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Remembering NPR Essayist Alice Furlaud

Alice Furlaud was a ray of light: a graceful writer, with a fresh, unfiltered view of the world, who had maybe the most prized asset a writer can have — an utterly distinct voice.

Ally contributed essays and stories to NPR over the years, for about as long as this place has been in business. Her pieces from Paris were fabled: wry but warm essays that meandered like a stroll through through the streets.

She once insisted that a French government ministry deployed couples of young lovers to spark with one another in landmark spots to promote Paris as the City of Love. She said she sat on a park bench with the ex-French army colonel who headed the ministry, as he checked up on his hard-smooching soldiers of romance:

Col. Auguste Violet Le Du Beres: "Most charming, most charming."

Alice Furlaud: "It is lovely, isn't it, and they're --"

Beres: "You're not lacking in charm yourself, if I may say so."

Furlaud: "Oh now, now. Well, we're — well, the benches are awfully full. It's sort of every other bench. There's either an old lady or --"

Beres: "Yes."

Furlaud: "some children --"

Beres: "Yes."

Furlaud: "... and quite a lot of couples, but I mean, they're real couples, aren't they?"

Beres: "Well, you see, I don't know exactly what you mean by 'real couples,' but some of them are our people, of course."

Furlaud: "Oh, well, not really."

Beres: "They are doing very nice. There is a young man with a Mickey Mouse sweater. He --"

Furlaud: "Oh, heavens, and his girl."

Beres: "They're apprentices, actually. I think — I have to make a note of this — I think he's going a little bit too far."

Furlaud: "Oh, my heavens."

Beres: "But what he learns by doing it."

The role of the "ministry official," Col. Beres, was in fact played by Max Furlaud, a psychotherapist, and Ally's husband and running mate for 48 years.

They lived in Paris, California, Cap Cod, Mass., and Switzerland at different times. Wherever their enthusiasms led, their love for one another always at the center.

Max died in 1999. Ally continued to give us the gift of her essays now and then, many about animals, including an obituary for her cat, Ms. Pudding, in 2006. They were growing old together, and Ally worried that one day Ms. Pudding would knock a pencil from her nightstand to wake her up, but Ally would be gone.

Ally Furlaud died this week, at the age of 87. It's good to know that good friends are waiting for her.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

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