Monday 26 July 2021

Week 30: a daring - and failed - robbery on the rue Chauveau-Lagarde

100 years ago this week: Week 30

Looking back 100 years into the past reveals how much some parts of Paris have changed in a century. An incident that took place near the Place de la Madeleine one warm July evening in 1921 is one such portal into the past.

Push open the doors to a different world here.

Daring robbery, rue Chauveau-Lagarde

Yesterday evening, as they were closing their coal and wine shop at 7, rue Chauveau-Lagarde, Mr and Mrs Costerousse were attacked by two individuals who, certainly to make off with the day's takings, struck and wounded them.

The cries for help from the couple caused the aggressors to run away. They were arrested in the rue d'Anjou, right next to the police station where they were immediately escorted. Both are American. 


Take a walk around the 8th arrondissement near the Place de la Madeleine today and you will find chic stores and upmarket restaurants, or at worst, banal chain stores and the rumbling of traffic. Indeed, at 7, rue Chauveau-Lagarde today, there is a rather vintage men's clothes store, and Italian and Chinese restaurants.  

In July 1921, Mr and Mrs Costerousse ran a wine and coal shop here, a thoroughly Parisian institution owned almost uniquely by people from the Auvergne region of France (known 
pejoratively as Bougnats). Such establishments were the sign that you were in a working-class area of the city, providing two essentials for a low price. Wine to warm the body and soul, and coal to warm an appartment. Generally the wife served the wine and the husband delivered the coal.

Some families grew their businesses to impressive levels (several well-known Parisian brasseries are still owned by families from the Auvergne today), but most lived simple lives. This attack was surely an opportunistic attempted robbery rather than a targetted aggression on people suspected of having wealth. This assumption is backed up by the fact that the attackers were both American.

Why were two Americans attempting to rob a shop in Paris in 1921? Reading the press of the time has shown me that Americans and the British were often mixed up in criminal activities in France in 1921, mostly ex-soldiers from WW1 who stayed in France at the end of the war with no particular skills or trade. Nearly three years after the war, some were getting more desperate than others, which probably explains this attack. Finding out what happened next in these stories is almost impossible, but these two Americans would probably have been sent back to the US as quickly as possible.

1 comment:

C-Marie said...

No excuses for their behaviour, but what a hard thing to be in war combat. It seems that everything could get mixed up without the stability of life in Christ.
God bless, C-Marie

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