So today, I fully experienced the power of blipfoto to make for unexpected connections.
Blipper WWombat posted a string of comments on my earlier blip (cool story: check it out!) and I decided to follow up on her request for a pic of the plaque honoring her dad on the wall of a local townhall. Her dad was the pilot of an RAF plane that crashed in 1944 in a nearby village, occupied by the Germans.
Mission accomplished easily on the plaque, but I thought: why not check in with the mayor and see if there's something else. Turns out the townhall was closed today but I did spot movement inside, so I made a fool of myself standing outside the window and waving my arms.
When I told them what I was after, not only did they let me in for a chat, but then they suggested I go see an older gent (Mr. Fleith) in the village who is responsible for the memorials I was after. So they called over a guy and asked me to follow him on his bicycle with my car (strange procession, that was) to Mr. Fleith's house.
When we arrived, he was outside, setting up the Xmas nativity scene in his garden. I explained my 'mission' and he got really excited: "let me show you the memorial we built in the woods where the plane crashed! I'll go tell my wife what I'm doing and I'll drive you." Ok, then... A few minutes later, I was in a car with a complete stranger, in the middle of the woods, then asked to walk down a barely visible path in the forest. And then, there was the memorial (featured as my blip), which still has pieces of the plane around it.
All the while, he is telling me the story of the plane crash, the role his grandfather played in removing the bodies, the friendships that remained with the surviving flight crew until last year (when the last one passed). He got very emotional when recounting the 70th anniversary of the event, which he orchestrated. All fascinating.
We then returned to his home, where I was invited in for a coffee and manalas (a speciality coffee cake for St Nicholas, which is today). A long hospitable conversation while we exchanged information, with promises to please come back and have dinner with them the next time I'm in Alsace.
So WWombat: thank you! Not only did I learn a fascinating story from you but I made new friends in the process -- right near my hometown :) And here are the rest of the pix for WWombat.