Jan and Cora Gordon: The Apache in pre-WW1 Paris

I recently bought a 1907 copy of "Le Petit Journal", which has a famous cover illustrating the unequal struggle between the Paris police and the "Apache".

"L'Apache est la plaie de Paris" - More than 30,000 prowlers against 8,000 city policemen

Jan Gordon (under pseudonym "Salis") mentions the "apache" in a 1916 piece in "The New Witness": "One Christmas in particular sticks in my memory. A baker's dozen of us, the thirteenth an airman, had supped upon shell-fish and snails at an oyster den frequented by the Apache."

I was not familiar with the term "apache" in this context, but learned that it refers to a Parisian violent criminal underworld subculture of the early 20th century.

Francis Carco quotes verses dedicated by André Salmon (1881-1969) to the "apache" gangsters of the time in his "Tendres Canailles" (1912): "Partageant mon vin, des filous; M'ont laissé caresser leurs armes."

A pleasing aspect of this issue of "Le Petit Journal" is that it dates from about the time (2006-2008) that Jan and Cora Gordon established themselves, separately, in Paris.


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