A Quartet of Curious French Postcards

I shan’t be saying much about these cards.

Mainly because all four are completely beyond me.  Thus I have no idea why these chaps are indulging in some sort of sad0-masochistic horseplay,…

…nor why this man appears to be relieving himself in the corner of the room, nor why you would send this card to your parents…

…and yes, I know it is dated 1921, but I bet it was printed during the war years.

Nor do I know what these gentlemen are up to on this pre-war card (postmarked 1913 below),…

…and once again, let’s hope his parents had a better idea than me.  But as I do plenty of explaining on this website, if anyone else fancies deciphering these frankly unfathomable postcards, please feel free.

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21 Responses to A Quartet of Curious French Postcards

  1. Filip Jacques says:

    Postcard #1: ‘Les courageux’ or the courageous.
    The person in the middle sitting, says ‘ah, ce qu’on s’ennuie’, meaning: ‘how bored we are’. The person on the right hand side says ‘oui ou non, c’est si que vous ne voulez pas en fout une datte’ – my guess (as good as yours, I think): ‘yes or no, it’s as if you don’t want a date’ – as if they don’t want to leave the barracks. The two persons smoking in the centre: ‘combien que tu comptes eh l’pott?’ – again, my guess is that he’s asking how long he’s in (compter meaning to count)’
    My impression is that this card has the intention to criticize those who can safely stay inside the barracks, instead of having to fight at the front.

  2. Filip Jacques says:

    postcard #2: 17. scènes de caserne
    This card, number 17 suggesting that there is a series of funny cards about the life in the barracks, shows how the ‘corvée de battage des couvertures’, the chores of the threshing of the blankets, ends up in a fight.

  3. Filip Jacques says:

    #3: alphabet du soldat – de garde au couloirs
    On the second floor a soldier is on duty, having to stand guard in the staircase. He’s already waiting for 2 hours instead of sleeping and not amused. If ever he finds the ‘disgusting ones’ who pee against the wall… The bucket with ‘jules’ is a night soil. He’s unaware of what is happening below. The one guy says: ‘be quiet, he’s up there grumbling’
    A card introducing the life of a soldier – ‘g’ for garde au couloirs

  4. Filip Jacques says:

    #4 – a person is writing that he’s in the sick bay, he didn’t even stay one day in bed and is doing fine. The major, a good guy, stated that he isn’t sick at all. He’s determined to stay there as long as possible. The nurse, a nun, gives him something every day. To please her, he goes to the Mass. He hopes that the card will soon arrive.

  5. Filip Jacques says:

    #5: Students, finishing their ‘école nationale d’arts et de métiers’, a higher technical formation in France (promotion 112-115 – their group), greeting ‘the key’ – le salut à la clef. The person on the left shouting: conscrit, le salut’, conscrit meaning: enlisted man, having to serve in the army.

  6. Filip Jacques says:

    #6 – bonjour à le parents (spelling is not correct, as on the other cards!): hello to the parents, signed ‘Arnad’, is that Armand ou Arnaud?

    These translations/interpretations have been written down in 5 minutes. If anyone has a better idea, please have a go!

  7. Morag Lindsay Sutherland says:

    it is always a question of knowing WHO to ask and Filip came up trumps – thanks for the explanations

    • Magicfingers says:

      Indeed. You might even go so far as thinking that when I wrote ‘if anyone else fancies deciphering these postcards etc etc’, I might even have had Filip in mind…………not that I would ever assume, you understand……..

  8. Margaret Draycott says:

    Well M what a strange set of postcards no wonder you didn’t say much about them, thanks to Filip for the translations/explanations, not that I understand the point of sending postcards like those to anyone let alone your parents but………

  9. Filip Jacques says:

    I did some further digging on #5, the key was intriguing…
    L’école nationale d’arts et métiers provides a higher technical formation (there are a number of these schools in France). Each promotion had to make a large key (a tradition that started in Cluny in 1895). The ‘AM’ you’ll find in the top stands for Arts et Métiers, the ‘EX’ in the bottom stands for ‘exance’, meaning the graduation. That’s why you’ll find ‘le salut à la clef’, the greeting of the key, the ceremony of leaving the school, on the card.
    Is it a military on the left hand side, shouting ‘conscrit, le salut’? Conscrit, I think, refers to the military service that normally followed the education.
    ‘Décale 48’, honestly, I have no clue.

  10. Alan Bond says:

    Excellent explanation of the cards thank you Filip . I tried and failed cutting and pasting each text. Thanks MF for posting an interesting diversion back to my rabbit hole now

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