A history that could have been

Children of Fortuna family, Hammond, Louisiana, photograph by Ben Shahn, 1935. Library of Congress. Resettlement Administration.

While wandering through the Library of Congress internet site, I came across this wonderful picture by Ben Shahn, from 1935, while working for the Resettlement Administration. The title is Children of Fortuna family, Hammond, Louisiana. The girl was probably around 14, so she was born in 1921 and she celebrate her 100th birthday last year. She could have been my GrandMa if only she would have come to Europe.

But in fact she did ! Her name is Helen, and she married James in 1942, a young man she met in Hammond and who choose a military career, she was just 20. On the 6th of June 1944, James was part of the American troops who landed in Omaha, and unfortunately, one of the first to fall under the fire of the German defense. Helen was informed by William, a friend of James, who decided to settle in Paris at the end of the war. Helen had to wait for a couple of years to be able to afford a ticket to visit the American cemetery where her husband was buried, and then continue her travel till Paris to visit William. This is during that stay in Paris that one evening she joined William in a bar in Montreuil where he used to go, and met Jean, a young French man, friend of William, just arriving from Burgondy. They began to see each other more and more frequently and got married in 1947. From this union, they had a boy who died when he was two months and a year later, a girl, Michele, who is my mother !

This is a history that could have been !

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