Monday, 15 April 2019
My bittersweet Notre Dame story.
In 1991 I spent three wonderful months on sabbatical leave in Atlanta GA. I have a ton of tales about that sabbatical.
As my time there drew to a close, my friend and former colleague Mary Lou La Vallee was in town. We went to a superb performance of Haydn's "Lord Nelson Mass" at a big and prosperous Presbyterian Church on Peachtree St.
(Probably this one, but I can't be sure)
Formal sabbatical over I set off for a driving tour in Europe where I was joined by my Pittsfield, MA friend Joe S.
We had lovely days in Italy and in Geneva, Switzerland from where we drove to Paris, arriving on a Sunday afternoon.
Of course we did not have Hotel reservations! But I had a wee sense of the geography of Paris so I directed Joe (the driver) to the left bank and the Sorbonne area. I told Joe "if you see a street parking area take it". He did, and we found ourselves to be almost across the street from an inexpensive hotel.
Truth upon truth we encountered a toothless concierge (French Novel anyone?) and were able to secure a room with two beds way up in the Mansard (123 stairs, no elevator/lift - I tell the truth).
We unpacked our belongings then wandered down towards the Seine and had dinner in a mediocre Cambodian restaurant.
"Joe", I said after dinner, "let me take you to Notre Dame Cathedral. It will be closed but you should see it at night.
It was not closed! We entered and eventually found seats from which we enjoyed none other than Haydn's "Lord Nelson Mass". What a gift!
'Twas magical. Haydn's "Lord Nelson Mass" in Atlanta, GA with Mary Lou, and a few weeks later at Notre Dame de Paris with Joe.
Religion apart, the immolation of Notre Dame de Paris makes me very sad.