France - Colmar

by Kimp 27. May 2016 03:01

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Welcome !!!

A lot of people go to Venice thinking that it will be a romantic experience. In my opinion, when commercialization moved into Venice, the romance left and found a new home in Colmar, France.

The photos in my blog are fairly low quality, which is a bummer, cause they really don't do it justice. I was using a small Nikon camera, and while the camera was fairly nice, the lens was too small and did not handle changes in light level very well. It was my back-up camera for several years, until is finally broke. Now I use my cell phone camera as a backup, which is even worse, but it's convenient, very compact, and very easy to use.

I went to Colmar several years ago with a travel buddy named Jason. We were at a wine tasting in a very small Alsace town and stopped by Colmar for a few hours on the way back. It's a beautiful place. A real, out of the way gem, in my opinion.

Alsace Wine

Wine is made by vintner's. Hence the name vintage wine, which usually refers to a particular vintner on a particular year when the grapes were the finest for making wine. Alsace is the only region in France, where it is easy for a normal American to understand the wine they are tasting or purchasing. That's because they name their wines after the grape, the same way American vintner's do. So a Riesling in America is similar to a Riesling in the Alsace region of France, Other notables are Pinot and Muscat.

119 Alsace village's make wine, and most are white wines made from Grapes that have origin's in Germany. Gewürztraminer is one of the very common Alsace wines that distinctively has a Germanic Origin.    

White Stork Population

In the 1970's the once abundant White Stork population in the Alsace region was down to just 10 mating pair's. They are very long distance migratory birds. All of the way to Southern Africa in our Winters and Europe in out summer's. Alsace is the summer mating grounds for some of them. They also fly around the Mediterranean Sea, because they need a lot of air under their wings, and the wind current's over the Med will not support their flight.

Conservationist's built nesting habitat's in an effort to give them something, that was similar to their natural habitat. Their nests are about the size of a Smart car. A few of the taller building's in Colmar have White Stork Nesting Pod's on their apex. Some couples, had built nests and were using them to bare their young."

The House of Heads

This is one of the more Artistic houses in Colmar, built in 1609  and owned by Anton Burger, a very wealth merchant, who apparently liked to flaunt his status. It has 107 heads/masks sculpted on it's facade, which is where it got it's name from. Anton later served as Mayor, but was only Mayor for two years, when he fled town and took up residence in Basel Switzerland.

My guess is that he was a Lutheran, In 1628, when he left, the Catholic King of France, during the Counter-Reformation period, forbade Protestant Worship in Colmar and also dictated that all political offices were to be held by Catholics. Basel Switzerland was Lutheran at that time, so most Lutheran's relocated to Basel.

On the top is a statue of a Cooper by Auguste Bartoldi, that was created in 1902, when it was Colmar's Wine market.

The Office of tourism lists that house as  Renaissance Architecture, but I beg to differ. While it was built in the Renaissance Era, it doesn't meet hardly any of the Renaissance Architecture Criteria. It was most defiantly designed by an Artist and not an Architect.

Statue of Liberty

Fredric Auguste Bartholde was born in Clomar. His family moved to Paris after his father died, but they maintained their home in Colmar and would often go back and visit Colmar.

At that time Comar was under French rule. After the Franco-Prussian war (which Fredric found in), the rule of Colmar, passed into German hands. This fueled Fredric's interest in Liberty and Independence.

He decided to join the Union Franco-Americane, which already existed, and was interested in tightly aligning France and America in the name of a common interest. It was formed just after the Union Army had won the American Civil War.

Fredric created an artistic design for the Union and called it, "Liberty Enlightening the World". He applied for a US patent on that design, and the Union started selling miniature statues, to raise money for the real statue. The agreement was that France would fun the statue and American would fund the pedestal.

That fund raising campaign actually failed and didn't raise much money, but the idea lived on and festered. After a few years, enough money was raised, to build the head and the torch, to be put on display. The head is thought to be that of Bartholde's mother.

America had an extremely difficult time raising money for the pedestal. American's didn't want a Statue dedicated to Liberty, they wanted a Statue of Ulysses S Grant, an American Civil War Hero.

When the torch was finished, it was put on display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. This confused people, who thought is was going to be erected in Philadelphia. Bartholde used that confusion to light a fire under New York City's ass. He knew Boston was their arch rival, so he said, "Well, since NYC doesn't want this Statue, maybe Boston would like it?"

Enter Joseph Pulitzer, who was owner of the "New York World" newspaper. Joseph was a Hungarian Jew, who came to the US at the end of the Civil War, to enlist and fight for the Union Army. After the war, he relocated to St. Louis, denounced Hungary and became a Naturalized Citizen. Pulitzer spent all of his spare time in the Library and became a self taught lawyer for a while. He was popular with a lot of influential people. At the age of 22, he was nominated for the Missouri State Legislature, when the minimum age requirement was 25. They knew that he was 22, but didn't seem to care. He later bought two St Louis newspapers and combined them in the the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Pulitzer was an expert at connecting with the Common Man. He often wrote exposes that uncovered government corruption. On Oct. 5, 1882, Pulitzer’s chief writer killed a political opponent of the Post Dispatch. Public disapproval of that, forced Pulitzer to move to New York City and purchase one of it's newspapers the "New York World" from Jay Gould, where Pulitzer continued to write exposes uncovering public corruption in Washington. He added sports coverage, comics, women's fashion and illustrations, making the World, a favorite newspaper read by the common people of New York.

When Joseph Pulitzer got behind the find raising drive, to keep the Statue of Liberty, money started trickling in. He said that he would publish the name of any contributor in his Newspaper, regardless of the size of their contribution. Most of the contributions were for <$1 (<$200 adjusted to 2016). It still took several years to raise the $300,000 dollar's, but it eventually got there. 

Six years later, enough money had been raised to create the statue and pedestal.

Unfortunately the artist who designed the pedestal dies before it was completed and he did not leave any details on how he had intended to connect the pedestal and the statue. Bartholde enlisted the help of Gustav Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower frame). Eiffel designed a steel frame substructure to attach the statute to the pedestal. This was before the Eiffel tower had been built.

Fredric made a trip to American and picked out the place where the Statue would be erected. It was turned over to America on July 4, 1880 and dedicated on October 28, 1886. At that time, it was the tallest building/structure in New York City.

One detail that most people don't know about the statue, is that there is a broken leg chain near the Statue's left foot. It can't be seen from the ground, so it is kind of hidden.

Another fact about the statue, is that the arm had been closed since an act of sabotage by Germany on July 30, 1916, during World War I. German spies blew up a large munitions depot housed on a pier between Black Tom Island and New Jersey. 100,000 pounds of TNT and 1,000 ton's of small arms were exploded. flying debris from that explosion damaged the arm. Also, before the September 11th, 2001 world trade center terrorist attack, there wasn't any limit to the number of visitors going to the crown. Now it is extremely limited. The crown has 7 spire's, one to represent each of the seven continents.

What an amazing artistic vision and a great lesson in self perseverance on the part of both Auguste Bartholde and Joseph Pulitzer this story is.

The Bartoldi museum is located in Colmar at 30 Rue des Marchands, which was is boyhood home. Also, several of the artistic sculptures in Colmar, were made by Frederic.

Unterlinden Museum

France's most popular museum outside of Paris. It houses art from prehistoric to modern times.

Martin Schongauer was one of the most prominent Artist's in the Upper Rhine Region, and he was born in Colmar in 1440. His engravings are off the charts awesome. A major collection of his work, is in this museum.

My History

My high school physics and electronics teacher was named Colmar. His wife also taught at the same high school and they were both near retirement age. He was a very good teacher, but very strict, not a great communicator and never smiled. I was a good physics student, but not very strict and had a smiling sense of humor. Therefor, he and I never really saw eye to eye on matter's outside of physics nor electricity.

I was one of the top students in his electronics class, cause my father was an electrician and I had been working with electronics since I was about 8 years old. I learned Algebra at 9 year's old, by reading text book's my dad had. When my father was about 40, his employer made him go to electronics school. He hated that school, but I loved reading his text books, cause I could understand them. In my opinion, that was much better than the crap I was learning in elementary school.

I always called Colmar, Colmar behind his back, but never to his face. Not out of spite, it just seemed to fit well. Even though we didn't like each others perspective on life, we seemed to share a mutual respect for each other.

Colmars wife, on the other hand, really liked me. I didn't have an classes with her, so we didn't interact much, but when we did, it was always kind of sweet and kind. I am sure she heard all of the stories about me, from Colmar, but that didn't seem to dissuade her taste.

We used slide rules in Physics class, but a few of us had electronic calculators at that time. I happened to have one of the newer, fairly high end, multi-purpose calculators. Colmar had the top end Engineering calculator, which used "Reverse Polish Notation". Someone in class, had asked Colmar to teach us "Reverse Polish Notation". So he tried to teach us, but from the start, he and I (along with most of the class) were argumentative about it's stated merrits. His point was that it was designed for Engineering and therefor better suited for that purpose. My point was that it was convoluted for most human's, and therefor, error prone, and took more time to use and created more errors. After about 45 minutes of arguing, we finally decided to settle it the way men settle these types of arguments. Someone randomly drew a massive equation on the board, and we saw who could solve it the fastest. Colmar, with his high end "Reverse Polish Notation" calculator, or me and one other classmate with our fairly high end "Polish Notation" calculators. I smoked him. Not only was I a lot faster, but he also got the wrong answer. Not able to accept defeat, he said something like, "If he were more practiced, the results would have been different.". Yet for some unknown reason, he stopped that lesson after that, and left the room saying he had something else he had to do.

Another time, he was having a discussion with another student about the to speed a passenger car could go around a particular clover leaf (3/4 circle on ramp to an American Interstate Highway). I wasn't in that conversation, but got pulled in when someone said, "I'm pretty sure, I was in Craig's car, when we went around that clover leaf at faster than that. Colmar worked out the physics and said, "There;s no way the friction can be that strong!". I said, "I'm not sure, cause I am usually looking at the road, not the speedometer? But if he said I did, then I probably did. "This ended up as another argument, with only one way to resolve it. This one displayed how stupid and immature I am at times. I actually did it (actually I started I tried several time at slower speeds before the final attempt at the argued speed), but in hind-sight it was a really dumb thing to do. I nearly had an accident. The problem is, that the curve gets much tighter near the end, then in the beginning, so it is really hard to keep the speed even, and we naturally would slow down near the top. I didn't slow down, and when the car felt like it was going up on two wheel's, I realized that I might be in a bit of trouble, but by that time, it was too late to slow down, so I followed through. Never again, learned my lesson on that one. The problem with Colmar's calculation's is that he calculated it like it was a flat road and those on-ramps are banked. The bank gives the car more friction due to centripetal force planting the tires more firmly on the pavement, instead of throwing the car..

Then there was the time in electronics class. He had us build a housing circuit that was very simple and boring in my opinion. It was a basic circuit where we have one light, but two different switches that control that one light. So it the light is off, I can toggle either of the two switches and the light turns on, and vise verse. He had to leave the lab room for about 15 minutes and gave us (as he is looking directly at me) strict guidance to not test it, until after he had a chance to review our work. I finished it in about 5 minutes and got tired of waiting for him to return, so I plugged it in and gave it a try. It blew the circuit breaker, melted the end of the plug and left a big black scorch mark on the outlet that it had been plugged into to. Everyone in the room, knew it was me, cause of the loud pop, the fire bolt of electricity coming from my table, and half of the light's going off. Colmar came back and amazingly nobody ratted me out. I was suprised because there was a person in that class that was notorious for ratting people out. Someone just told him half the lights were out, and Colmar found the circuit breaker box and turned it back on. I then asked him to review my work. He looked it over closely and said it look good, but as he was walking away, he happened to see the large black burn mark on the socket. "It was you, I knew it, those lights have never been off before.". I said, "Yes it was me, and I should not have done it, but you just reviewed my work and said it was OK. So it would have happened anyway, even though you reviewed at my work.".  He was still upset, but left it go. In reality, he was right and I was wrong. It turned out, that the cheap light socket had an internal short that nobody could see without looking very closely at it.

The last good Colmar story, revolved around religion. Colmar was a devout Christian. I was raised as a Christian, both of my parents were founding members of, and very active in a Luther church in our home town. I learned a bit about the bible, and I tried to believe for a time, then became agnostic for a short while, and by the time I was in 10th grade, I had made the decision against Creationism.  I told my mom that I didn't believe in the maker, but I did believe in the Christian Church, as a great organization that does a lot of good for people, and therefore, I didn't care what basis it was founded on. My mother told me that was OK, I should believe in whatever I believe in, and that she thought it was OK for me to feel that way.  I didn't actually find religion until my one and only Wife, asked me for a divorce. After that, I found religion, made up for some lost time, and while I am not as active as I once was, I am very glad to have it in my life. Back to the Colmar story. I was in 11th grade and I was wondering why a person who knew so much about physics would believe in Creationism. This is a topic, that is not allowed, in the American government funded public school system. A very good person, devout Christian, and good friend of mine at that time, named Rick, told me he was going to Colmar's house for bible study. I basically invited myself and Rick was OK with that. It was not malicious, I was genuinely interested in what he was going to teach, from the perspective of a physics teacher. When I crossed the threshold of his home, his wife was very happy to see me, but he didn't seem to share that enthusiasm. She's say's, "Oh great, Craig came along. I'm going to make some cookies and hot chocolate, while you guys sit and talk.". Since it meet his wife's approval, he pretty much had no choice. I don't remember any of the discussion at all, because he had a bunch of complex puzzles in the room where we were sitting. I immediately tuned out and became fascinated with working them. I worked through a few easy one's, then moved on to a mediocre one and solved that with a little bit of trouble. I was about to take apart the really hard looking one, when Colmar's stops the religion discussion and say's, "Craig, don't take that one apart, because it took me forever to solve it !".. Rick looks and say's, "Oh, Craig can solve that. I've seen him solve very hard puzzles before. That's not as hard as those". Colmar say's, "Well, OK, but you had better get it back together.". I was kind of mildly reluctant, because I really did respect Colmar's intelligence, but could not resist and went for it anyway. About an hour later, I was still stumped, and knew I wasn't making much progress. The only saving grace, was when his wife walked in with the home made cookies and hot chocolate, which signified the end of the evening. I told Colmar, that I was sincerely sorry that I could not solve it, but if he let me take it home, he had my word that I would solve it, and bring it back. He forgave me and told me that it was OK as is, and he really didn't care that it was in pieces. That  solidified the mutual respect that we had for each other, even though we were quite different. Today, I accept Creationism, as the Creator also created all of the rules, which is what we know of today, as physics.   

Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time.

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Comments (5) -

6/2/2016 5:09:47 AM #

Funny Colmar stories.  I turned myself in for busting up some of his glassware in chemistry and he was not happy, but forgave me.  Last day of school I loaded up the new shoot around the corner squirt gun with adjustable barrel and 10 handy water cartridges you could switch out.  It was fun until Colmar caught me loading up at the water fountain and confiscated it all.  He was a WWII pilot and was short of stature.  He flew the Corsair gull-wing plane with a looong nose that pointed up on angle when on the ground and completely blocked his view, so getting up and coming down were done blind by old Colmar, pretty gutsy.  I went to the Bible discussions, ate the popcorn with friends, but did not take it seriously.  I was raised in church, went atheist from college influences, then came back under the influence of many friends and family and God's persistent hand.  He showed me my life in the rearview mirror and all came into focus real quick.


6/12/2016 4:41:04 AM #

I wonder where I was during that water battle. The Corsair was one of my favorite model planes. Small plane with a massive engine and a huge prop with 4 blades. It looked really cool. Always great to hear your stories as well.


Julie Carlino
6/3/2016 12:22:04 AM #

I'm not sure "Conversationalist's" do any other than converse.  I'm pretty sure conservationists build things to help conserve the habitat.

Love the Colmar stories!


6/12/2016 4:30:24 AM #

Great comment Julie and thank you for the letting me know Smile
I probably spelled it wrong and also picked the wrong suggestion in the spell checker.


9/3/2016 6:28:51 AM #

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