Remembrances of Bloody Mary
By Jerry Manriquez, Fox Division, USS Des Moines Web Master
I served aboard the USS Des Moines CA-134 from December 24, 1958 until September 1960. The Ship was home ported in Villefranche, France. Not long after I arrived in France I was on liberty drinking with my shipmates in one of the many of the bars in town. The door opened and a short heavyset old woman holding a number of bouquets of flowers would shuffle into the bar. She
had long stingy gray-brown hair, a long coat, and was not the cleanest person I have seen.
The flowers looked like they had been picked out of a green house trash can. She approached our table and offered a bouquet to one of us. If you said no, she would grab the back of your neck and squeeze very hard. So you gave her some money and she would go on to the next person. It seemed like I saw her every time we were in port.
I was told by someone, either a shipmate or bar owner that her name was Bloody Mary. They said she was in the French Resistance during World War II and was captured by the Germans. She had escaped and when they caught her and they cut the Achilles tendon in her heels as punishment for running away. Someone said she lived in Nice, but if so why would she spend the money to
travel all the way to Villefranche to sell her flowers?