The Feast of Saint John the Baptist
This year my brother Robert is thirteen years old and it is time for him to earn his bread. On the 24th of June he is going to the traditional Feast of St. John the Baptist at St. Parize le Châtel, a near-by village. There the farmers who are looking for servants and the young people looking for work will assemble on the public place in the front of the church after the service of the Mass.
First, the Town Crier comes and beats his drum to obtain silence and give the order and the news of the day. After that, the farmers look for servants and the young people look for someone to hire them. Like a Street Fair, there are booths and a Merry-Go-Round and the people walk about and laugh a lot.
Robert is getting anxious for he is small and no one has hired him yet. He would like to be a horse driver, but my father thinks he is too young for that. He tells us that he would be better as an ox driver or a shepherd. After this he is hired almost at once by the manager of the Chateau de Villars as an ox driver. The farmer gives him a gold piece of ten francs, which is a gift and also a pledge that he will not accept any other offer.
After this is settled we relax and sit at an outdoor table. Our parents have some wine and as a special treat, we have each a chocolate éclair. Soon after, we walk back the three kilometers to our village, a bit
tired and silent.
I feel sad, for tomorrow Robert will be a man and will leave to take up his work at Villars. That is the end our good times together, our quarrels, our escapades. It is for both of us an “adieu’’ to childhood.
Rebecca Goethe DeVries
Editing and Copyright: Lucy DeVries Duffy, June 25, 2009, Brewster, MA, 02631, USA