Iron History

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07/08/2004 Entry: "7/9/2004: Arax Letter"

[We will resume the Strength & Health letters to the editor data soon, but wanted to insert some variety for you]

I had intended to scan the following letter so you could see the original handwriting, but it is tripled-spaced, so I decided to type the words instead.

This letter is not dated, nor does it name the receiver, it is signed by G. Arax, so I am assuming that to be the famous photographer.

On June 26, 1953 Professor Desbonnet died, so this letter was after- one presumes shortly after- the great Frenchman's demise. This letter tells us he died two days after his 85th birthday, so he was born Jun 24, 1868. As an interesting circumstance, consider that G. Arax himself died on June 27, 1975, and based on the following letter it is not a stretch to consider that Arax took note of the 22nd anniversary of Desbonnet's passing, not knowing he would die the next day in 1975.

"A great mourning has hit the 'physical society' in France and the whole world.

"Professor DESBONNET has left us forever. His name, which has shone throughout France and beyond it borders for more than 65 years, had become synonymous with health, beauty, and strength.

"How many hundreds of thousands of men and women have found the way to happiness, thanks to (the use of) his method. How many physically ill people, considered incurable, have regained their health, and thereby their joy of living, without counting those who, thanks to him, have created for themselves the enviable position of being banners of his doctrine throughout the world.

"Professor Desbonnet has proved to us, by his own person, the efficiency of his long-life formula. But how much we would have wished him still many more years of life, so that he could stay among us like a living symbol and a vigilant guardian of his doctrine, to raise, each time it was necessary, his authoritative voice against the abuses, against the false paths, which certain people don't hesitate to follow.

"But no fear of that, no danger that his work will disappear after his death.

"Hundreds of 'DESBONNET' schools are still standing, thousands of teachers that he trained, and hundreds of thousands of followers are there to continue his admirable work.

"This work, left to all of Humanity will be immortal and his name, already legendary, will enter into History.

"Just a few months ago, on these same pages, I dedicated a few lines of praise to him, on the occasion of his 85th birthday. I especially wished that, taking advantage of this happy occasion, the FFCPH and with it all his disciples, students, admirers and friends, would unite in a common spirit and with a common ideal, to celebrate his 85th birthday and the 65th anniversary as a leader, to thereby express to him, all the gratitude that his contemporaries owe him.

"At the very same moment when this happy demonstration would have been able to take place, we received the terrible news of his death, just two days after his birthday. And instead of the joy that this jubilant reunion should have caused, there were only tears of farewell in our eyes as we stood before his respected coffin.

"Thousands of people came to his funeral, and they were all profoundly moved.

"His intimate friend Pierre BARDEZ could hardly contain his emotion.

"Follows a list of some people who came and spoke at the funeral:

"BARDEZ compared his friend Desbonnet to Louis Pasteur, how they were both similarly outstanding in their field and contributed so much to humanity.

"Everyone presented their condolences to Mme. Desbonnet and the children and grand-children.

"The belgrans [? Unclear] will miss him also. He liked M. GARSOU, editor of 'Muscles', a lot.

"Two happy incidents in my life attach me particularly to his person and his work:

"The first was when I was an unknowing practitioner of his method as an adolescent of 12 yrs old, in a far off country under the direction of Professor CHRISSIAN, himself trained in the Desbonnet method first at Paris and then with his londonian [?] colleague Sandow from 1906 to 1909. I therefore owe him the debt of my excellent health and the good physical development that I've obtained and which consequently led me to athletic successes on the sports fields.

"For these two reasons, my devotion was complete and his friendship for me was without reserve, two reciprocal bonds, which were never abused during our long collaboration; of which I keep the fondest memory.

"Adieu, my dear master.

"Sleep your eternal sleep in peace, with the clear conscience and the deep satisfaction of having accomplished a great work for the good of your contemporaries and of future generations.

"May your words, your writings, and your cried of alarm be always heard and followed, for the regeneration of the race, for the happiness of all and for a strong, healthy, and beautiful; France.

"G. ARAX."