Interview for the Ecomusée du Val de Bièvres
"The Morali Sisters in Fresnes"
Exposition Pieds noirs ici, la tête ailleurs Date : Thursday 27 July 2011
Place: Blancs Bouleaux School
Interviewer: Alexandre Delarge
Inventory number : 2011.11
Alexandre: So, this is an interview with Brigitte and Betty Morali, well, who have changed their last names but were Morali. Brigitte: That’s exactly right.
Alexandre: Carli and Venot. So let’s start. I would be interested to hear about is your experience of … So, you’re actually both pieds-noirs because you were born over there? Betty: Oh well yes, and our whole childhood, we were, you know, our parents -
Brigitte: brought up with pieds-noirs.
Betty: brought up with pieds-noirs, first of all, at Toit et Joie [apartment block in Fresnes] and then our parent always talked to us about Algeria, the event [les événements]. Actually, my parents were at least 30 years old when they left, we knew Algeria without ever having gone there, if you like.
Brigitte: We were raised by pieds-noirs, all the time, we had pieds-noirs friends the whole time.
Betty: My father, he worked at the post office -
Brigitte: At the Louvre
Betty: No, that’s in Paris. He worked in the post office in Algeria, at the grande poste, Dad, he worked at the grande poste.
Alexandre: Where was that, in Algiers ? Betty: In Algiers, my parents lived in the – what’s it called – the ‘Trois Horloge’ neighbourhood, in the suburb with the old windmills. We were born in Bab el Oued. They you go, we knew Algeria, the road, the names, through Dad – Mum, our grandparents, our aunts, because they came to France, but they never forgot Algeria. And they found Algeria again thanks to all the pieds-noirs that they met at Toit et Joie.
Alexandre: You mean that they met – they recreated Algeria here a little bit! Betty: Well yes
Brigitte: They lived like that
Betty: There were families of every …
Brigitte: families of every race …
Betty: families of all origins, of all religions, all the religions who would meet up whenever it was a family party, we went to that family. And in Toit et Joie, when they came to Toit et Joie with the association which was made by the ‘Amicale’ (club), they met with all that, my parents and us. We re-experienced it a bit in France as if it was in Algeria, as it were.
Alexandre: Okay. Betty: On that note, all the directors – all the people who were – what’s it called – at the level of the Toit et Joie Amicale, they were all pieds-noirs. Most of them. Mr Ecoffet will tell you.
Alexandre: At the start, yes, it was like that. Betty: Absolutely it was just that, and after there were other families who came, of course, but it was still really a building where everyone helped each other, all the time …
Brigitte: Then, once in Fresnes, they caled us the pieds-noirs …
Betty: Oh well, my mother on the other hand, she suffered from that a bit.
Alexandre: From what ? Betty: “Go back to you country” !
Alexandre: Oh yeah. Betty: “You’re not French”
Alexandre: Ah, they said that to her Betty: Oh yeah, my mother had a rough time of it.
Alexandre: What did you mother do ? Betty: Well, my mother looked after the children you know.
Alexandre: She was a nursery assistant, maybe that wasn’t the word for it ! Betty: Nursey assistant, but I mean, it was still the countryside in Fresnes in the ‘60s. Toit et Joie wasn’t completely built, there was a bit of the Clos la Garenne, there wasn’t the Thibaudes, there wasn’t a lot of the buildings, it was really – we really knew it when it was fields.
Brigitte: The countryside.
Betty: We went to pick potatoes in summer on Avenue Edouard Herriot where there was a group of buildings and where the famous industrial zone is being built now.
Brigitte: They were potato fields.
Betty: They were potato fields, where we picked potatoes, and so there you go, we knew the old Fresnes.
Brigitte: And the mayor was very nice to the pieds-noirs.
Betty: Oh yes.
Brigitte: They helped with lots of things, they explained to us all the documentation, everything.
Alexandre: And going back, where does your family come from ? Brigitte: Our parents are Israelites.
Alexandre: But from where ? Apart form Israel obviously. Brigitte: Well, there’s a real mix in our family, because we realised, when Dad died about 10 years ago, we realised that were Greeks, there were French, Italians.
Alexandre: In your family, you mean ? Betty: Yeah, on our Dad’s side. There’re Greeks, Italians, even some French people, French familes. We don’t know how they – you know, when you draw your family tree it’s not always easy to find – so we saw all the same, we could bring it to you, if …
Alexandre: Anyway, you didn’t know, so actually, you never spoke about it with your father, it was after his death that you found out?Betty: Yes
Alexandre: So your father didn’t talk about his grandparents. Betty: No, because Mum and Dad’s grandparents were all in Algeria.
Alexandre: Everyone was in Algeria then ! Betty: If you like. The father of my father, well, and his grandfather, they were in the war of ’39 and ’14-18. There was the war but they were in Algeria, they weren’t in France.
Alexandre: Okay, and so do you know for how long the family was in Algeria? Betty: Oh well.
Brigitte: Since always
Betty: Since always I think.
Alexandre: Since always, well no, you said there were Greeks in the family sot hey weren’t always in Algeria. Betty: Yes, but we never found out at what point they arrived in Algeria.
Betty: We did Dad’s family tree how long ago? When he died 10 years ago.
Alexandre: And why, because it was written down that he was Greek, I mean he had a Greek family name, like Théodopolos Betty: No, no, Dad was called Claude. No, it was one of my Dad’s cousins who said “Look I went back in …”, We hadn’t thought of doing it. Did her give us the sheet? We have it, I kept it.
Brigitte: I kept it as well.
Betty: But it’s true, I don’t know when they were in Algeria, well, we can see it from the dates. Because from this year to that year, they put all that down.
Brigitte: Yes, because there’s only Auntie who was in France because she got married, she left for France, but they all lived in Algeria, that’s true.
Betty: Mum’s sister.
Brigitte: Yeah, mum’s sister.
Betty: Yes, but it’s not the same, it’s about Dad’s side.
Alexandre: It’s the same generation. But the generation before that, who did you know ? Your grandparents, your great-grandparents ? Brigitte: No
Betty: No but they were in Algeria
Alexandre: They stayed there after 1962 ?Brigitte: They were dead, they were all dead my grandparents’ parents.
Alexandre: Yes, your grandparents’ parents, but your grandparents ? Brigitte: Ah well yes.
Betty: No, they left and moved into Toit et Joie
Alexandre: As well ! Betty: They came to Toit et Joie, my grandfather, my grandmother, and afterwards my aunt, my Mum’s sister, lived in Paris, lost her husband and they left to live with her in Paris. But at the start I had my maternal grandparents who lived with us Toit et Joie.
Alexandre: And your paternal grandparents ? Betty: So, my paternal grandparents left to live in the Midi, with my father’s sisters in Toulon, in Marseille and all the rest of the family. They were in the Yvelines in Houilles, near there.
Alexandre: In Houilles Betty: Yes, next to Sartrouville
Alexandre: pourquoi ils ont été là-bas ? Betty: Well, it turned out that they ended up there, for us it was through out father, through the postal service, we should have gone to Nice.
Brigitte: At first, we had to go to Nice.
Betty: And mum refused because her whole family were in Paris. We arrived, we were repatriated to Paris. We didn’t have housing, we lived with my grandmother, who was in a 2 bed apartment with 4 children – there’s 4 of us with my parents, and her, she had two children, you know!
Brigitte: For six months -
Betty: For six months -
Alexandre: Because your grandmother arrived – she left Algeria before you then? Betty: Exactly, she left four months before us. She moved in with her daughter who is, well, if you want, it’s complicated. She had her son, she had two daughters in Paris. One who had always lived in France, who had even known the war, and when we were repatriated she welcomed everyone.
Alexandre: In Paris Betty: In Paris, exactly, and so afterwards my father, he had his, his, through the postal service, he got Toit et Joie. At first, we should have moved ot Nice and Mum refused, in order to be with her sister, so we found ourselves in Paris, and we arrived in -
Brigitte: - ‘62
Betty: - ‘62, in what month ? I don’t know what month it was, I can’t remember anymore. We should ask our aunts, they would tell us, they would remember, because they’re all still alive.
Alexandre: The specific months are quite important for that year. Betty: Yeah, I’ll ask Mum.
Alexandre: It’s ’62, you know ! Betty: Definitely ’62.
Alexandre: And here, in Toit et Joie, when did you get here, do you know ? Betty: Ah, I’ll have to ask, I’ll have to work at Mum and Dad’s paperwork, I still have the documents at home, ah, it’s hard to go back to all of that, we don’t have our parents anymore.
Alexandre: Have they both passed away ? Betty: We lost Mum, we lost Dad 10 years ago and Mum 3 years ago. You know, I come back to Fresnes for my work. But I’m digressing, but I don’t come through since Mum died. We live in Toit et Joie our whole childhood, she had to close up the apartment in Toit et Joie …
Brigitte: Yeah, it’s difficult for us.
Alexandre: Three years ago ? Betty: Three years ago.
Brigitte: But she lived in Toit et Joie since 1962?
Betty: Mum never left
Brigitte: Exactly. It was difficult for us, when you have to empty the house, then, all the neighbours, how they. And in both instances, when they died, the mayor came to our house, you know!
Betty: Oh yes, we’ve always been known in Fresnes, for ever.
Brigitte: We’ve known three mayors.
Betty: He took on – how to put it – he was part of the Toit et Joie Amicale, well after, there was ….
Brigitte: He was President of the boules club
Betty: He was President of the boules club in front of Toit et Joie, so, it was my Dad who looked after all that. So you know, Dad, he was well-known by the Mayor of Fresnes, but he was a very discrete person, you know. He did his thing, he didn’t go about everywhere, he was very reserved. I mean, so for us, Toit et Joie is, even the mayor, the people in the mayor’s office, well now, it’s changed again, but all the older people in Fresnes, we know them all. So there you go, apart from work. We go home. I’m actually very happy to not live in Fresnes anymore, I admit that I couldn’t do it anymore.
Alexandre: Oh yeah ! Betty: Oh it’s too hard, it’s our whole childhood.
Alexandre: When did you leave ? Brigitte: For it’s been 10 years.
Betty: It’s been 5 years for me.
Brigitte: I had built …
Betty: And even before, I had left for the Yvelines, but you know I came back.
Alexandre: No, but when did you leave Toit et Joie? Betty: Oh for me, in 1982 when I got married.
Brigitte: Me too, in 1982, in May
Betty: we both got married in ‘82
Brigitte: Me in May, her in December.
Betty: Actually, we went to Toit et Joie every day, you know !
Alexandre: To see you parents, your mother ? Betty: yes, to see mum and dad.
Alexandre: Because you’ve always worked here? Betty: We’ve always, well, I left for the Yvelines for 6 years. I got married in Fresnes, I left afterwards for 6 years and I came back. Because I had twins and my husband became very ill so I came back to Fresnes. I lived with my parents and then I got housing in Fresnes, -
Brigitte: In ‘la poterne’.
Betty: In ‘la poterne’.
Alexandre: Yeah.Betty: I stayed, only left five years ago, I left and bought a house.
Alexandre: Okay.Brigitte: Yeah, we left Toit et Joie in ’82, because we got married. And I lived opposite Toit et Joie in the Gémeaux.
Betty: - in the Gémeaux.
Brigitte: Opposite, I crossed the street.
Alexandre: You mean, between the time that you left your, because you said that you left when you got married ? Brigitte: Yes, in ’82 I left Toit and Joie and went to the Gémeaux which is opposite.
Alexandre: Okay, but you didn’t leave Fresnes straight away. Brigitte: No, no, only 10 years ago.
Alexandre: OkayBrigitte: Our children were born in Antony, they all went to school in Fresnes.
Betty: And they always played at Toit et Joie. They left where we lived to go play at Toit et Joie.
Brigitte: Exactly, like I played with all the Toit et Joie kids. Betty: And at the time, there were fewer pieds-noirs, there were a lot of Caribbean families, and more – there was a fair amount of mixing at Toit et Joie. It was better then.
Alexandre: What was different then ? Betty: In terms of damage and all that, we had some respect. We had a caretaker, Monsieur Andrieux, I still remember him, he wouldn’t let you walk on the grass, there was respect for Toit et Joie, but well, -
Brigitte: followed the rule
Betty: Well, I mean, how old were we?
Brigitte: There was a club, the young people, all the young people would get together, well.
Betty: There was loads of things for young people,
Brigitte: And there were a lot of pieds-noirs kids,
Betty: It’s what is needed in some towns need, in some areas, something for young people. When we say that sometimes, the youth, but well, I think that it’s also important to listen to young people, to see what they can do during the summer holidays. Well, I know it’s not easy, you have to have the budget to do that and everything but I think it’s important.
Alexandre: Wasn’t there money at the time ? Betty: There wasn’t a budget but we tried to go on trips, things with the Amicale.
Brigitte: There were families with a lot of children, with 4 or 5 children, and so we respected that, we went out, we played down stairs, we played marbles, do you remember?
Betty: And mum, she would make a cake, and we’d have it as a snack at a friend’s house, you see.
Betty: You know, with that.
Brigitte: The door was open to everyone. When she made couscous, she gave it to everyone.
Betty: Oh yeah, it was during the Jewish holidays, everyone had some cake.
Brigitte: Even my friends, they had their plate of couscous, it was like that at our place. And Madame Ecoffet, when she made something, she gave it to us, she gave us things.
Betty: There were Caribbean families, Madame Rosine, I’m still in touch with her, she used to be at Toit et Joie with us, like Monsieur Ecoffet. She still calls me “Alight girl, how are you?” and all that. Well, when my mother died, she helped us with loads of things, empty the house and everything. Well, would everyone do that now? At the moment, I don’t know but I live in a detached house (pavillon), I can tell you I feel isolated compared to Toit et Joie. They say that in detached houses people are all on their own, amongst themselves, but for me no, eh! Not where I am, I know that I’d miss it.
Alexandre: And in your opinion, it’s changed? Have you seen changes ? Betty: Well, the young people who came after at Toit et Joie, so they were still young people, it wasn’t the same. Mum, she felt it a lot. Because most of her friends, apart from Madame Rosine, Madame Sachez, Madame Ecoffet, they all left, loads of people left.
Sanchez, madame Ecoffet qui sont partis, y’ a pleins de gens qui sont partis
Brigitte: Madame Marcial,
Betty: Even the aunties, Mum felt isolated, yes, she felt a bit isolated, yes.
Brigitte: Especially, when she lost my father.
Betty: And when she lost dad.
Brigitte: There was no-one left.
Betty: There you have it.
Alexandre: Because there were fewer people than before ? Brigitte: Yeah
Betty: There were fewer people than before, and then after more young people arrived. And I understand, it’s normal that young people come, they don’t have to be mixed in with one another, but well, I don’t know, for us it changed the way of living here a bit. Well, over the years it changed.
Alexandre: So what was that life like then ? You said mixed in with one another, what do you mean ? Betty: Well I don’t know, I mean to ay
Brigitte: It was nice, it was nice.
Betty: Well, mum for example, it’s like we were saying, if we were together as a family and someone knocks on the door, it’s the neighbours who will have a coffee, ‘Oh how are you, Morali? It’s been a while since we saw you’ -
Brigitte: Even if there was family.
Betty: And even if, if it was the weekend, the neighbours would come around, chat, leave, and then we’d go to their. There you have it, it was being in contact.
Alexandre: A lot of exchanges. Betty: Oh yeah, it was great.
Brigitte: Yes, enormously.
Betty: Sincerely, for me, we had a marvellous childhood, you know!
Alexandre: Until ‘82, since then not changed that much ? Betty: Oh no, no.
Brigitte: It’s -
Betty: We left after it had changed.
Brigitte: Yes, people left, got married.
Betty: That was a change.
Brigitte: But it had nothing to do with the Amicale.
Betty: It had finished.
Brigitte: It was over.
Betty: If you like, there were – when I saw my parents. Dad died ten years ago, he was 70 years old. So, you had to still look after the Amicale. They asked young people who arrived to come and sign up to the Amicale to be able to take part. Because what was the Amicale? There were meeting, but you had to really invest in the meetings, when there was the sport day festival you had to invest in the stands. Mum, she made donuts with all her friends, had to spend money on the donuts. At the end, there was no one left who wanted to make donuts! The old-timers who used to bake donuts had all passed away. So my dad, in terms of the stands with his colleagues, there were some who would want to and others who didn’t anymore. So it dissolved away, even the summer fete, it’s not like it used to be!
Alexandre: The summe fete,why is that ? Betty: Well, all the association, all the ‘Amicales’. Before it was grand, it was …
Brigitte: Oh yes, fantastic.
Betty: We even hosed one at Toit et Joies.
Brigitte: On the Saturday and the Sunday.
Betty: We did on the Saturday and the Sunday at Toit et Joie
Brigitte: Yes, we did that with the people from Toit et Joie
Betty: Yes, with people from Toit et Joie, there were stands and everything
Brigitte: some shows
Betty: And we did … well, with Monsieur Ecoffet and all the mothers, well the mothers of the young people, they made, they held dances. They put on this show, costumes, and it was at the church at the Paroisse, uh, what is it called?
Brigitte: La grande-paroisse ?
Betty: The big church, there’s a room next to it, where we did a show.
Alexandre: Anyway, there was a room at the time. Betty: Well this room – ask Monsieur Ecoffet again, he’ll confirm it – we put on a show, we danced and everything, it was fantastic. And we distributed presented for the new year, I mean, Christmas.
Alexandre: Oh, that was for Christmas, not the summer fete ? Betty: It was Christmas, but it was fantastic! c’était noël,
Alexandre: It was the Toit et Joie fete Betty: Oh yeah.
Brigitte: There was also a club for women
Betty: Yes the women had a woman’s club
Brigitte: So they would meet up on some days in the afternoon
Betty: Thursday afternoons, they made cakes, they would chat amongst themselves
Brigitte: They did sewing and so they formed clubs
Betty: They made costumes
Brigitte: Costumes for the children
Betty: They would also organise, ‘well, I will take the children between the ages of this and that, such and such night’. We were going to dance on the stage at Toit et Joie. On the same level as the terrace, there were two small rooms, we were going to dance there, they prepared everything, oh yes, we … so if you like, we didn’t do a lot of spot, because our parents couldn’t afford it, but with everything that they organised throughout the year, we were really happy!
Brigitte: -happy, oh yeah, it was happiness.
Betty: Yeah, honestly, I’m speak for myself but it was …
Brigitte: We’ll never forget it
Betty: Oh yeah, sincerely
Brigitte: And yeah, the women like the men, it was a family. It was – I don’t know how to put it – it was a family, yeah, when we had weddings.
et puis les femmes comme les hommes c’était de la famille, c’était je ne sais pas comment vous dire, c’était de la famille, ouais, quand on faisait des mariages -
Betty: - everyone -
Brigitte: - everyone would come.
Betty: Everyone was invited.
Brigitte: When we got married, we invited everyone! It was like that.
Alexandre: There were how many flats, 800 ? ? Brigitte: Yes, but there weren’t 800 pieds-noirs. oui,
Alexandre: Oh, you only invited the pieds-noirs? Brigitte: Yes
Betty: The pieds-noirs but also other people, not only the pieds-noirs, but a large part, yes.
Alexandre: What was the atmosphere like? What’s a ‘pied-noir’ atmosphere like ? Or the Toit et Joie atmosphere ? Betty: Oh well, Toit et Joie, it was specific pieds-noirs.
Betty: Wait, there were still quite a few pieds-noirs, Monsieur Ecoffet, he said no, but there were still quite a few.
Alexandre: Yeah, he calculated that it was about a third, I believeBetty: A third, well,
Alexandre: So on person in three, one flat in three. Betty: Oh well, that’s already a few.
Alexandre: Yeah, it’s a few, but that’s not what I mean. Betty: Yes, there were other people there who weren’t pieds-noirs who came with us, I mean, we shouldn’t either -
Brigitte: yes, yes, even when we did trips, we took coaches that were full of families, you know!
Betty: Well, there was the Amicale, no, it wasn’t just pieds-noirs, there was all sorts.
Brigitte: But all those people, we went on trips, we went to visit a castle, to a restaurant, we ate out at restaurants and in the afternoon the parents would dance and the children went off to play. We were a whole family, you know, we lived in a family, with Monsieur and Madame Pétain who weren’t pieds-noirs, do you remember?
Betty: But dad and mum, they lived in a family. Toit et Joie was a family.
Brigitte: My parents, they said, they would tell us, they arrived at Toit et Joie and in Fresnes, it was hard because when you leave Algeria, you’re 30 years old, for me, I can’t imagine leaving Fresnes or Wissous at 30 and go and live in a foreign country.
Betty: Abroad, to say, because they came to France with nothing.
Brigitte: No family, nothing, they came with a suitcase, you know? They left everything behind, they didn’t have money, nothing, my parents abandoned everything, their furniture, nothing, they weren’t even compensated. They weren’t given anything, because at the start they should have, they gave them nothing. They started their life from scratch at 30 years old, like my mum would said, they rebuilt their life at the age of 30. And well, I can say hats off to them, they landed in Toit et Joie and they were delighted.
Alexandre: Yes, that’s right, it’s an advantage. Brigitte: Yes exactly.
Alexandre: And you mum, what did she do in Algeria ? Brigitte: Mum did a bit of everything as a job, she used to work in a shoe shop.
Betty: Seamstress, she did a bit of everything.
Brigitte: And then after, she had 4 children, she stopped working and my dad worked for the postal service.
Alexandre: But then she looked after the children. Betty: She was a childminder, a qualified childminder.
Alexandre: At her home? Where? Betty: At home, in her house.
Alexandre: The children came over ? Betty: Yeah
Alexandre: And you had a large house? Betty: We had a ‘F4’
Brigitte: 4 rooms
Alexandre: 4 rooms and there were 4 of you Betty: Yeah
Alexandre: So it was okay, it wasn’t too small! Betty: No, no. And then we were 2 and 2, then at Toit et Joie it was …
Brigitte: A duplex
Betty: A duplex with bedrooms downstiars, then you know at the time, it’s not like now when kids have a bedroom each. We were two to a room, and we were very happy! Well, yes, it’s nothing like today, when you have three children you have three rooms.
Brigitte: And even for us, when we were little, when Cole came with Pépé, they slept in our room, we slept, I don’t know where, I don’t remember, I was two years old, we were happy with what we had.
Betty: Well, yes. We had loads of things, my dad, he was a postman so we weren’t rolling in it, but you know.
Brigitte: We always went on holiday.
Betty: We wanted for nothing. But we were happy with what we had. Obviously, compared to today … it’s nothing like kids today, it’s a joke.
Betty: They want everything.
Brigitte: Yes but we were happy.
Betty: Oh it’s obvious, we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have any of that, but I don’t wish that I had it. Honestly, if I could go back, we played with boys, we played marbles, you remember, we played marbles, in groups.
Brigitte: um, we played with carts.
Betty: It was healthy, it was …
Brigitte: Girls-boys, it was mixed, it was …
Betty: Oh yes, there was never any problem.
Alexandre:It was mixed at the school? Betty: Well
Alexandre: It was a mixed school ? Brigitte: well yes
Betty: No, when we were in primary school, it was girls to one side boys to the other.
Alexandre: No, but I think - Brigitte: I’m referring to Toit et Joie. When we were with the boys. But at school, it was girls and boys, yes, he’s right.
Alexandre: At the time, it was still separate. Betty: Yes, because our brothers were to one side. We were at ‘Maryse Bastié’, our brother on one side and we were on the girl’s side.
Brigitte: Yes, we were at ‘Maryse Bastié’ school. We went to ‘Frederic Mistral’, we went to ‘Pierre Curie’.
Alexandre: ‘Bastié’, up there, is it still there? Betty: Of course.
Alexandre: And you go all the way up there ? Betty: Of course
Alexandre: Pasteur wasn’t there yet ? Betty: We took the footbridge, there was the footbridge at the time. So we climbed over the footbridge. We were at the same nursery school, where you have the prefab buildings which are being, it’s now called ‘Charcot’, uh what is it …
Alexandre: Where they’re building … Brigitte: Opposite the BNP bank
Betty: Opposite the BNP bank, we went to this nursey, afterwards they built the Capusines, they hasn’t built the Capucines yet.
Brigitte: We didn’t go to the Capucines
Betty: We weren’t at Capucines, we were in that school there.
Alexandre: Oh yes Betty: And from there, we went to Maryse Bastié, girls side, other brothers on the boys’ side. Then, we went to ‘Pierre Curie’, it was, now it’s ‘Francine Fromont’.
Betty: ‘Pierre Curie’, then we went to ‘Mistral’ high school, we walked to school. When our own kids went to Mistral, we had to get them a metro pass, do you remember?
Alexandre: Anyway, how was it at school?Betty: Very good, but the only thing that me and my sister had … when we got back from school, I admit, people they were – they didn’t understand, if you like, the French, I mean the French who were French from here, they didn’t understand that you could be born in Algeria and be French.
Alexandre: Oh really ! Brigitte: Exactly.
Betty: So for us, we had a difficult time explaining that we were, well we were born in France, we had a French identity card, and that in 1800 and something it was recognised as French Algeria. We were French. They didn’t understand it. So, I had my parent-teacher school book – this really affected me, i’ve remembered it my whole life -
Betty: I had my parent-teacher school book. On the first page you put your name, family name, and where you were born. So we wrote Morali, Betty and then, so I put Algiers. I wrote it in pencil, as finely as possible so that it was hard to read. Because I was … they used to say that we weren’t French.
Betty: We were made to feel quite bad for it
Brigitte: At middle school
Betty: At middle school, not in primary
Brigitte: Yeah, that’s true
Alexandre: And what does that mean, to be felt bad? Betty: Well, we felt different. After, when we used to say that we were Jewish, oh Jewish, what’s that ? We felt that side, and it’s a shame. That in Toit et Joie we didn’t have that. When we went outside we mean.
Alexandre: It was your classmates ? Betty: Oh no, no, our classmates …
Alexandre: It wasn’t our teachers Betty: Not our teachers
Brigitte: The children, the children
Betty: Young people like us didn’t understand, you had to explain everything, it was exhausting.
Brigitte: now, people, everyone’s the same, you know. Alexandre: And what does that mean? Why was it for them … ? Betty: Well for them, we were foreign.
Alexandre: Okay Betty: Exactly
Brigitte: And so we …
Alexandre: And so what did they call you ? Betty: Well, they said that we were ‘pieds-noirs’, what does that mean ‘pieds-noirs’, you have black feet? Uh exactly, what does that mean?
Alexandre: Normal reaction! [LaughterBetty: Yeah, it’s normal !
Alexandre: But did you call yourselves pieds-noirs ? Brigitte: Yes
Betty: Well, we had to say that we were pieds-noirs, we were born in Algeria. We told our story, so, if you like when you are young, telling your story can be exhausting. We always told the story, we weren’t, well, I didn’t think that we had to justify who we were.
Alexandre: Does that mean that on the playground it wasn’t the teachers who asked you to explain all that, it was? Betty: Oh no, not at all.
Alexandre: It was your classmates who asked you on the playground ? Betty: It was the young people who asked us questions. For example, I don’t know, sometimes in class we had to explain where we were born, but we explained that we were born in Algeria. The teachers would say to us ‘Oh so you’re ‘pieds-noirs’. We would say ‘yes’ and they would ask ‘so how was it’, and so we would explain. There was nothing mean in it, you know. We, we explained that we didn’t know it very well, we left when we were 2 years old, our parents lived in Algeria for their whole lives. It was only afterwards that our friends – more the girls than the boys – not that it was a bother, they were curious, they wanted to understand. They wanted to know, but it annoyed us a bit. Knowing that mum, when she arrived she really suffered from all that, we were a bit embarrassed by it.
Alexandre: But, was it because people were talking about it, or was it also said in a mean way? Betty: Oh no, not necessarily in a mean way. But they asked why, people wanted to know, questioned me. And it’s true that in Fresnes, at the time, there weren’t that many of – well, it’s true the pieds-noirs arrived, okay, but there were hardly any Jews. After, when the Algerian arrives, they came to France afterwards, we also knew some in France, as pieds-noirs, we say the first Algerians, Tunisians, Moroccans, who came to Fresnes. Mum was happy because she would visit these people, so, me, I also saw them and got to know them.
Alexandre: Yeah, they were also at the Toit et Joie ? Betty: Not necessarily at Toit et Joie, but in the Thibaudes a bit, especially in the Thibaudes. There were a few people at Thibaudes. And mum, I know when she went to the market, she went up to people, she would say ‘Well I lived in Fresnes’, she was happy. She would talk about the country, she would talk about all that again. I know that my mum looked out for people like that a lot.
Alexandre: Arabs Betty: Arabs. Me, my son, you see, he didn’t know anything like that. Practically all his friends are Arabs. The children, and then even us, at school, at work …
Alexandre: What do you mean? Is it not random when you say your son’s friends are all arabs ? Betty: Maybe, yes and no, why not? Maybe, he feels better around people like that or by, I don’t know, I can’t, but it’s in a mean way. To the contrary. Me, my brother, he married a Muslim woman, my older brother. So, we don’t see the difference. And it’s the same customs, all these people? You know religion, what is it, it unites everything. The pieds-noirs, even with Nadia, I know that we work with several people at work who are from Algeria, from Morocco. Now that I don’t have my mother anymore, she speaks to me about the country and all that. Even though I’ve never gone and even if I don’t talk about it, I’m happy, because I was bathed in it all. And I’m not saying that one day I won’t go to Algeria, to see.
Alexandre: So you’ve never been then ? Betty: I’ve never been, but I’m not saying that I wouldn’t go to see. I feel quite connected to this country because, all the same, I was born there! My parents spent their whole lives there, and their ancestors, their grandparents.
Alexandre: Not their whole lives, until they were 30. Betty: Until they were 30. But their parents, all the same, their parents were born there as well. Well, you know, it’s quite a lot!
Alexandre: And the grandparents Betty: Absolutely
Alexandre: And did your parents ever go back to Algeria ? Betty: No never
Alexandre: They didn’t want to or they couldn’t ? Betty: No, no, they didn’t want to
Alexandre: Why not ? Betty: The conditions under which they left – it had been hard for them. No, ah well, Dad, he didn’t want to go back. [Pause] My mother might have, when she lost Dad, a little afterwards, she said ‘Oh I would like to go back’ and all that. Because my son, he looked it up online and show me. She gave him the address, well, she said, ‘The Trois Horloges neighbourhood, the Vieux Moulins housing estate’. He showed her the building where she used to live. She was happy. Oh yeah, she was really happy. She might have gone, but not Dad, no. I don’t think so.
Alexandre: So when you say it was hard for them, what happened - Betty: Well it was the war, me, my brothers who were older, they experienced the alarms and all that. They would cry, they would wake up with a start, I mean, they were scared! There were some incidents, we lost uncles and aunts. I mean, family over there who died. When my Dad came back from Algeria, they has taken him, separated him from Mum. By accident, an uncle met her and said ‘Where’s your husband?’. She said ‘Well he’s not with me’. Someone said you shouldn’t wait, and so he went to get my dad and so dad came back with us. If not, he wouldn’t have left with us.
Alexandre: Do you mean they separated them when they were embarking on the boat? Betty: Exactly, exactly. My father and my mother, not exactly on the boat, when they were doing their paperwork, they separated my parents.
Alexandre: Oh, who was it ? Do you know ? Betty: I don’t know, it was at the time of the …
Alexandre: And so your uncle went to go find your DadBetty: Exactly. He was in the army. He found my Dad. He went to see where he was, he got my Dad and brought him back
Alexandre: And do you came back in a boat ? Betty: By boat
Alexandre: Do you remember that at all ? Betty: Not at all, two years old
Alexandre: Oh that happens Betty: Not at all, my brothers do, my older brother yes. The other one has passed away.
Alexandre: How old if your older brother ? Betty: He was born in ‘55
Alexandre: He was 3 years old so he was 5 Betty: He still remembers. I have cousins who remember.
Alexandre: So you lived there until the end. You lived in Algiers, Bab el Oued? Betty: Yes, the whole time.
Alexandre: You left Bab el Oued for France Betty: Yeah to come back to France.
Alexandre: Where did you arrive, Marseille ? Betty: We arrived in Marseille and afterwards, oh I don’t know how, we came to Paris
Alexandre: Of course, you wouldn’t remember much. I was wondering, when you were over there, were there pieds-noirs of different origins ? Betty: Oh yeah, all sorts
Alexandre: But eveyrone spoke, what did everyone speak over there ? There were people from other regions ? Betty: Oh yes, there were Italians, Spanish, everyone.
Alexandre: Speaking what ? Lots of different languages ? Betty: No, they spoke French. Because they spoke French fluently. My grandparents spoke Spanish, my mother, since she lived in Algeria, my mother could understand Arabic, she could speak.
Alexandre: Ah, she spoke Arabic Betty: She spoke and understood Arabic, my Mum. My Dad never wanted to. He didn’t speak it. My Dad’s side didn’t speak Arabic, my mother’s side spoke and understood Arabic. My maternal grandfather had Spanish origins. They were from Oran. It’s not the same, the Oranais are more …
Alexandre: more SpanishBetty: Exactly, Spanish, exactly. But on my father’s side, no, they were more, they were less, it wasn’t the same.
Alexandre: And what side of the family, they lived in which village? Betty: They all lived in the – my mother and my father, they lived in the same building.
Alexandre: No, before, I mean the family. Because your mother was from Oran and your father was from … Betty: From Algiers, Bab el Oued. After they arrived, Mum, she knew Dad since she was 5 years old, in the Vieux Moulins housing estate and after they got married.
Alexandre: It’s a love that lasted then ? Betty: Ah yes, absolutely!
Alexandre: Uh, you mentioned the atmosphere in Toit et Joie and, is there anything else that would have come from the culture in Algeria or the pieds-noirs. Food, for example. Did you eat anyting special or was it like all the French? Betty: Well, at the start, when we arrived in France, Mum, she tended to make a lot of couscous. I mean, all the Algerian dishes. But for us, personally, we’re like here, we didn’t like it.
Alexandre: Ah you don’t like it. Betty: We didn’t like it. Me, I don’t like it. So we didn’t eat it. Afterwards, she made Spanish food. I mean, my mum cooked all kinds of cuisines. She was a good cook. She made everything. Compared to her friends in Toit et Joie, who were pieds-noirs of Spanish origin, Madame Rosine who was Caribbean. She made everything.
Alexandre: A very diversified food. And you didn’t like it. Betty: Well, yes and no. If you like, we were raised in a French way. Since when we came we were only 2 years old.
Alexandre: Doesn’t stop you from eating all kinds of strange things at your house. Betty: Yes, I mean couscous, I don’t know how to make it
Alexandre:Yes, okay. So you didn’t inherit your mother’s cooking. Betty: Oh not at all, we would say that Mum’s eternal she’ll do that forever.
Alexandre: She could have shown you ! Betty: Well she didn’t want to show us. We didn’t ask to learn. Since we always went to her’s to eat, it was her who did the cooking. No, we don’t know how to, Brigitte too, we don’t know how.
Alexandre: But when you say you were brought up in the French way, so you prefer French food. But at home, you didn’t have French food Betty: Well, Mum would make it. Knowing that we didn’t like it, for example, Friday evening, she always made couscous. Well after about 2 years, she stopped! She could see that we didn’t like it, she didn’t make it for us. She only made it for parties. No, no, it’s true that …
Alexandre: And so, it’s because at school you ate … Betty: Anway at school, yes, exactly, we were here in France so we – we knew Algeria through Mum and Dad, and what they told us. But you know … the atmosphere at Toit et Joie which … which they said reminded them of Algeria, but we didn’t know it.
Alexandre: And what would they tell you about Algeria Betty: Oh well, that they were happy, that everything was nice, that it was always, that it was – I don’t know how to put it.
Alexandre: They showed your photos ? Betty: Photos, lots of things yes, of celebrations, always of parties, it was always, I mean, they were happy! I know that my parents, I think that my parents had a happy life, up to the point that they had to leave. If they’d had the choice, they would have stayed in Algeria. They wouldn’t have come to France. If they had said ‘You can go to France or stay in Algeria’ my parents would have stayed in Algeria … I mean, it makes sense, eh!
Alexandre: country Betty: Exactly. For them, it was their country!
Alexandre: Um, do you know, did they take any action in order to remain when they were over there?Betty: Well, my parents stayed behind as long as possible. It was 62. There were some pieds-noirs who had gone back to France before that. They stayed until the last minute. Because they didn’t want to go. But they didn’t have a choice. They said ‘we’re going’. They were forced to leave. Then, my Dad, thinking of us, we were very young at the time. We were two years old. I had my two older brothers. So he preferred, we packed our bags in the middle of the night and then, there you have it!
Alexandre: Oh you left at night Betty: Leaving everything behind
Alexandre: Leaving practically everything, just suitcases Betty: Oh yes, my suitcases. I remember my mother told me ‘well, it was when we were in the boat, I lost your dummy, I couldn’t find it, you were 2 years old’. I remember, the two dummies for the twins. Oh yes, it’s true that that must have been – when I think about it sometimes – they couldn’t have been easy. It’s as if, well I’m 50 years old, but at 30 I find myself with 3 kids, because I also had twins, my boys and girl, and I have to leave France to go to another country.
Brigitte: with your suitcases
Betty: with your suitcases and you leave everything behind. You abandon everything. It’s not easy all the same.
Alexandre: Yes, of course Betty: I mean, it was okay, they found their family. Because they were able to come back, they were supposed to go to Nice. When my mum said ‘I don’t have family in Nice, no, no let’s go to Paris’. They landed in the Halles with my Aunt who had a two-room apartment. My two parents, the four kids, at my aunt’s flat with her two kids. Well, she remembers, that she helped us.
Alexandre: And then afterwards, you came here with your grandparents? Betty: to Toit et Joie with my grandparents yes.
Alexandre: So it was a little bit of the family tooBetty: Exactly, she knew that my mum had 4 kids, mum was the youngest. So I’ll go with Jacqueline – that was my mother’s name – and then we’ll leave for Paris because my aunt had lost her husband and was on her own with wo kids. So my mother said ‘well, listen, go’ which made sense, and they all left for Paris but they had to live in Toit et Joie for 2 years.
Alexandre: And you saw your aunt a lot ? Betty: Oh yeah, well we didn’t see her very often but we telephones all the time.
Alexandre: I mean that you’ve seen each other since! Betty: Every Saturday, I mean, when we were young, every Saturday we went to Paris, we went to the Halles to see the aunts.
Alexandre: And you’ve kept in touch with the other family members as well ? Betty: On my father’s side, we went on Sundays, yes.
Alexandre: So they were in Houilles Betty: From Houilles in the Yvelines, and on holiday, we went to the south and met up with family. I mean, on my father’s side especially, when we went on holiday in the south.
Alexandre: Very family orientated then ! Betty: Very much so. A very close family.
Alexandre: And in your opinion, since we’re talking about it, what does ‘pied-noir’ mean to you ? Betty: For me, it means – I tink that – it’s – has been – Pffff. I don’t know how to put it. It’s a good question though, why pieds-noirs ? Because it seems the first – my father and my mother explained to me that the first French who were, at the start over there, they had … what are the called ? Black boots, I don’t know. Something about boots, I don’t know.
Alexandre: Yes, like soldiers, I think Betty: Exactly, I don’t know why they were called the pieds-noirs. But it’s always remained the ‘pieds-noirs’.
Alexandre: But what does it mean for you? That’s the root of the word, but what does it mean to you to ‘I am pied-noir’? What does it mean when you tell me that? Betty: Well, because, I’m not Algeria. An Algerian is someone who is Algerian and Muslim and who isn’t French. For me, I am pied-noir but I am first and foremost French. Despite the new law by Sarkozy which mixed all that. Because I see, I absolutely wanted my papers, they told me it was the same. But for me, no, I agree that I’m pied-noir but first and foremost French, I am not Algerian.
Alexandre: Okay, so for you, it was a negative thing, you were saying, because they said to you - Betty: Oh yeah, they would say that we were arabs. With Brigitte a school, they would say ‘you’re not French’. And that, me and my sister we didn’t take it very well because we didn’t understand. We had an identity card and moreover we had never lived in Algeria and had always lived in France. And they said that, and we were small, we took it badly.
Alexandre: But they would say ‘you’re arabs’ or ? Betty: Yes, well, they would say that we were arabs, yes. They didn’t understand, we were born in Algeria … You see what I mean? And after, people understood because they started talking about the pieds-noirs, how it happened. But at the start, even my husband, my own husband, I tell you, when I first met him he asked me ‘Well what is a pied-noir?’. He didn’t even know, you see? I was 22 and him as well. He didn’t know. And I had to tell him all of it, and I was always a little annoyed by that. I don’t know, if you’re ‘Breton’, you see what that I, but no, you always had to re-explain. Now, it’s better with everything that’s happened. Now there are a lot more Muslims in France and so, they make the distinction, the people who are coming understand. But at the start, no, they didn’t understand because it’s true that at the time, anyway for me, as far as I understood, we didn’t talk about religion. They never spoke about religion at school. They didn’t say ‘You are this and you are that’. Now, young people talk about … Isn’t it true? [Asks someone else]. Exactly. I never spoke about religion, when I was very young. Whereas now, and more for the better. It’s a lot more mixed and everything, all the better. But before, there wans’t any of that. We felt a bit marginalised, yes.
Alexandre: But on the other hand did you have a religious practice? Betty: Yes
Alexandre: No ! Betty: But we didn’t talk about it, not really, my parents weren’t -
Alexandre: practising Betty: Well, if you like. When my dad came to France, he worked on Saturdays, so he didn’t observe the Sabbath! He worked on Saturdays, so we weren’t really practising. We’re a bit more now, maybe. We are more than we used to be. Even my children, despite the fact that our husbands didn’t have our religion, our children are even more than we are. You see, there you go.
Alexandre: And what characterised – what does it mean to be pied-noir, is there a character to being pied-noir? Betty: Well, for me, I would say that pieds-noirs – well, they’re quite – Well, I’m not going to toot the horn for the pieds-noirs, but they’re people who are nonetheless -
Brigitte: - open -
Betty: - who are open, who go to people, you know, well, I don’t know, should aks my colleagues -
Alexandre: No, no, I’m asking you, not your colleagues Betty: Yes, but, they would know better
Alexandre: Yes, but I’m interested in what you think Betty: Oh yes, but for me, what do you want me to say? I’m not going to tell you negative things.
Alexandre: No I understand, anyway, you could, but you don’t have to!Betty: What I mean is, I think that pieds-nois are people who … who …
Brigitte: Some pieds-noirs are nonetheless quite cheeky, to be honest.
Alexandre: Brigitte says the pieds-noirs are cheeky (Alexandre laughs)Betty: Maybe, yes, no.
Brigitte: I mean cheeky, they’re not shy.
Betty: Oh no, I wouldn’t put it that way.
Alexandre: Oh Betty does’t agree with Brigitte. Brigitte: No it is, they are some pieds-noirs who are ashamed of nothing.
Betty: Yes, that’s it.
Brigitte: They talk loudly.
Betty: Yes, that’s, it’s true we talk loudly.
Brigitte: Oh yes, have to be honest.
Betty: Listen. It was Nathalie who told us that.
Brigitte: Oh yes.
Betty: We tlak loudly, we’re very comfortable, for example, with someone we don’t know. They’ll be very at ease quite quickly. On the other hand, you feel that coldness from someone else, you know what I mean? But, I’m not, I don’t think that being too – maybe Mum was a bit like that, you know what I mean?
Brigitte: No, Mum was shy.
Betty: Yes, but Mum wouldn’t be embarrassed to talk to people.
Brigitte: Oh yes, yes.
Betty: You see, she was like us. I don’t know. I haven’t paid attention, I don’t mean to say I don’t see myself in it. What do you want me to say about the pieds-noirs ?
Alexandre: You know if you find it easy to mix with people Betty: Oh yes, I think so
Alexandre: That’s what I mean Betty: Yes, it’s easy to mix with people although in getting older …
Alexandre: oh Brigitte: She’s more reserved than I am.
Betty: Exactly, you could say I’m getting more defensive
Alexandre: Well, no-one’s the same, it’s not a problem if your colleague isn’t giving her opinion. Betty: But I mean, well.
Alexandre: But anyway, it was more in general terms about the pieds-noirs, than on an individual level. What is the pied-noir mind, is it -Betty: For us, when we were young – we’re not like it anymore – not to say we don’t have it anymore …
Brigitte: Well yes actually, we’re like Mum, we’re protective mothers, with children. We’ve inherited that from Mum
Betty: Yes, but that’s not exactly a pied-noir thing Brigitte.
Brigitte: Yes, fine, but nonetheless, if we have something that’s stayed with us, we’ll always be like that.
Alexandre: And your children ? Betty: Our children are a bit like us.
Alexandre: They are like you Betty: Oh yeah
Alexandre: And your children, they call themselves pieds-noirs ? Brigitte: Oh well, we’ve never talked about it.
Betty: No, they couldn’t call themselves pieds-noirs. Why would they call themselves pieds-noirs when they weren’t born in Algeria. They’re not, but on the other hand, they like to hear stories about our parents. No, they don’t call themselves pieds-noirs.
Betty: No, mine don’t. And I’ve never talked to them about it in that way.
Alexandre: And do they have any links with Algeria ? Betty: Yes, all the same, they do.
Alexandre: I mean, their family members were born there, but do the feel any - Betty: Ah well, they, there’s already the religion, Judaism, that’s -
Alexandre: It’s not linked to Algeria Betty: No, okay, how to put it. There are two things. There are the pieds-noirs and our religion. There are two things. So yes, all the same, we did marry non-Jews, eh!
Alexandre: Yes, but not all pieds-noirs are Jewish Betty: Yes, but it’s a way of explaining that we never talked about pied-noir things. Whether they were pieds-noirs, we talked about religion. We explained our religion. That’s why there are two things, nonetheless. But they would have liked to know Algeria. My mother told them things, they would have liked to get to know Algeria. Where their grandmother lived. That’s true. How many times have they said. Beside, Yoann showed her on the internet.
Brigitte: Photos, yes.
Alexandre :Betty, you were saying that one day you would go back to Algeria? Betty: Oh I would really like to, yes.
Alexandre: And your children have said the same thing ? Betty: Oh yes, they say ‘You really should go Mum, after all, it’s your roots, Grandma and Grandpa’s roots, you should go and see it’.
Alexandre: Yes, but for them ? Betty: They would go, why not, I think.
Alexandre: And you Brigitte, your children ? Brigitte: Yes, they would go.
Betty: But we don’t know anyone
Brigitte: Where would we go? Yes, I would like to go as well.
Betty: We have cousins who went, there are loads of family member who went. Yes, who have gone, they showed us photos and everything.
Brigitte: Because Mum’s whole family lived in the same building, so they went to see the house. To see the people who live inside. Yes, they went, aunty, she went – Yes, I would like to go there. But I would have liked to have gone with my mother, but she’s no longer here. Yes, I would have like that.
Alexandre: And were there any specific association for pieds-noirs around Toit et Joie ? Brigitte: No. But on my father’s side there was an uncle who was in charge of an association for pieds-noirs. They did loads of things with pieds-noirs, but not at Toit et Joie.
Alexandre: And your uncle didn’t live here ? Brigitte: He lived in the Yvelines
Alexandre:Oh. Houilles Brigitte: Yes, exactly
Alexandre: But, here, for example the people your father played boules with, they weren’t all pieds-noirs Betty: Not at all
Alexandre: It was just an activity Betty: Not at all. There was Monsieur Célem, who lived in Toit et Hoie. There were a few Toit et Joie people in the club. There was Monsieur Veston from the Mayor’s office. There were quite a few people. Monsieur Sanchez who lived in Toit et Joie.
Alexandre: James Veston lived in Toit et Joie as well ? Betty: No he lived in the Thibaudes
Alexandre:In the Thibaudes Betty: He lived in the Thibaudes but he came to the boules club, opposite Toit et Joie.
Brigitte: Besides, they often went to have parties with them
Betty: With the boules club as well.
Betty: So it was other people [Phone rings] and among them, lots of pieds-noirs. And with Monsieur Veston, he wasn’t pied-noir, but we were friends with his wife, and we even went to Isabelle’s wedding. When we got married, they came to our wedding. That’s why I’d say that they’re not really pieds-noirs but as – as people from Fresnes, they enjoyed the atmosphere.
Brigitte: We got into a group with lots of pieds-noirs families
Alexandre: Were there other pieds-noirs families from outside Toit et Joie? Betty: No
Alexandre: Oh people from outside Toit et Joie came Betty: Exactly
Brigitte: Non-pieds-noirs really like the atmosphere
Betty: They took part in the festivities
Alexandre: For example,e Veston he has always lived in the Thibaudes Betty: Yeah
Alexandre: He came to just take part Brigitte: Yeah
Betty: You can talk to him about it
Alexandre: Okay, and he was elected like your dadBrigitte: Exactly
Alexandre: So they met up at the town council Brigitte: Exactly
Betty: No, my dad wasn’t at the town council
Alexandre: Oh, he wasn’t at the town council Betty: He was with the Amicale
Brigitte: At the time it wasn’t the same
Betty: He wasn’t at the council. No that was Monsieur Ecoffet and especially Monsieur -
Betty: Monsieur Veston, no, no Dad wasn’t.
Alexandre: And you have in your family, do you have ancestors who are buried over there? Brigitte: In Algeria?
Alexandre: yes Brigitte: Yes, yes.
Alexandre: And do you know where? Was there any interest in - Betty: On no
Alexandre: You don’t know where they are ? Betty: Algiers cemetery, but I don’t know where. In particular, my mother’s sisters. My grandparents – I mean – my great-grandparents. They’re buried over there, we didn’t repatriate the bodies.
Brigitte: On no, they had already left with a suitcase. They weren’t going to worry about bodies and all that. They left everything behind.
Alexandre: That happens afterwards Brigitte: Yes, that happens afterwards. But no, they never did.
Alexandre: And you were saying, that you had family members who died during the war? Betty: Well, my grandparents well injured
Alexandre: Injured Betty: My grandparetns during the First World War
Alexandre: I was referring to the Algerian War Betty: oh the Algerian War
Alexandre: The ‘events’ Betty: Yes, I had a cousin on my mother’s side, her husband was injured during the ‘events’ and he died in a café in Algeria.
Alexandre: Okay, do you know the full story ? Betty: On no
Alexandre: He died Betty: I don’t know. He was shot in any case. He was shot.
Brigitte: Who ?
Betty: The cousin on mum’s side, who was in a café and killed in Algeria.
Brigitte: Oh yes
Betty: I don’t know the whole story
Brigitte: No, it was someone driving by in a car who gunned down the café, that’s what they told us
Betty: Well it’s like the attacks !
Alexandre: So that was when? You know roughly?Betty: Oh no
Alexandre: In 62 or before? Betty: Well before, during the events, well before, I think
Alexandre: Because there were attacks throughout ’62 and even after Betty: No. no it was well before we left
Brigitte: When Dad, when he took the boat, they didn’t want to take him.
Betty: Yes, I’ve told him that
Brigitte: Yes, she’s told you that
Alexandre: Yes she mentioned it, it’s a strange story. Do you know what happened ? Brigitte: What was it? What do you call it ? The one who had Dad – it has a name, people like that – he separate the man from the woman – and thanks to a cousin that –
Alexandre: But they wanted him to stay in Algeria ? Betty: Um
Betty: They went through some situations, even Jackie, when he was little, my brother was 8, when he heard the bombing in the city, bombing the passers-by and everything, you had to go hide downstairs. Oh yeah, it wasn’t easy.
Alexandre: Oh yes, they went downstairs to the cellar Betty: Yeah, you had to hide
Brigitte: Well, like in wartime, a bit like that nonetheless
Alexandre:So that’s your brother ? Betty: My two brothers, they both explained, they would cry
Brigitte: Jackie was 8
Alexandre: They would cry? Betty: Well it would wake them up
Alexandre:They would cry when the told you about it? Betty: They would cry because it woke them up. My mother, you’d have to go downstairs and hide, there was the curfew. We were born on 25th December. There was a 6am curfew. They had to take my mother to the hospital to give birth, it wasn’t easy, she remembered that.
Alexandre:Born at Christmas ? Betty: Yes, the 25th December
Alexandre: And uh, did your parents, have you kept any physical souvenirs, objects from Algeria, photos?Betty: Some photos
Brigitte: Loads of photos
Alexandre: Loads photos Betty: I’ve got loads of photos at the house
Alexandre:Oh Algeria yea? Betty: Oh yes.
Brigitte: Loads, loads, loads of photos. With our parents and our brothers.
Brigitte: If you need photos
Alexandre: Yes, I would find that really interesting. And then we might be able to borrow and scan them.