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Page 76: Road to Le Touquet
In June 2021, I drove up the French coast to Pas-de-Calais, retracing my dad's 1940 childhood odyssey for this book. (In reverse, as usual for me.) I explored the roads around Le Touquet, trying to figure out which one my dad and Lisa had taken.
It was hard to imagine that 81 years earlier, the same roads had been choked with French refugees fleeing their homes, and the German army was sent to clear them to make way for tanks.
I parked and walked to get a feeling for the landscape. A few cows trotted right up to the fence, hoping to share my croissant.
Page 77: Tank Drawing
My dad said that after he made this crayon drawing of a tank in a French forest in 1940, Lisa put it in her purse, and kept it for a long time after the war. It's lost now.
He did these pencil drawings of that week's adventure a year and a half later, in Cuba.
What Lisa called my dad's "telescopic vision" declined after childhood. He assures me that in graduate school at Columbia, he still had better than 20/10 vision, and could see paramecia on a microscope slide with his naked eyes. Today, at 91, he needs two pairs of reading glasses. Alas, I inherited only the glasses-wearing part.
Page 84: Soldiers
The British Army sent a contingent of almost 400,000 soldiers to France in September 1939, when Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. In May-June 1940, following France's unexpectedly quick defeat, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was evacuated in a few harrowing days, as depicted in the movie Dunkirk.
The British soldier my dad and Lisa met on the road was presumably one of 40,000 "missing or captured" who never made it to the beach.
Page 85: Montreuil
My dad thinks the town was Montreuil-sur-Mer. I stopped there on my road trip. While I was having coffee in the plaza, a wedding party came out of the church; I did a quick sketch.
Page 86: Why the sad face?
When my dad tells this story, he says the soldier's line in Viennese dialect: "Frolein, wos shawn ze den so trorig drein?"
Page 87: German Occupation
A generation of French books and cinema describe the trauma of May 1940 and its aftermath, as the people of France coped with the Nazi occupation and partition of the country. One of the greatest films about this period is Marcel Ophul's 1969 documentary The Sorrow and The Pity.
Like many New York kids in the 1970s, the first mention I heard of this film was in another (shorter) film, Woody Allen's Annie Hall.
Page 99: Shadowman
This 2020 ArsTechnica video does a great job telling the behind-the-scenes story of making Prince of Persia in the 1980s, including my brother's role, the rotoscoped animation process, and how Shadowman came into being.
Page 103: Storybook
The picture book my grandfather wrote and drew during his months of exile, in his bachelor apartment on Havana's Malecón, became a legendary item in our family. Later, Grani hand-bound it beautifully (she'd learned bookbinding as a way to earn money after her arrival in New York, in addition to housecleaning). In 2017, my stepmother Karyn had the storybook scanned and copies digitally printed.
I love Papi's drawings. He pictures himself with more hair than I see in the photos, but other details are accurate, and it's all wonderfully evocative. I took inspiration from both his and my dad's artwork in drawing Replay.
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