National Geographic : 1952 May
/UZ !} rrlca., Tella bUalO Smiling Fishermen Set the Mood for Battered Dunkirk, Rising from Its Rubble Beret, wooden shoes, and a pocketful of twine are standard equipment of these men who haul nets off France's North Sea port. Here more than 300,000 Allied troops escaped German entrapment in 1940's historic evacuation to Britain. Abandoned ruins, toll of bomb and shell, still scar the face of Dunkirk (Dunkerque). age-old search of youth for the simple free dom of the road. For 15 minutes we played guessing games as to one another's nationality (people seldom mistake an American!) and discussed rigors and rewards of thumbing. Then we heard the motor start, wished them luck, and ran. Like a youngster determined to keep awake for Santa, I fell asleep crossing the misty flats of the Netherlands in spite of a fixed resolu tion to see the Arnhem countryside. I not only missed the battlefield but slept right through a heavy thunderstorm. At the Belgian frontier the refrigerators were unlocked and the mussels displayed to the customs authorities. Everything was in order and off we drove. "Hey!" chorused the now wide-awake pas sengers. "You didn't give us a chance to have our passports stamped!" "Don't be silly," the drivers answered us. "They never bother with such." Visions of tangling with the law as we left the country again danced before us. Oh, well! A night in jail would be a fitting climax to any thumbs-up adventure. Brussels, perhaps more than any other city in Europe, has a reputation for catering to the inner man. We came, we saw, and were con quered. Nothing, ever, anywhere has tasted so good as the shrimp-stuffed tomatoes which prefaced our first Belgian meal (page 701).* * See "Belgium Comes Back," by Harvey Klemmer, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, May, 1948.