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From Popcorn to Paris and back

By Robert W. Thrasher L/395

PO Box 113, Harrodsburg IN 47434

I think there is an old saying, "You can take the boy out of Popcorn, but you can't take Popcorn out of the boy."

I didn't always live on Popcorn Road. The fall and winter of 1945-46, believe it or not, I lived in Paris, France. I didn't just live there — I lived well. Had great friends, and still have great memories.

How I came to live there is an incredible story. I was in the Army after the end of WWII, and I was in Germany. The war in Japan was still going on. Our lieutenant told us we were going to make the invasion of Japan.

I had never been to Paris and it looked like I never wood. I told myself, "What the hell, I'm going. What's the Army going to do — kill me before the Japanese do?" So, I went to Paris. I cannot remember how many days I was gone, several I guess.

When I got back, my sergeant told me the captain wanted to see me immediately. I reported to the captain, saluted, and stood at attention. He asked me if I had been AWOL and I said, "Yes, sir!" He then asked me if I wanted a court-martial or ship out. I said, "ship out" as he knew I would.

He said get on that truck out front. I was sure it would go to a seaport and I would go to Japan. It drove and drove, and in the middle of the night stopped in front of a big hotel in downtown Paris. I was told to get out. I was to be stationed there.

Of course, the captain knew where I was going for my punishment. I lived in a fancy hotel till I got a girlfriend, and eventually moved in with her. We ate dinner at her mother's house every night. Before dinner, I'd drink aperitifs and wine with dinner, followed by coffee and Calvados. By then I was half drunk.

I noticed a U.S. Army staff car parked across the boulevard from my girlfriend's apartment. It was there every night. She told me last year a German Army staff car was parked there every night. She said none was ever parked in front of her apartment.

The Communist Party was popular in Paris that year. My girlfriend liked it too, so I had to go to Russian nightclubs with Russian music and dancing. We also went to Russian movies with French subtitles. You are not going to find any of those on Popcorn Road.

One night when I was by myself, I met a beautiful, nude woman in high heels and an open fur coat. I cannot remember what we talked about, but I probably told her she should be ashamed of wearing animal skins. Although, I must say, she looked better in them than the animals themselves did.

About 50 years after that Indiana University won some tournament or other and the paper said a nude woman in a fur coat was seen in Bloomington. I suppose there's hope for Bloomington yet. I never bought my wife a fur coat so probably I'll never see such a sight on Popcorn Road.