In search of Conchita Lopez, the unknown person from the Paris metro letters

Mathieu Duflot constantly has a wandering eye. In the metro, the streets of Paris, this IT manager picked up a thousand objects. Pieces. Tickets. “Even a Cartier watch that I sold to Drouot a long time ago for 40,000 francs,” or 8 500 euros, he says. But what he found this Monday, January 14, 2002 at Nation station, on his way home from work, turned out to be more singular. In the middle of the line 6 platform, a sheaf of documents is placed on an aluminum trash can.

“From the yellowed paper, the blue-white-red border of certain “airmail” envelopes, I immediately saw that they were old letters,” the browser still remembers. Neither one nor two, he grabs them and takes them to his home, three minutes away. It was in his living room, while detailing these papers that same evening, that he understood how extraordinary his loot was: “All these letters on a trash can, it was really weird. Some seemed very intimate. In the pile, there was even a will. »

His partner at the time, Florence Evrard, intrigued, decided to find out more. Not for a second does she imagine that her incredible investigation will last for years, will lead her into the secret world of lesbian cabarets in Paris, that she will encounter the shadows of Marlene Dietrich and Orson Welles, and will discover the complex lives of homosexuals in the post-war years. Nor that the little pile of letters follows the death of one woman and announces another.

Twenty-two years after seeing them for the first time, Florence Evrard still considers the forgotten papers of the Métro Nation as her ” treasure “. In the apartment she still occupies in this district of eastern Paris, this 57-year-old woman fetches the delicate Japanese box where she has stored everything and carefully unfolds each document on the living room table. The peel papers crack. Dust more than half a century old tickles the nostrils.

Letters and documents found in January 2002 in the Paris metro, investigated by Florence Evrard.  In Paris, in October 2023.

Twenty-eight letters and postcards in total, dated from 1938 to 1976. Female signatures only, preceded by various tender words. “Your Maha who loves you with all her loving heart. » “Lots of kisses, I hold you very tightly against me. Ingrid. » “I only think of you”, writes Maria Luisa, a young divorcee, mother of one, who promises to send a lock of hair “as soon as I have washed my head.”

Or again, from a certain Mireia: “My love, I miss you a lot, a lot more than when we first separated. » From Barcelona, ​​Mireia specifies in the same letter that her husband has decided to leave her, which does not sadden her in the least: “It’s difficult when a man and a woman live together but never sleep together. » Among the documents are also a map of Sarthe cut out from a 1939 newspaper, the menu of an engagement meal from April 1947, a recipe for Cantonese rice and a will. Strange cocktail.

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