Marseille – my birthplace

OMG – Oh my Gosh. Time has obliterated much of my early childhood.

When you’re a young child, your life revolves around your home, school, playground or outdoor play area and Marseille - me at 5 Rue Merentie(maybe) your church. I went in search of all of those with mixed success. Warning… I’m going to talk about me. I want to talk about “I”‘ I’m going to talk about Number one. [thank you Toby Keith.]

I was born in Marseille, the second largest city in France and left for the US when I was ten years old. Yes, that was a long time ago.

My home – 5 Rue Merentie, third floor. Marseille - 5 rue merentieAnd in American terms, that’s the fourth floor. It goes without saying that there wasn’t an elevator -Probably still isn’t. More about that in a future post. Looking at it with adult eyes, the apartment house probably dates from before WW I.

The rest of the block still has a bar on the corner. That’s where we made the few phone calls we needed to make because we didn’t have a phone.

A framing shop is stll operating two doors down. I went into the shop and learned that the present owner bought the business 26 years ago. The fruit and vegetable store where my mother bought all her fresh produce is long gone, turned into another apartment.

My elementary school was gone, changed into a youth leisure center. They have added a metal gate in front which was shut tight.

Marseille - la PleineThe biggest surprise was the playground – La Pleine.

Most of the space has been turned into a market, open six day a week.

Many vendors are North Africans and French -Africans and so are the patrons. Along with beautiful fruit and vegetables, they sell cheap clothing and kitchen appliances. Where do the kids play?

The church, of course, is still there. Women still sit on the steps with their tiny children and beg.

Marseille - carouselAnd the carousel is still here and still being well used.

It’s on Le Canebiere, a busy Main Street. The brass ring, which used to get you an extra free ride is gone but the music, lights and fairy tale characters still seem the same.

If you go back to your birthplace often, you can track its changes along with yours. But if you see it up close after many years, it’s like a place you’ve seen in the movies. I don’t fit in here. I did pass through here a couple of times but didn’t do it with the depth I’m doing it now.

This year, Marseille is the European capital of culture. Who would have thought?


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