by Yule Heibel on May 23, 2005

Strange, how we’re flung all over the globe, yet attend to the forces of nature and of capital. I saw a news article about two Belgian brothers, filmmakers, who managed to win the Palme d’Or for a second time in seven years — no small feat. They are Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, profiled here, who won this year for L’Enfant. Their previous win was for Rosetta (1999). Their movies are based on their hometown’s economic tribulations, and the hometown is Seraing, which is very nearly almost a suburb of Liège. A few years ago, I ate a dismal rabbit lunch in Stavelot, which is about 40 or so kilometres to the south-east of Seraing. My grandmother came from Stavelot — god, it’s a depressing place, no wonder she left. Unlike Seraing, I don’t think Stavelot has any industry, or industrial travails to speak of.

I found a site devoted to Seraing‘s history. It has historical photos of the river floodings that took place in the mid-twenties, and I couldn’t believe how closely the pictures approximated the floodings that took place around the same time in Neuwied, which is where my Belgian grandmother ended up. The Rhine would flood its banks and inundate the town, until some determined mayor (by the name of Krups) finally managed to get a dike-wall built (~1928-32). After that, the floodings became a thing of the past. But I’ve seen the pictures of my other grandmother’s business, once the Becker-Lampert, then the Lampert-Luhmer bakery, housed in the multi-story building the family owned near the river, flooded to the second story. There, one saw people hanging out the second floor windows while boats floated by on what used to be the street. A casual stoicism and general bonhomie animated the scene.

Gee, I would have had a hard time not flipping right out. Imagine the cleanup… People put up with more back then, I guess. Or did they?

{ 1 comment }

David Lejeune May 27, 2005 at 5:45 pm

Merci d’avoir ins

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