Volume 1 Number 1
The Resuscitations for Eternity Table
A Loving Memory of Rachel Morin
I keep company with ghosts
Gender roles in the Franco-American Culture
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE A FRANCO-AMÉRICAINE FEMME À LA NATURELLE ?
(A poem found in the on-line conversations of the FAWI)
I cannot believe you have your veil... yes...and I have one of making my first communion on my birthday... Heyy I just remember that i have a picture of myself as a first grader in nun regalia I was part of a skit on different careers/hobs/vocations. Is that appropriate for the table I will be displaying my Fist Communion dress and veil. I also have my First Communion certificate and my Confirmation certificate. I also found my eighth grade diploma. I found a picture of Sister Hitler, but she's not going to be on the table. She would spoil my day for sure. all the goodies...all of them...bring them all. How about Baptism pictures, First Holy Communion (You know the veil, white dress, white long stockings and white prayer book--almost made me look like I was an angel. How about the Crusader outfits--you know the crisp cotton tie on hats with the white capes emblazoned with the Red insignia-- How about pictures of confirmation--the bishops, the elegant Red and White garments we wore--all the pomp and circumstance? pagan baby certificates (some of the people in the class, including myself, thought they were actually going to receive a baby in the mail someday). "It was a very good thing. It taught us about charity and how to give to others less fortunate than we were." Mine is a little water stained "Get the stories, get the stories, get the stories---before the people are gone who can tell them. --Just everyday lives , lived in the shadow of, and in service to, the Franco male. Whenever we meet with these women and talk with them, their eyes open up and they start to see the value and richness of their lives and what they have to pass down to us. "indulgences for eternity", "holy cards", "shrines", and anything else that you can think of. For once in my life I would like to have a clear space to think and talk -I just thought of the little angel statues that I have --from my aunt who lived with us and taught me French. They are little porcelean (sp) angels and I can bring those too. The Resuscitations for Eternity Table who do they think donated all that money throughout the centuries to build those mighty cathedrals all over the damn universe? PEASANTS like us that's who. I've got praying hands that glow...my maman's favorite...they are on her tomb stone as well. How about an Infant Jesus of Prague that lights up? I never made a shrine, but I did purchase a little altar complete with candles. I wonder where it is today? Priez pour nous, priez pour nous...and so on. we ALL had to sing the Masses, vespers, holydays Pray for Us. Have I got Doilys! You bet THE RECIPE IS MISSING....I PUT IT AWAY WHERE I'D KNOW WHERE TO FIND IT IF EVER I GOT MORE GRAIN, NOW JUST LIKE AN OLD WOMAN I CAN'T REMEMBER WHERE I PUT IT! all those things are gone. So I have no doilies Every time we get something good going, the men want in. all the goodies...all of them...bring them all.All Contents are Copyright©Kim Chase, 1997
Jesus bloody bleeding in my best underwear Christ - - that "time of the month" again? Worse than paying a bill, never get the account settled. Always surprised, could eat nails I am so pissed; need the iron anyway. Bitching. have to go buy "supplies" biting the heads off hollow chocolate sales clerks... Feminine hygiene? like girls are dirty? guilt by association, as if guys don't have sweaty smelly bodies, pits and groins but that's manly yes and I like stew. this is business. uterus closed for resurfacing run D&C menopause take me away from this copper smell and I am the prisoner of gender. Blood time.. hate everyone.. pms psm msp...msg. for all I fucking care Big Jack forgives any sin but being woman born; bruise my heel Big Guy? Bite me, I dare you. Eve wanted to leave the garden... she was bored, couldn't wait to discover the joy of sex, of being sexed... couldn't wait to swell and swoon and generally be biologically determined. Thanks Big Jack... what a plan;. this is my body bloated with pain and fashion statements mutilated to men's vanity eat this in remembrance of me but never in the blood time... came through it but don't taste it you might remember and be grateful that it is the tree bearing the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil; Eve smuggled out a cutting between her legs. You only think it is a clitoris In the blood time there is not forgiveness, there is no welcome abandon all hope ye who enter there... and don't think you're getting in cheap... I want blood of my own. Blood lust. Blood frenzy. Bloody pissed off. Too close and I will rend you into blood bits, spattering your insipid manhood like Lorena Bobbit at the deli... good deal. how could I have forgotten thought I was immune to the pull of the red river rushing, snaking down my leg, Blood time and I am hostage to the life force, biological pawn, oh, you're soaking in it. The henna in my hair highlights the curious roselike petals and I am swollen with contempt that I must ransom my life with..what the fuck is sanitary about napkins and invade the space with an amputated finger tampon. pull back boys.... thigh smears you look surprised and I am copper contempt how did you think Jesus H. Christ got here in the blood time I sacrifice myself on a gender chain take me down and sink me I hate, Irate, I hate that I am prisoner and cannot escape the philosophy of the uterus not a tracking device or a hotel just a big muscle with attitude. I want my own penis to flip over my shoulder -yahoo- and wave all around I want to dip it in your blood time and write my name on the wall of your insides. You know, sometimes I just don't feel fresh. July 28, 1996
Herr Doctor, Pater, before you peeled away my outer skin with a piece broken bottle jag, I was uniform, whole, but now the skeleton is exposed, the neural infrastructure lies open to air, and the raw flesh shows marks of artificial creation. When I dream, I am a conglomeration of your dreams; should I be grateful I never sleep? Carrying my scars on the outside, I keep the beauty of a watermelon moon inside secrets. Did you know how the parts and the whole would mingle and dissolve in anguished rhapsody? Search the fever pockets of your mad memories and tell me if you intended that I wander and wonder alone. Monster. May 3, 1997
For Ziegfreid When you descend into Hades hellbound by ancient promises, look up through root and rock and picture me, a lonely goddess, duty bound to move through green and gold, dance through to harvest sadness, waiting impatiently for Charon to ferry my heart back to me. I give the Earth the life I once gave you, cursing the pomegranate but never the beloved eater. April 29, 1997
For Ziegfreid Dreams are prophecy to those who rarely frequent Morpheus' adamantine halls. Wandering alone, I stopped to stare at tapestries and masques of love But then a darkman came luminescent, dividing my night into moonmist and shadow Diana, sheath your silver arrow. I am already pierced. Does it matter whether it is yours or Eros'? Skeptical of virgin birth, your soulson offers the sensuality you fear. Drenched in jasmine, he strews rose petals in my path and I stop, afraid; you are never kind to those who love your chosen. No chaste priestess, I would lie down with him by self-reflecting pools, take him on a verdant caress of moss with my siren's watermagic streaming over the darkman, consciousness overflowing. taking down first his hair, intertwining my alabaster hands with the onyx of his mane, as I let him unbraid mine. Baring passion's breast to draw my own bow, you are not the only huntress in the woods. Diana, his words are ambrosia for a starving soul too long hungered for the kindred honey, spirit of affection Bees do not resist nectar; why must I when a darkman comes, luminescent, dividing my night into moonmist and shadow? April 1, 1997
to Ziegfreid Rising defiantly, from weathered winter sands, a single naked pipe, still erect on the beach speaks eloquently of loss. Islands of desire, we sit knee to knee on barely felt barnacle-encrusted rocks, words flowing in tidesoft whispers. Passion erodes the line of reason and my resolve is worn smooth, bitter and perfect as mermaid's tears. April 5th, 1997 Southwest Harbor, Maine
God, this is a prayer to you. A prayer of reason to know sorrow's caretaker Barn door of the life-- you knew me to belong to. Caught on a rug's snare A chicken scream cut across the barn to the other side where my brother worked. Only to keep me company those times when I remember well my youth. Record this or resemble that. I cannot be valued graveside only buried the tears will flow. fall. on deaf ground. Each time I see more clearly (the evil) he lives. I'm sure he forgets me at each beat. I ask for the truth-- he can keep the rest of his junk. A trip to France with an eaten-alive bug-infested dog flea-bag ridden damp, shit-encrusted attitude belonging to yesterday. The meanness therein floats on some kind of blasphemy my direct way of being confounding the expected. How long will it take before he hits me the final time? Money attached abuse paid abuser. Or when the truth of hate emerges. The I don't care of disregard already present has more to do with the sick sorrow symbolizing a life. we don't lead. or never cared to. In the cascade of life melting into being with each person grown late or sad I say sorrow because my day keeps becoming me. I find I am tired worn down thin confused detained in creation, God's pinky scantily pressed against my chest-- exacts my fervency in the currency sorrow. Sorrow, a talcum-- a patina of dust blue, blown and willowy an erasure of odors sweet to medium joy who can be taken easily mistaken, as flower to be baked after kneading Sorrow's dusting pie-bound joy or bread dough long time sorrow. I take my gut wrenching sorrow wring it out dry to the bone to leave watermarks on the paper and benchmarks, where the day worn weary blows me into lines of other sorrows hung out to dry in a sun meant for more than one heartache. to be hated is inconsequential. because the hate lasts only a short while and crumbles underneath its own weight. The unblessed unsactioned are the ponies in a pasture come spring time Barn doors of disgust swing wide open to the air long kept tight close. dust ridden salt taste on the shaft of light-- born pollen a sparkle like magic waves of wand serpentine sorrow snaking out the door past the way of mice-scurry on toward an abandoned bailer to cry the wheat to hay gold a silken thread happiness sparked with the misunderstood. Wallowing swimming against the tide unhappy once undone shorn, shallow shoals. I find kind people in strange towns on corners and the day passes quickly against itself boat in the open waters throttle full open and the sadness laps its waves against my heart soul drenched with tears. I keep company with ghosts. They keep me busy guessing jumping sideways or to the tops of trees spying on me reading what I write over my shoulder gazing down on me As I sleep like a mother worried about her sorrow sadder than she was in her youth. Only to remember days of deep melancholy rain pounding at the windows loneliness thick as cheese tiredness ground into her bones from the cares of ghosts of the days long-lived they keep dying-- to watch her live. Late 1995 or Early 1996
Franco-Americans are descendants of French Canadian immigrants. They make up approximately 40% of the population of the state of Maine. Franco-Americans go pretty much unnoticed because they have been traditionally quiet and unassuming, living private lives, maintaining their French language and culture for generations. The French have been in North America since the 17th century. Those settling in Quebec were descendants of explorers and soldiers. They established themselves by trapping and farming. Others settling in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island came from one area in Western France where they were servants and laborers to the French royalty. These French people became known as Acadians as France named this part of the world Acadia, which we now know as Nova Scotia, when they were in control. Acadians were creative farmers and fishermen. The French and English fought many battles with the French finally withdrawing, leaving the French Canadian settlers behind. The Acadians were subjected to a brutal deportation starting in 1755 which left them very scattered. Some were able to escape hiding out in the woods. Others were taken to points along the Eastern Coastline and some making their way to Louisiana. Others spent the rest of their lives traveling back to Acadia to find their families. The English had separated the men from their wives and children sending them away at different times. The French of Northern Maine are mostly of Acadian descent. The Québecois who settled in the United States did so throughout Western Maine (Rumford, Lewiston, Skowhegan, Biddeford), Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, along with upstate New York. Their migration was on the land bridges across the border separating the United States and Canada. The purpose of migration was the same for all -- work, mostly in the woods and mills. "Gender roles are the values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors defined by a society as masculine or feminine" (Werrbach, 1996). Sex-specific roles are well defined in Franco-American societies. Tasks between men and women were seldomed shared. The man's role was to exercise authority, to punish behavior, and to provide protection and economic support. They worked in woolen mills, paper mills, shoe shops, in harvesting wood and farming. They worked very hard for very little pay. The days were very long and usually six out of seven each week. Alcohol was a big part of a Franco man's life. Having been conquered by the English, left here by the French, not able to provide for his family in Canada, leaving to come to the States, not speaking the language, and being confined in a mill all day may be some of the factors leading to the excessive use of alcohol. At some levels, French men felt they were entitled to drink and women did not or could not argue. In Franco societies the man is always in authority. The Catholic Church has played a big role in defining gender roles for the French by setting the man up as an authority figure and moral leader. The woman's role was to take care of the house, raise the children, and manage life for the family. She was expected to have many children, take care of everyone, raise a garden, take care of animals, cook, clean, clean, clean, nurse, teach and provide sex on demand. French women were also expected to look and act like saints in public but privately were seen as sexually desirable. The Catholic Church has also defined the role of the French woman by raising up the submissiveness and purity of the Blessed Mother as a role model. She was also seen as the hope for survival of the culture as she was able to have children. When women married they were expected to leave their single friends and stay at home with their husband and children. Men were allowed to keep their friends and outside interests for life. Infants were always welcomed as a gift from God but male children were hoped for and were more likely to be pampered by the mother. Girls were raised to serve while boys were raised to protect and provide. Mothers continue a close relationship with their children throughout their lives. She often becomes an ally and mediator for the children with the father. Fathers are treated with respect often times bordering on fear. Being the authority figure often puts barriers between a father and his children. In old age, women become revered and respected as the mainstay of the family. They are looked to for strength of spirit, moral support, wisdom, continuity of the culture, and connectedness to the extended family. For men, old age is not necessarily so kind. Years of hard physical labor, alcohol abuse and abuse of their authority, oftentimes leave them at a loss as to what their role is. They have been defined pretty much by their work and when that ends, they are left a bit adrift. They sometimes find themselves needing to be cared and provided for providing a great blow to their pride. Family patterns changed after World War II. Franco-American's became more mobile and moved to larger cities and away from their extended families. The close knit families continued but from a distance. Young people today have gotten college educations, lost their French language, have limited commitment to the Catholic Church, and have become materialistic. Franco-Americans have become more assimilated and in some cases don't even know who they are as a culture. In the attempt to help their children be successful in the United States, Franco-Americans of past generations have sacrificed much as they gave up their language, in some cases, their name, and remained invisible so as not to embarrass their educated children. Gender roles, for the most part, are still defined by sex-specific duties but are becoming blurred. The feminist movement in this country has had an impact on Franco families but at a slower rate than mainstream America. Intermarriage with other cultures, mostly with other Catholic cultures, and public school attendance have also changed the commitment to traditional culture. There appears to be a resurgence to ethnicity recently. Being bilingual is now being looked at as providing more opportunities in the global business trade and institutions are being asked to develop multicultural programs to meet requirements for financial assistance. As the world continues to get smaller, diversity is becoming necessary to survival. Work Sited Ethnicity and Family Therapy, The Guilford Press, NY. 1982. "French Canadian Families," Langelier, Régis, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada Quintal, Claire. "Historical and Cultural Introduction," Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts Werrbach, James. "Masculine Gender Role," EAP Messenger, October, 1996. Personal interviews with ten Franco-American women between the ages of forty and ninety-five who came from several places in New England and had different life experiences. All Contents are Copyright©Lanette Landry Petrie, 1997
Back To Table of Contents
1. You know you are a Franco femme when you change the subject five times in one
sentence without even thinking about it.
2. You know you are a Franco femme when you are listening to someone speak and they change the subject five times in one sentence and everything they say makes perfect sense to you.
3. You know you are a Franco femme when the walls of your maman's and grandmere's kitchen are experienced as a visit to a private art exhibit.
4. You know you are a Franco femme when you hear the new world french spoken and in your heart you hear a melody that the most remarkable song bird cannot sing.
5. You know you are a Franco femme when the church and it's traditions has an overwhelming power over you--even when you have abandoned the traditional church teachings.
6. You know you are a Franco femme when you have an ability to freely Laugh Out Loud at yourself and your peers and it's okay with your soeurs.
7. You know you are a Franco femme when your closet is full of life-sized statues of the Virgin Mary, First Communion Veils, jetons, holy pictures and Midnight Mass gowns.
8. You know you are a Franco femme when you believe that nuns float two inches above the floor in much the same manner that Jesus walked on water.
9. You know you are a Franco femme when your heart beats in an unique franco rhythm with your franco soeurs hearts as you share your upbringings, your fears, your pain, your joy, and your dreams .
10. You know your are a Franco femme when your heart swells with pride every time your soeur succeeds.
11. You know you are a Franco femme when your heart breaks in pain as the uninformed tell their dumb frenchmen jokes.
12. You know you are a Franco femme when you know you will break the silence that for generations has been imposed upon you and your soeurs.
13. You know you are a Franco femme when in a many situations you clearly understand the meaning of being an hyphenated American (Franco-American).
14. You know you are a Franco femme when everyone expects you to do everything and you just do it naturally and you do it with love.
15. You know you are a Franco femme when you hear the Star Spangled Banner and see the American flag raised and it is almost impossible to contain your joy and pride and at the same time....
16. You know you are a Franco femme when you hear O Canada and watch as the beautiful Maple Leaf flag is raised and your heart and mind flood with memories of your maman, your papa, and all those who gave you your rich heritage.
Indeed, the Franco femme is the genuine natural woman. Vive la Franco femme a la naturelle.
Bonita Parent-Grindle. June 5, 1997. Franco American Women's Institute.
(All portions of the above are copyrighted and by law may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author and the Franco American Women's Institute.
Many of these recipes have stories that go with them. You can find a recipe to make soap - (that's right, soap to clean), as well as soup to eat. There are recipes for boudin, corton, root beer, mincemeat, white perch chowder and rabbit pie, as well as delicious cakes, cookies, pies, and much more. All this in a spiral bound format on antique white paper with "old" pictures on the cover and section dividers.
The proceeds from this cookbook will go towards the cost of producing another book (in process) with stories taken from oral interviews with people who resided on French Island during this same time frame, at least 200 pictures, maps and U.S. Census, as well as a history of the Island, and more.
Nos Histoires de l'Ile is a non-profit group working to preserve the oral, living-history of these Franco-Americans.
To order or for more information contact Amy Morin at: Tel. 207/581-4220
You can contact Amy at her email address: Amy_Morin@voyager.umeres.maine.edu
154 College Avenue
Orono, ME 04473
Sous la direction de/Under the direction of Claire Quintal
500 Salisbury Street
P.O. Box 15005
Worcester, Ma 01615-0005
This book contains the stories of individual lives and studies of Franco-American women as a group. You will learn about les filles du roi, who left France in the 17th century to become wives and mothers in the New World of an untamed continent, and about farmers' daughters who left Canada in the 19th century to become workers in the new world of the Industrial Revolution.
Behind each story, there is a face, that of yesteryear and that of today. Each account bears the imprint of courage and perseverance against great odds. Each face bears witness tothe endurance and abnegation which characterized these women, generation after generation.
To order: Send $14.95/US and $3 postage/handling to:
500 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Ma 01615-0005
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Last updated June 17, 1997