Paris – An Amazing, High Definition Virtual Tour

I lived just outside of Paris, in Louveciennes (southwest of Paris), from September 1968 to August 1969 and went to school at the ‘English School of Paris‘. It was a fun school. During the year that I attended, it was famous for three things. The Basset Hound that was being used in the ‘Hush Puppies‘ advertisements, Cleopatra, belonged to the Bursar of the School, and came to school each day. The legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker’s son, Charlie Parker Jr., was a student there. He and I, though three years older than me, became fast buddies and we got into a whole bunch of mischief in and around Paris. We were BAD! Then there was Dr. Mike Rees, a NASA physicist on a sabbatical in Paris – who taught me physics. What a man. A very low key, unassuming, black gentleman. He changed my life, irrevocably.

Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, the father.

In 1968, realizing that my eyesight precluded me from becoming a commercial airline pilot, I had my heart set on becoming a high flying aeronautical engineer. There were only 2 of us doing physics at the school that year. So it was like private tuition. So, Dr. Rees, obviously, heard about my aspirations to become an aeronautical engineer. Working for NASA he knew a thing or two about the industry. He asked me if I knew about computers. I had heard of them but had never seen one. Towards the end of the Summer term in 1969 he sent a not home to my parents. He wanted to visit us at our apartment. My parents, noted for their hospitality, immediately invited him for dinner. They were not sure why he wanted to meet with them. I was somewhat nervous. Though I did well at school I was constantly in trouble and was to be soon expelled from that school (the first of my two expulsions) — this time because I refused to get my haircut for the forthcoming prize giving! Dr. Rees came to dinner and told my father: ‘computers are the future. Anura wants to do aeronautics. Try and get him into computers instead’. That changed my life. In hindsight I wish I had attended that prize giving. I got 3 prizes: for English, math and physics — the one for English cracking me up since there were all these British and American kids at the school, and me, a heathen, was getting the prize for English! The lady giving out the prizes was Lady SoamesChurchill’s daughter. I was 16. I knew of Churchill (though in those days history wasn’t something that interested me). I had seen a film, a few years earlier, before we left Ceylon, on Churchill’s funeral. But, at 16, I was not going to get my hair cut just to attend a prize giving. My parents went and collected my three prizes and had a nice chat with Lady Soames.

My parents moved back to Paris in 1978 and lived there till August 1992 — my mother dying in Paris. During those years they lived close to the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides. So the scene shown below reminds me of all the time I spent in Paris, with my parents, during their long stay in Paris. My father worked for UNESCO and was then the Sri Lankan Ambassador to France.

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Click image for a rewarding experience of beautiful, incomparable Paris.

2 Comments

  1. Jocelyn Richard-Livingstone

    I was also in the English School of Paris. It is so strange that I came across your site today because I was thinking of Charlie Parker and Cleo just last night. I was remembering how Charlie, who sat in front of me, would always tell me jokes during class, I would laugh and get in trouble. I remember Cleo going in and out of the classrooms and sitting in front of the heaters. I also remember her visiting all the students sitting on the steps during lunch. I was at the school from 1967-70. I loved it there. In fact, it was the first year I loved school. I remember the issue around the kid who wouldn’t cut his hair and so that was you.

    I am Canadian and my name was then Jocelyn Boucher. I had 2 sisters in the school. My friends were Sharon Dudley and Yvonne Quarles. It sounds like you were younger than me. I ended up being an ordained miniter for the United Church of Canada and worked also in the USA for 8 years with the United Church of Christ. I left ministry and I am now working with Habitat for Humanity in Ottawa, Ontario.

    • I am so thrilled to hear from you. Thank You.
      So I was there from Sept. 1968 to May 1969 — before I got expelled, about 2 weeks before the end of term, for refusing to get my hair cut. Do you remember Mrs. Soames coming to present the prizes in 1969? Yes, Churchill’s daughter. I think I was to get at least 3 prizes. One was for English — which cracked me up. I refused to get my hair-cut for the prize-giving. The Bursar, Cleo’s owner, expelled me. My parents went to the prize giving. At 15 Mrs. Soames meant nothing to me. Since then I have become a HUGE Churchill fan. Yes, I would like to have said I received 3 prizes from Mrs. Soames.
      So funny hearing from you. I think it is fate. JUST yesterday, during a 3 hour round-trip to Dartmouth College (for a performance), I was thinking on contacting Charlie. I actually have some leads.
      I must have known you. Do you remember, I think her last name was ‘Mills’? Her father worked for IBM.
      I remember two Canadian boys, reprobates both. Dale? Did you know them. I used to go to their place a lot.
      Your parents must have been working in Paris.
      There is a NAME that if you could help me with, I would be SO delighted. The black Physics teacher from the U.S. On sabbatical from NASA. He changed my life. He came to our house one evening to tell my parents, and this was 1968, that they had to get me into computers! I really didn’t have any clue about computers. I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. He was right. In the mid-1970s the aerospace complex took a huge hit while computers took off. I am here because of hum. I am so bad with names. I think his name was ‘Mike Rees’ or ‘Mike Reeves’. I have been trying to find him on the Web using his NASA connection.
      Jocelyn, this is NOT one of my regular blogs. This is: http://nhlife.wordpress.com/
      I blog there daily. [Have a whole section devoted to Canada’s Remembrance Day! You will see. Helping out a 85-year old lady from ON who found me on the Web]
      Interested to hear about when you were minister. Though I thank God everyday for making me into an atheist (which is not hard when you are born a Buddhist) I went onto become a papal expert! Written 7 (I think) books on popes and will start another next week.
      My e-mail is: anu@wownh.com.
      Do you ever make it to NH? Love to meet you.
      You can find more about me at wownh.com & guruge.com
      In September I turn 60. Have 4 kids ranging from 24 to 7, a wife and 2 goldens.
      Keep in touch. All the best. YOU made my day.
      Cheers, Anura

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