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Steve Bassett
French Kiss How the Americans and French Fell In and Out of Love During the Cold War
FRENCH KISS is a one-of-a-kind look at the Cold War. It has it all: laughter, bizarre behavior by high-ranking Air Force officers, black market, sex, love and tears, and most of all how mutual acceptance overcomes suspicion and distrust. The story was made possible by more than 250 hours of interviews and access to cherished mementos and photos provided by Americans and French who worked or served at Dèols-Châteauroux Air Station (CHAS) in the Berry region of Central France during the height of the Cold War. Examples. The beautiful wife of a general explains why she danced and sang naked from her balcony at an exclusive hotel. French kitchen workers are found drunk after they substituted water for the liquor to be used for a Baked Alaska at an Officer’s Club party. The last base Commander was a hard-drinking decorated fighter pilot. He demanded a fireplace be built so that each pilot had a place to smash his liquor glass after a successful mission, ignoring the fact that no fighter missions were flown from CHAS. Officers, their wives and girlfriends turn a historical hunting lodge into a trysting hideout complete with raucous food fights. Trainloads of prostitutes poured into Châteauroux every pay day, some like Nine Fingers and Gigi became legendary. The Black Market was everywhere, even seducing a native kid, one day to become a world-famous French movie star. An Air Force Captain describes what Johnny Walker Black label and a carton of cigarettes can get you in Paris. Black Airmen stroll the streets of Châteauroux arm-in-arm with white French maidens, something seldom if ever seen at American airbases during that time. Here are real people, relating maybe for the first time, their sorrows, betrayals, loves and building kinship with military occupiers. Their words are candid and unsparing.