I found a map of the Alps in a psychiatric halfway house when I worked on its live-in staff. The house was an old mansion set to be demolished when a highway came through. A long time ago, a wealthy family must have owned this home, it was that grand once, but by time I got there the house was ready for the wrecking ball.
The box of maps was in a pantry closet. Each map was broken into rectangles of heavy paper backed by canvas so it could be folded into a neat stack. I chose two although I wish now I took the whole box.
Before I moved to Taos, I gave a map of the Pyrenees to a friend who is a fan of the Tour de France. I kept the Carte Routière pour Automobilistes & Cyclistes — Frontière des Alpes: Savoie et Haute Savoie.
The map’s “editeur” was A. Taride. His address was 18 et 20 boulevard Saint-Denis, Paris.
I carried the map wherever we moved. In Taos, Hank built a frame. If I were to remove the frame’s back, I could read the name of the soldier who signed the back of the canvas. I believe he was in the U.S. Calvary. The map was dated pre-World War I. I like to think he slipped this map inside his jacket as he rode a motorcycle through the Alps.
I was once in this part of the world before I found the map. It was early spring, wet and chilly. I rode in a car through the seven-mile tunnel beneath Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, to leave France and arrive in Italy, a much shorter way than this old map shows.
|My map of the Alps.|