MOUNT VERNON — Sometimes, life throws you a curveball.
When that happens, an individual can do one of two things — duck or stay in the box and try to hit it.
Forty-four years ago, Jean-Pierre Villemalard and a group of friends got a nasty curveball thrown their way. Twenty-six French teenagers were traveling around the United States in 1967 when their chaperone took off with their money, leaving them stranded in Knox County with nothing but a plane ticket from New York City to Paris.
That’s when fate stepped in for Villemalard.
The group found hospitality in the residents of Mount Vernon, who took care of them in the form of a place to stay, food and jobs in an effort to help them get back to New York City in time for the flight.
“Our chaperone had taken off with our money, so we were stuck here. We had no money to get back to New York,” said Villemalard, who was in town this weekend for a family reunion. “With the mayor’s (Mark Kinney) help, we cleaned windows and mowed grass to get enough money to get back to New York.”