Stairs at Versailles
This first-hand anecdote comes as something of a confession, now that all applicable statutes of limitation have doubtless expired:

President Edgar Brossard, a former U. S. Trade Commissioner and accustomed to being a big shot, had bequeathed to President Rulon T Hinckley a very interesting mission automobile. I can’t confirm the story, but Mission scuttlebutt had it that (1) when he arrived in Paris, he ordered and received a black Citroën exactly like President Charles de Gaulle’s favorite vehicle; and that (2) those two were the only such ones there were. Like all top-of-the-line Citroëns, it sported a little lever by the driver’s left knee with which the driver could vary the height of its undercarriage above the road.

Well, when I came to the Staff in January, 1963, this big, black car was among the oldest in the Mission’s fleet, and we drove it, now and then, on various sorts of mission business. One day, I drew the assignment to take a missionary to a dentist at the U. S. military base near Versailles. On the way back, we (well, I) got lost. We found ourselves at the top of a bluff, looking down at our objective, the D113 highway along the Seine. Between us and the road, a long flight of concrete stairs was clearly intended for pedestrians, not for us.

OK, so call me a young idiot (though an Elder), but I decided to take the direct approach. Raising the suspension control lever to its topmost position (and thereby basically disabling the vacuum devices that served as its springs), I directed the big, black car down those stairs. Slowly, and quite bumpily, but deliberately.

Well, we made it, without discernible damage to the President’s fancy vehicle, nor, as far as we could tell, to the order of the universe.

Enough confession, for this time around?

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