The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Bet This Doesn't Happen Much In Your Town

Saturday morning, the Pont Wilson bridge near our place was closed to traffic, the underground parking garage vacated, and the riverbanks on both sides cordoned off... as the Gendarmerie bomb squad raised an unexploded 1100-pound bomb from the Rhône under the bridge.

[pic not mine; copied from LyonPlus]

What was originally believed to be a dud Allied aerial bomb turned out to be one of the bombs planted on the bridge by the Germans as they skipped town in '44. The other explosives on the old bridge did the trick, and this one fell unexploded into the river in a pile of rubble.

The tall apartment building in the center background of the top photo is caddy-corner across Place de la Republique from our building. In other words, we've walked right over the top of this huge high-explosive device a couple hundred times. Geeesh! Step lightly... Actually, according to the Le Progres article, there was no danger since the detonator had long since deteriorated in the course of its 63 years underwater.

Armed with the knowledge that the bomb would be raised Saturday morning, I headed to the bridge with my camera in hopes of getting some interesting snaps, but as the bomb squad had started work at first light, by the time I wandered out at about 10AM, everything had been cleaned up and there was only this lonely dive boat looking for--I dunno, maybe any other half-ton bombs no one had noticed.


As I write this, the local ambulance-drivers unions are on strike. Strikes are not at all uncommon in France, as you may know, and this would hardly even bear mention except that they have chosen to demonstrate by an "operation escargot" in which huge lines of ambulances drive v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y through the main streets of town. Including the one my office is on. Which means that right now there are about 100 ambulances driving by at 5mph with their blue lights flashing and their sirens going full blast. If it were even possible to think, I'm sure I would be particularly disinclined toward sympathy for the ambulance drivers' grievances.

Also, every dog in the 8th arrondissment is going completely insane right now.


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