Under the Black Flag

Nothing to Protest

Bonjour, mes amis!  Fifty years ago this month, I was living in Paris, and life was, shall we say, grand.  Back then there was nothing like Paris in the spring and early summer, with formal balls galore, polo in the Bois de Boulogne, and late-night parties in Left Bank clubs such as Jimmy’s.  At 30 years of age I felt omnipotent, especially when wearing boots and riding breeches and galloping down the polo field, cheered on by the fairer sex.

Then “Les événements” came about, and the high life in the city of light took a leave of absence in a hurry.  The preceding year had been one of the most brilliant of the postwar seasons.  American-born Midwesterner Sheila McIntosh, Countess de Rochambeau, had given a grand ball in her chateau just outside Paris, as had the Guy de Rothschilds in theirs (Ferrières), followed by the Agnelli ball in the Bois de Boulogne.  I had attended all three, plus some less-glamorous ones in the city itself given by young friends who had not as yet inherited.  (They had to settle for parties in their “hôtels particulier,” as town houses are called in the Land of Cheese.)

The polo season in Paris takes place mostly in June, and the main polo fields are situated in the Bois de Boulogne, where the private club called Bagatelle holds a very strict line between commoners using the park...

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