A whirlwind of rants, thanks, relentless identification of typos… Every day, the email inbox of Release swells with letters. But this email, received at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, is out of place. “Forty-nine years ago, I contributed to the dissemination of Freed in the market in the 17th century [arrondissement] from Paris”, begins our reader, named Laura. And, forty-nine years ago, she published a small advertisement there, for which she now sends her thanks.
Laura’s announcement appeared in our edition of November 2, 1973, when the front page then illustrated yet another twist in the “Lip affair”, a famous social conflict taking place in a watch factory in Besançon (Doubs) and covered with enthusiasm by Release hungry for revolution.
In this year 1973, Release prints its first newspapers: number 1 piles up on newsstands on May 22. Eight pages sold at 80 centimes and blackened with sentences shaped by Maoist and anarchist ideas, in the fertile furrow of May 68. At his direction, Jean-Paul Sartre then set out to unite around him many intellectuals, left, actors of social movements… Laura, she campaigned at the time for a revolutionary and anti-capitalist charitable association whose French branch was also relaunched by the philosopher: the Secours rouge.
But above all, as she writes to us, she is pregnant with“an extremely difficult pregnancy”. The last two months, fortunately, she reports feeling better. Better to the point of “to forget myself and what was approaching”. Thus, fifteen or twenty days before giving birth, she worries: “I was going to have a child, I hadn’t prepared anything and I had little means to do it.” A friend then advises him: why not share an ad in Release ?
That year, the newspaper’s “free classified ads” section expanded little by little before becoming, over the 1970s, an emblem of the very spirit of our newspaper. Free and free, they give voice to those wishing to share their ideas. Until obtaining a very sulphurous reputation. A jumble of appeals for solidarity, anti-capitalist rants, comic and naughty writings rub shoulders. Classifieds tell the story of society as it is, with its areas of shadow and light. In his book Classifieds of Freed, Aurélie Walk quotes some of them: “Immigrant seeks woman to simulate marriage”, “Ouv. homosexual 26 years made guilty very unhappy ch. front contact homosexual or bisexual” or, “Ch. local in 13° pr center contraceptive inf. sexual abortions”.
The announcements that surround those of Laura on November 2, 1973 are much wiser, although sometimes crazy, between “selling a guitar”, “looking for a math teacher” Where “want to do a Paris-Dakar by velocipede” with “a madman ready to follow”. Quite simply, the words of the future mother slip down the left column: “Give birth in 3 weeks, need children’s equipment (basket, baby-relax…)”, including his name and address.
In the midst of this bric-a-brac, Laura’s announcement caught the attention of the newspaper’s readers. In barely ten days, she receives “everything you need and in perfect condition”, she says in her nocturnal email this Wednesday. Donations including a small bed from Le Havre, baby bottles, a pot to sterilize them, clothes… “I was deeply grateful,” she is moved. While regretting: “So far I have been unable to let everyone who has responded to my request know.”
Contacted by Release, Laura has not yet given more details on her journey. She doubts that the readers of the time still read the newspaper, the latter having “changed a lot, like everything”, she believes. Still, we try. If among you, readers, some have responded with good heart to a small ad nestled in the hollow of our pages almost half a century ago, know that the author now lives in Barcelona and is the mother of a daughter “became a splendid woman”.And especially that she has a word to share with you: “Thanks.”