Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blind Cyclers in Paris


A Strange Procession on the Boulevard des Invalides on Thursdays.

In one of the most aristocratic quarters of the city, where the gilded dome of Napoleon's tomb and the twin towers of St. Francois Xavier are sentinels over historic association, lies the beautiful Boulevard des Invalides, a long, tree shaded avenue, where sounds march in list slippers and the perfume of flowering shrubs envelops the senses. One plump shoulder on the charming drive is made interesting by a little grouped commotion every Thursday afternoon. Through an imposing iron gateway into the center of the street is rolled a curious looking machine of the velocipede order. It consists of nine largest sized bicycles joined together in a chain by means of nickel bars, the guide, the second, in front.

In its wake follow eight young men of about 18, dressed in a uniform of dark blue, with gilt buttons, flat, cap and heels, the pantaloons neatly caught around the ankle by clamps. Neat cuffs and collars and well trimmed hair show careful attention to the person. The expression of the faces is cheerful, almost gay, the carriage straight and manly, but gentle and unforceful. This, with a certain timidity of bearing, takes one glance again to see that the party is entirely blind. They have walked through the gateway, crossed the sward and reached the queer machine without guide or direction and commence at once that Masonic trick of adjustment of wheel and handle known to the bicycle fraternity.

Chatting and smiling, each of the eight finds his special steed and stands beside it. — Fannie Edgar Thomas in Outing.

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