A Soldier Falls In Love
I have often thought that in our lives apparently insignificant events happen and some of them become turning points, but of course we are not aware of this at the time. Many decades later someone named John Lennon coined a phrase which I often quote and which I believe to be profound, i.e. Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.
Temporarily leaving a troop train in Rennes in Brittany which was on its way to Holland and Germany in September, 1945, I left the platform, entered the interior of the large station, looked across the large open space - - - - and my life changed.
Behind a counter was a girl from whom I could not take my gaze. Dark complexioned (she later described herself as cafe au lait) with green eyes, her dark hair was piled high on her head, and she had a figure that would capture any man. The word that came to my mind was sultry. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but the facts (which I learned later) was that she was 5'2 tall with a 38 bust. I also learned later that she was a gymnast who had entered the Olympics. Her figure was perfect.
I have no idea what my original plan was in entering the station but my suddenly changed goal had become to use my French on her and to do it quickly before the train left. Now came the second wonderful surprise. She answered me in English - with an accent of course but probably as good as my French. My memory does not tell me what we each said - it was probably trivial - but we exchanged names and addresses and I headed toward the Western front with extreme euphoria. I suppose the word is infatuation. I didn't know anything about her. The attraction had to be physical but it was so strong it remained with me the following weeks and months whenever I thought of her. That day I wrote a letter to her while I was still on the train.
That letter was the start of a 1 1/2 year correspondence which showed me that her mind was the equal of her body. She was highly intelligent. The ongoing written relationship culminated in a marriage in April, 1947, in the States.