Swiss Excerpts

swissPart One: Birth Accidents
La Clairière September 1955

At the age of seven, I was dropped off at a boarding school in Switzerland that my parents had never seen. Being a traditional Frenchman, my father was distressed that my older brother and I did not have perfect command of the French language. A prior attempt to educate us, a six month residency with a French nanny in Cannes, had been aborted because the governess’s daughter had contracted viral meningitis.

Part Two: Victim

I began to develop some feelings of calm and stability during my first year at Rosey under the care and supervision of the Stickel’s in their well run Junior section. I always felt lonesome and cried many nights. I was gradually losing the constant fear of being beaten or molested. The main concern was my grades. I enjoyed Madame Stickel’s fabulous history lessons, but I was failing at all other subjects. The three years of virtually no classroom education at La Clairière was evident.

Part Three: Victor

“Reicher Fagot!” he yelled at us in German. We all understood that part, ‘Rich fag’.

The magic word had been uttered. A common cause had been handed to us on a platter as unknown power surged from within each of us. The race had now become something very personal — at least for me. We had to win to prove that he was wrong about us, and for all the underdogs and all victims of prejudice. Winning was the only weapon against being ridiculed. I turned around, looking at the team, and said,

“You got that, guys, right?”