My family moved from the UK to France for my father Francois (who was born in France) to look after his mother Nadine (French) after his father Thomaso (Hungarian) died from a Stroke at age 66yrs of age at work as a Policeman while on shift. He died instantly and very unexpectedly only 5-6 months short of his retirement. He had been a Policeman since retiring from the Air Force at the age 27yrs old having finished his time of service as required by the country of France. He was a decorated hero. So our family moved to France to care for my disabled grandma who had been left in a wheelchair after a car accident. And his siblings couldn't move as easily back to France to look after her.
I loved moving to France and we lived in the big family home where my father grew up. I got my first pony "Toffee Boy"... Went to a great school that I really loved. And really enjoyed my life with my extended family. And learned French in such a short time, I did really well in school and won spelling bees, was on the student council, the debate team, and the school newspaper. I was lucky I made a lot of friends. It was a great time in my life. I couldn't have asked for a better childhood and teenage life. We traveled a lot too which I loved because I learned so much about different cultures, peoples and countries which was fantastic. The photos we have are brilliant.
By the time I was in year 10 in school I wanted to start earning my own money and not rely so much on my parents. I have always believed in earning your way when you became old enough. And at 15yrs old I was legally old enough to get a job in France. So I started hunting for a after school and or weekend job.
After nearly 3 months of asking every cafe, supermarket, shop that I thought would be good to work for. I finally got a interview with the Owner/Manager of the newest cafe in town "Jessie's Lunch Hut" (translated name), her name was Jessika Nouleun, her and her husband Charles owned and ran the cafe. (Names used with permission). I was hired along with my then best friend Alexis. We worked Monday - Thursday 5pm - 9pm, Friday 5pm - 11pm. And every second Saturday 10am - 4pm... My dad would take us home at the end of the shift. We loved the work, we were earning $12US an hour and double time on Saturday. We made so many friends with regulars and had a lot of good conversations with people who came and went everyday... Best of all we made great friends with our great bosses Jessika and Charles. And were often invited with our families to come to dinner at their place for special holiday celebrations. Along with a third waitress Veronique, we became like extra children for Jessika and Charles who were a older couple in their late 50's at the time and their children had already left home and got married.
The building the cafe was in was built in 1949 after the Second World War. The building had been built on where an old dress shop had been before the Nazi's had bombed it out and 5 people had been killed including the dress shop owner and her 1yr old son in his pram at the time. Jessika and Charles were aware of the site history and let me know when I asked about the building because it was in late Art Deco style and I loved then and still love Art Deco (One of the Reasons I did my Arts Degree). And they let me know as much as they could. As they had bought the shop from the son of the man who had the new shop built in 1949. And he had let them know all he could. I'm glad he did I learned a lot. And also found out why a lot of strange things that happened around the cafe did what went on. Being that I loved the idea of ghosts and had previously had contact with ghosts in my young life.
I was looking forward to meeting the shops ghostly extras, my friend Alexis too was excited to come across them. And it didn't take long before the spirits showed themselves to us:
CASE 1: The Kitchen Ghost: A man in his 40's? Possibly a bit older dressed in a suit from around the early 1950's. Seen walking around the kitchen, in and out of the walk in pantry. Talks to himself and slams the pantry door and stomps around when he was annoyed. HE Was identified as: The original owner who built the store in 1949. He died in 1980 in the kitchen area of the cafe (It was a kitchen and walk in pantry in his life too) from a Heart Attack. He was a Chef and the way we saw him was apparently the way he behaved in the kitchen in life. He still did this as a spirit. He never really spoke to us workers. But Jessika and Charles both had him ask them "Who Are you? This is my kitchen so get out." He apparently wasn't pleased they were in his old kitchen. For us waitresses he would just glare and grumble at us. And sometimes swear under his breath at us. Not the nicest of persons.
CASE 2: Two men dressed as French Soldiers from WWII age uniforms. Sitting at the two seat table right next to the front door. They'd come in and take a seat and order a coffee each. You would go off and get a coffee and come back to get money from them before bring them the drinks and they would have just vanished. This would happen every Saturday Morning between 11am and 12pm. We brought this up with Jessika and Charles and they had noticed them too and thought they were just deserters, taking off without paying. When we realized they hadn't even had their coffees delivered to them yet. After talking to Jessika, we realized we had all seen them wearing well outdated uniforms...RESEARCH: Revealed; The two policeman were probably the two policeman shot by Nazi soldiers inside the front of the original cafe building before it was bombed. They were killed according to the newspaper report that covered their shooting deaths. They had been shot in the backs while unarmed by a Nazi officer. On a Saturday morning. Somewhere between 11am and 12pm.
CASE 3: The sounds of a crying baby and a sobbing woman from the owner/manager's office at the back of the building. All of us working there on several occasions heard the baby crying and a woman sobbing late at night just before closing. REVEALED; We believe with much research that this is the mother and son that were killed when the bomb hit the building in the war. As the original buildings office was roughly in the same place as the new building was. And the bomb was dropped on the building around 9pm. Killing them instantly. And around the same time we heard the crying.
OTHER GHOSTS; Seen By All Of Us More Than Once: An old lady and her little poodle that would sit at the far right table at the front of the cafe. She would disappear as soon as you went to talk to her right in front of you. Two Ladies who looked liked models who would walk in the door and disappear as they got to the counter. Dressed in late 1960's clothes. An old couple who would sit and chat in a booth close to the kitchen doors. They would sit and talk and then after 2-3 minutes just vanish into thin air. An old guy smoking a cigarette would stand out the front and look in the window and suddenly just disappear into thin air right in front of you. A well to do old lady we would always see almost daily walking around and around inside the cafe going from table to table and then walk out the door. She would disappear just as she reached the door opening. A waitress who would lean on the door inside the kitchen and watch you working in the kitchen and just disappear right in front of you as you were watching. Others would sometimes come and go. We loved watching them come and go. It was fantastic. We all loved watching them around the place.
I worked there for nearly two years when I left to go back to the UK to go to college at Cambridge University.
My parents moved to the USA when I was in the last year in college in the UK. They now live in Florida where my Mum grew up. My dad died from a heart attack in 2009. His mother died from Kidney Failure in 1999. My wonderful mother Annalissa is still alive. And she visits and stays with me for a week twice a year. I love her staying here when she does. My siblings are all over the world from the UK, USA, Australia and Japan. I don't see them very often. But we talk.
Jessika and Charles have sadly both since passed on. The cafe is run by someone else now. But I would always thank them for giving me my first great job. They were really good people.
Anyone who likes France and decides to go there on holiday, go and visit Reims its a brilliant place. And has a lot of great ghosts. And a lot of great old buildings and history to enjoy. It's a ghost hunters paradise... Hope you've enjoyed the story. I'll write some more stories down soon.