Illinois is the French spelling of the Indians that inhabited this state between three rivers and part of Lake Michigan, an Indian name for the land surrounded by three lakes. The French settled the southern half of Illinois and put their capital on Kaskaskia Island.
Some years ago, I met a girl from Centralia whose family still has the land grant signed by the King of France before the Jacobins of Paris deposed him by chopping off his head and declaring a republic which Napoleon resurrected. He and Thomas Jefferson became great friends and that is how Jefferson got Louisiana from him for a good price to double the size of America without war.
Jefferson was brilliant but the women of France loved Benjamin Franklin for his intelligence. French women said, “A woman has to be intelligent, have charm, and be kind. It is the same I require from men.”
Maurice Chevalier came to America and sang to Jeannette McDonald the song “Mimi, you funny good for nothing, Mimi, am I the guy.” He said, “Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternative.”
Charles Boyer made films in Hollywood and was always cast in the role of a suave, sophisticated, in most movies. But in the classic 1936 movie, “Algiers,” he played the part of Pepe le Moque, a thief sheltered by the people of the Cazbah from the police. Pepe tourist, Hedy Lamar, falls in love when he steals her jewels. The police tell her Pepe is dead and Pepe is caught when he goes to tell her he’s alive.
Always surrounded by beautiful women, his marriage to British actress Pat Paterson until her death was without any infidelity. He committed suicide the year she died.
Mr. Chirac learned his English working as a young man at an American chain restaurant in Paris. When I visited Paris on a leave from the Army in 1954, I think he was the counterman who served up my hamburger. When invited to dine in Berlin with Gerhard Schroeder he asked to meet the chef who prepared the meal and told him that his meal was like the very best of French gourmet cooking. Schroeder and the chef were charmed.
Charles de Gaulle was formidable. He fought in WW I, was wounded, captured by the enemy and escaped. He observed that “Politics is too serious a matter for politicians.” His feud with Churchill was no secret. He said, “When I am right, I get angry. When Churchill is wrong, he gets angry. We spend much time angry with each other.”
The plane that was to carry him to Scotland to inspect French troops broke in the middle on take-off. Inspection showed the steel rod that held the plane together was eaten by acid. He got on the next plane and flew to Scotland with a few words saying he didn’t doubt Churchill was behind it.
He said, “War stirs in men’s hearts the mud of the worst instincts. It puts a premium on violence, nourishes hatred, and gives free rein to cupidity. Crushes the weak, exalts the unworthy, and bolsters tyranny. Time and time again it has destroyed all ordered living, devastated hope, and put the prophets to death.”