STEFANIA ROUSSELLE FOR "THE WORLD" By Stefania Rousselle
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TestimonialsFor this new series, journalist and director Stefania Rousselle sets off on the roads of France, with a simple question: “How are you? This week, Jocelyne Vanhille, 69, owner of the café-brasserie-friture Au Saint-Martin, in Bray-Dunes, in Hauts-de-France.
“On January 1, I've had my coffee for fifty-one years. I arrived here, I was 9 years old and I haven't moved. My parents had put me here to help out the landlady, an old young girl. Miss Lerooy, Simone. She had caught jaundice and she couldn't walk very much. I walked his little dog, I went to get his coal, kindling, all that, I lit the fire. I was always next to her. I wanted to stay next to her. Oh, she had a bad temper anyway. But I liked her, she was like my grandmother. And when I took over the business, I continued to take care of her. She was upstairs in the apartment with us, and she died there. The day of his death, the firefighters were busy having a drink at the Bon Coin. We waited for the doctor to come to confirm her condition, and they put her down while she was still warm. Shouldn't break it. Because when it's cold, it's not good. And we had a mortuary here, in the bar room.
When Jocelyne Vanhille's husband died, she took all her fishing gear down to the dining room so that he was always with her. “He was very jealous. Me too huh! » STEFANIA ROUSSELLE FOR "THE WORLD"
It was a little old people's café here. It was I who brought back the youth a little bit. We had put a pinball machine, a table football, a jukebox. It worked, yeah. We put in two francs, I believe, and we were entitled to five records – I remember more exactly. We put on La Danse des canards, all that stuff. I really liked dancing to the rocks. Those of Johnny Hallyday, Marc Anthony. There were slows, too: Sylvie Vartan, Les Compagnons de la chanson. I loved Les Compagnons de la chanson. And that's how I met my husband. I was 14, he was 18. I ran the cafe, and he worked at the Dunes steelworks. He was brave. He came home at 5 a.m. and peeled all the potatoes outside. And before leaving, he blanched all the fries. He died the day before his 55th birthday from generalized cancer. It will be nineteen years. All his things, I took them down to decorate the room. I put them with those of Mrs. Lerooy, which I had already installed. That way they are always with me.
Beef tongue and confessional
I'm going to be 70, but you're not old at 70. I've had ulcers for six years, but I'm not complaining. So I continue to work. It's not with my retirement that I'm going to get out of it, well no. We don't win that much. The traders, they don't have much. And there, all my social contributions, it's lost funds huh, they don't go into my pocket, they go for those who don't work. Luckily, I've bought some real estate that keeps me on my feet. Me what I want above all is that my children lack nothing. So what I earn more is for them. Life is too expensive. I have three sons, one who will be 53 years old, one 51 and one 48. And I have two who have come back to live here. One of them is a fisherman, but it's misery, it's all over, so he works for market gardeners now. And the other, since 2019, he can no longer walk. I'm taking care of them, I've just made them lunch for lunch: steak, spaghetti, tomato sauce.
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