, monsieur Michael, how are you doing? "
"So far, it has been an interesting stay. Is it true that during the war, that the German, S.S. used this hotel as a headquarters?"
"Baaa, the Germans! I spit on all Germans, the evil they did. It was men like your fa-ther whom we respect."
I realized that Grandma would not be of help. As I had toured today, I realized how history was everywhere. I wanted to know so much about what had happened when my father had been here, yet it seemed the more that I tried to find answers, the more resistance I came across.
"Grandma, be polite, this young man simply has an interest in the history that his father faced."
A young man had entered the room, he was maybe a foot taller than I, and had soft orange hair, he was trim and athletic and seemed full of joy.
"He can learn about the Bosch at libraries. Besides, he is young, he should be out with Rose, or Marie, or Nancy, but he is a hermit, wanting to learn about the past."
"Whom, are Rose, Marie, and Nancy?"
The young man smiled, he walked over to where I was standing, near the fire place.
"They are my sisters, grandma, is always trying to set them up with an eligible bachelor."
"And I am also trying to find you, and your three brothers matches,so grandpa and I can finally have some time to ourselves."
"Some things are the same no matter where one goes. My mother keeps trying to set me up. If you will excuse me, I think I will make it an early evening.
End of Part One.