Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pont du Mont Blanc and an Early Earth Day Celebration

This is my first blog entry associated with a group of Genealogy bloggers (so called geneabloggers) who upload vintage postcards to their sites- usually with a certain theme in mind. This month's theme is "white" which could refer simply to a black and white postcard or something white in the context of the picture card.

Following, is a black and white postcard from my collection. It depicts the Pont du (bridge of) Mont Blanc in Geneva, Switzerland. Blanc is French for "white" and refers to the distant snow-covered mountains in the upper left of the picture. Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps, about 15,700+ feet, and can be see from several points around the city of Geneva on a clear day. One can obain excellent views of Mont Blanc and The Alps by climbing to the top of the darker-colored mountain in the foreground which is called Le Saleve, and then, turn around and have spectacular views of Geneva and Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). Mont Blanc is located on the border of France and Italy.

Image (click to enlarge): Vintage view of Pont du Mont Blanc (white mountains in upper left), with forested Ile de Rousseau on right. View looks south toward the old city of Geneva.

Image: Reverse of postcard

The bridge in the postcard crosses the Rhone River as it exits Lake Geneva (on left) and then continues on to France (on the right). The small island with trees in the middle of the river and to the right of the bridge is the Ile (Isle) de Rousseau. It is named for the philosopher, Jean Jacque Rousseau (1712-1778), who was born in Geneva and whose family lived there. Rousseau's "Discourse on the Origins and Basis of Inequality Among Men", published in 1755, is generally believed to have influenced the French Revolution. He dedicated the Discourse to his hometown of Geneva which he considered the most civil state in Europe.

The significance of this postcard is that it reminds me of the time my young family and I lived in Geneva for about two years between 1973 and 1975. I was on a post doctorate program researching diabetes at the University of Geneva. In our first month, my wife and our two young daughters, 4 and 6 years old, joined me in a walk to the edge of the city, and then we took a ride in a cable car to the top of Le Saleve. There was a little bit of snow on top and we threw a few snowballs.

Later in the Spring, the populace of the whole city celebrated Earth Day by abstaining from driving cars. Riding in the electric trams was OK. I rode my bicycle down to the Pont du Mont Blanc; the bridge was covered with bicyclists and pedestrians- and one very lonely taxi. Incidentally, Earth Day is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year, 2010. So the following pictures taken in 1974, were taken on about the 4th annual Earth Day.

Image: From a 35 mm Kodachrome of Pont du Mont Blanc on Earth Day, 1974. The end of the bridge runs into the old city of Geneva. La Seleve can be seen rising above the city in the distance. Only bicyclists and pedestrians are on bridge and a red-colored electric tram at far end of bridge. In warmer weather, colorful banners and flags were hung on the poles slanting over the bridge railings.

Image: All kinds of bikes were found on the bridge on Earth Day, 1974

Image: A lone taxi tries to negotiate a path through a disapproving crowd on Pont du Mont Blanc. The passengers were probably coming home from the airport. The lady inside appears to be smiling in good spirits.
If you got here from Therialt's Festival of Postcards, click here to return to the Festival.
Look up "Rousseau" and "Mont Blanc" on Wikipedia.
For more information on "Festival of Postcards" see Evelyn Theriault's "A Canadian Family" Blog.


Evelyn Yvonne Theriault said...

This is such a great entry - and the funny thing is that I was hoping for an entry on Mont Blanc - and here it is at the eleventh hour!
I'm glad to see someone new (to me) involved in geneablogging and the Festival. One thing I'd like to note is that Festival entrants are about 60% genealogy/family history bloggers and 40% deltiology/local history/social/cultural blogs - which makes for a good mix of articles.
I'll be back next week to spend more time on your blog (after the December Festival is published).
Evelyn in Montreal

Evelyn Yvonne Theriault said...

Thanks again for your entry. You can now view A Festival of Postcards (6th Ed.) white here:
I hope you will enjoy visiting the other blogs (probably a bit at a time since there are so many!).
A last note, it would be helpful to Festival readers if you copied the White Festival link into your post so that they can easily return after they read your article. Thanks!
Evelyn in Montreal