Volume 1 Number 3
Fall and Winter 1997
La Revanche des Berceaux
"Woodstock 69" The Nurses Odyssey
Tickling the Past
191.,October 3, 1997
Child-rearing in the Franco-American Culture
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE A FRANCO-AMÉRICAINE FEMME À LA NATURELLE ?
Comparative Culture Writing
My Grandfather - a memory
Also A review of Wednesday's Child
"Maman always said I was Saturday's child," my mother said, smoothing the page with the poem opening Rhea's novel, Wednesday's Child. Saturday's child works hard for a living. Like her mother before her, my mother, Lenore Provost Langellier, worked hard for a living, first as an Illinois farmer's wife raising ten children. Then in her 50s, after my father became blind, she got her high school diploma and a year of training to work as a licensed practical nurse until retirement. She still works hard, of course. Humble by nature and Franco-American culture, she says with a laugh that at 77 there's a few things she can't do but she can work circles around people half her age. And that's no joke. Recently, she visited me in Maine, her first trip out since my dad, her husband of 56 years, died last October. We talked about her childhood, and as I listened, I wondered "which child am I?" looking for resemblances not just between her and me but also between the Midwest Franco-American experience and what I've learned through my FAWI femmes about Franco-American women in Maine.
Because it was her birthday, I asked her if she had any parties when she was a little girl. Only one, she replied, shared with her sister Dorene. My mother was born July 31, 1920, the second of seven children and the oldest daughter, to Nelda Bouchard and Lawrence Provost in St. George, Illinois, the name conferred by the Catholic church centering the town. Families were close, and mother described how her mother hosted one dinner after another for relatives throughout the year. The legacy of food and visiting survives today, embodied in the Cousins Club. The cousins of the Club, no boys allowed, are women related through their mothers, the Bouchard sisters. They have been meeting continuously each month since 1961. In the earlier years they rotated among their homes for a meal and card-playing, but more recently they go to a restaurant to eat and then adjourn to a cousin's house for some 500 (a version of euchre), but mostly for fun and talk. My mother and Dorene joined the club about fifteen years ago, when my mother retired from nursing. In the last few years, Aunt Myrtle, the last surviving member of the twelve Bouchard children, joined, sharing family history with her nieces.
My mother doesn't know where either the Bouchards or the Provosts came from in Canada nor exactly how they got to French settlements like St. George, Bourbonnais, St. Anne, in Illinois. But it's certain they were French. As a child, my mother learned her prayers in French, later to be relearned in English. Her parents were bilingual, speaking both languages at home, but reverting animatedly to French whenever they dropped in to see Mémère LeSage in Kankakee. Although opportunities to converse declined, "Maman never lost her French," my mother told me. Wintering in Florida in their later years, her parents met another elderly French couple. Her mother corresponded with this woman, translating her letters aloud for my mother to enjoy. The expression that my mother recalls most vividly is ferme ta bouche, as when Cousin Toni says, "I'm gonna tell you just like my mother told us: 'ferme ta bouche.'" It survives among the grandchildren today, transformed to a private family language and testimony to our roots.
Papa Provost bought a farm near St. George in 1917 or 1918, my mother recalls. Aunt Regina and Uncle Gene Granger lived on the farm one mile north, Aunt Delia and Uncle George Dupuis on the farm one mile south, and the three families "did everything together:" butcherings, barbering, and birthing babies. My mother describes a father who was frugal, shrewd, and hard- working, and the only one to keep his farm during the losses of the Depression. "We just had the necessities," but others in the family "lived higher than us," she commented. Papa predicted, "'they're gonna lose their farms'-- and they did," the last phrase set off, the last word stressed to avoid any mistake about the moral of the story. Family lesson learned and passed on. During the Depression years, the collector appeared at the farm once a year. While Grandma and the children watched from the house (in a scene I imagine from Steinbeck), Papa met him in his car and got in to "do some fast talking," Somehow Papa managed to raise the $800 interest due each year, but it was only at the end of World War II that he paid the farm off, paving the way for a modest prosperity and the purchase of "one farm after another."
The Depression years were difficult, but the family never went hungry. "Maman always canned everything" vegetables, fruit, and meat. The winter activities of butchering and canning meat took days of work, shared by women and men. First came the boudin (blood sausage), later the head cheese (fromage de tête), and last the cracklings rendered from the lard, what my mother calls grattons and what we call creton in Maine, a pork spread for bread. My mother remembers canning tomatoes one long day, Grandma seated, particularly tired with a leg aching from varicose veins, when a jar burst, spilling the steaming tomatoes onto her lap and burning her leg. On another canning day Grandma asked my nine-year-old mother and Dorene to fill the cob basket from the shed to fuel the fire under the processing tomatoes. The little girls decided to count all the cobs in the basket, totally absorbed, their chore forgotten, until Grandma came to find out why her tomatoes weren't cooking. I remember Grandma Provost as an affable but no- nonsense woman with whom my sister Celeste and I spent a week the summers around age ten, when she reprimanded my kitchen floor sweeping. "You're just tickling it," she said, showing me the correct technique, briskly stabbing at the floor with the broom.
When another baby was coming, Papa would go get Aunt Regina in the buggy. Midwife to the family, Aunt Regina came early and stayed a week or more with each birth. No prenatal care in those days, Grandma would simply stop by the doctor's office in Kankakee about a month before to tell him he'd have to come out again. Such was the routine of the birth my mother remembers first and most well. But this baby was breech and "the doctor came too late," my mother cryptically explained, describing how the infant's arms flapped as she suffocated. At school my mother and the siblings saw Papa go by in the buggy, with a little white box in the back, so they suspected the tragedy before they got home. My mother repeats how badly Grandma felt, to lose a "perfectly healthy" baby girl. As was custom, they had the wake at home in the parlor, surrounded by family.
Many of my images of my mother and my grandmother envision them at work, but my mother recalled the fun times, too. The oldest four children, for example, sang with their parents. "We sang in different parts I want you to know," and not just at home but for school and local programs, my mother's "knees rocking" from nervousness. I imagine them as the Von Provost Family Singers. After shelling, a room in the corn crib became a playhouse with large boxes made into a piano. Summer nights when the cousins came over to get their hair cut by Grandpa, all the kids played hide and seek, scampering like squirrels up the crib walls with their bare toes wedged between the slats, laughing and calling in the darkness.
Although there was a Catholic school at St. George parish, the children walked to the one-room country school, taught by Mrs. Beauclaire from Bourbonnais, except on bad days when Grandpa picked up all the kids on the road in his Klondike buggy with the windshield. Catholic education consisted solely of preparation for the sacraments. Still, religion ordered their lives; "we were all one thing," my mother comments, meaning Catholic. Sunday was often the only day they "got out," and the church was the social center with its dances and annual homecomings. As for education, "Papa and Mama didn't believe too much in that," my mother said. All but the youngest two children quit school after eight grade and making the journey to the big courthouse in Kankakee to take the Constitution test. To attend high school, Grandpa would have to drive them over the mud road each day, and "besides they'd hear about little things at the high school and didn't want their kids into any of that." The original home schooling.
So after completing eighth grade, my mother went to work keeping house for a Jewish family in Kankakee, earning five dollars a week. With the first money she earned, she had a telephone installed at home so she could talk from Kankakee with her mother. She also bought her mother other gifts, among them the family's first Christmas tree and a magazine rack she now has inherited. She worked for this family until age 21, when she married my father and they moved to Martinton with Mémère Cyrier and Grandma Langellier for the first two babies. Pregnant with my sister Joan, they moved to what I know as my homeplace, the farm on which we were tenants for the next eight babies and over twenty years. About her large family, my mother says simply, "you know, I loved babies and it never bothered me to have another. We always made room." When others began "limiting their families," as she puts it, "I just didn't do that. I tried it and I always felt guilty. It didn't take with me!"
A couple of years before Dad died, one blustery Christmas vacation, she invited my brother Kevin and me to the cemetery where our brother Craig is buried to see the gravestone she had gotten for him and for her and Dad. It wasn't an outing I'd been particularly looking forward to, but I consented, discerning the importance to her of having things prepared and settled. Their marker is commonplace enough, a low, rectangular gray granite with LANGELLIER carved in the center, Dad's and her names and birth dates below. "It's very nice," I murmured, somewhat miserably. Then she beckoned me behind the gravestone marker and pointed. "What?" I wondered. Inscribed on the back were all our first names, the ten children, five in a column, in order: Lawrence, Dennis, Joan, Craig, Kristin, Celeste, Kevin, Keith, Darryl, Colette. "You don't have to be buried here," she hastened to tell me, "but I just wanted them there." A pause. "One dollar for each letter. Sixty dollars. Not bad."
In her late forties, when my father's eyesight was failing (from macular degeneration) and I was in high school, my mother was in high school, too. She, Dorene, and another woman from the community drove three nights a week to Watseka, and then they took the two days of tests to earn the GED, my mother "so darn nervous" she went blank and didn't pass the first time. When it became clear that my father had to quit farming, she initiated another plan: to become a licensed practical nurse. Although my father was supportive, he "didn't believe I'd really do that." After all, my mother didn't get a driver's license until her forties, and she had never driven the 25 miles to Kankakee alone. Let alone the rigorous program at her age and three children still at home. But she enrolled and began a very demanding year of commuting, studying, and training at several different regional hospitals. "It was a rough year," she understates; and it's from this experience that she always praises my academic degrees and professional achievements. And then, as gracefully as they'd managed the traditional expectations for husband and wife, my mother and father changed roles. My father got the three kids meals and ready for school each day, and at age 52 my mother went to work nights at the hospital, 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., so that she'd be home when the kids got home from school and not miss any evening school programs. My dad always joked about the two dollars cash she'd ask him for each night before starting off, a cheap date.
It was after her night shift several years ago that my husband and I met Mom in Kankakee, and then we all went to Grandma Provost's for breakfast. We had a nourishing farm breakfast, including a helping of Grandma's daily stewed prunes, and then we set off for home and some sleep for my mother. En route we ran into a blinding blizzard, wind blasting snow across flat, black winter fields. In the white out, we drove the car gently into the ditch of a slight valley and stuck firmly. Abandoning the car, we linked arms to stay together against the fierce wind and driving snow and slowly made our way to the nearest farmhouse where we called for a tow truck. Remarkably, it came, but the lack of visibility made a rescue of the car too dangerous, and so we returned to Kankakee in the tow truck.
Not too long after seeing us off, Grandma Provost found us again on her doorstep, again hungry and this time soaked to the skin and shivering. We dressed in her and Grandpa's clothes until ours dried. She cleaned a chicken for our midday meal, unperturbed by the prospect of feeding three more people, she cleaned the store-bought chicken so thoroughly. "You have to clean it so well because they don't." And then I remembered watching my mother clean the chickens she'd just slaughtered in the yard: the colorful entrails, the corn-encrusted crop, the bluish gizzard splayed out on newspapers on the worn drop-leaf table, the smell of burning pin feathers over the gas burner, carcass held aloft by the orange chicken feet, in our old kitchen. As Grandma Provost scraped the clinging entrails out of the cavity, she chatted about her honeymoon train ride and her granddaughter, my cousin Kathy, who was dissecting brains as part of her medical studies. We had mashed potatoes with the chicken, made with both butter and cream, and generous salt and pepper were they ever good. And that ended up being the last time I saw my Grandma before she died.
Today my mother receives a small pension from her years of working at the hospital to supplement social security (recently reduced after my Dad's death). She remains active in every way. Elle travaillait forte c'monde là. A hard-working woman. This spring she was honored at the cathedral in Joliet as Woman of the Year in her parish (for a second time), most notably for doing the church linens and volunteering at the local nursing homes, but no doubt for a lifetime of service, community, and faith. Recently she had a bonfire and sleep-over for a number of her eighteen grandchildren. She played water volleyball for the first time this summer, and she's taking a train by herself to Memphis this month to visit my brother and his family. She reads and keeps everything on Franco-American women I send her. And we talk about it. As I listen to her voice, I hear the echoes of Franco-American women's lives, distant but distinct, and I'm straining to catch the sound of my own voice, too.
All Contents are Copyright©Kristin Langellier, 1997
1. A Memère Callette Pour les pichous et les prières, jamais je ne vous oublierai. Pour les tricots et les têtes-à-têtes, toujours je vous érai. Pour le café et les conversations, je pense à vous. Pour les tamates et la télé, je dis votre nom partout. Pour vos crèpes et vos cadeaux, j'aime leur valeur. Pour vos soupers et vos sourires, j'aime leur chaleur. Je ne suis plus là pour dire, "Prenez-vous soin." Mais je pense à ces choses, et vous n'etes plus loin. --Maureen Perry, 1993 2.Circles (To Memère Perry) You say you used to skate: Gliding in circles around the rink or pond, Cutting figure-8's into the ice, Turning pirouettes on the toes of your skates. The circles that I remember from you are the bobbin of your sewing machine and the pattern of my gamboling about the room in the dresses you made. Now time's circle has come full circle. The grandsons now resemble the sons, And the granddaughter now plies the needle. When we visit, do you see the circle of family around you? Or do you still see yourself skating in circles? --Maureen Perry, 1997
All Contents are Copyright©Maureen Perry, 1997
By Yvonne Mazerolle, Old Town
2/92 Pain of the years rising And falling like the ocean tide Ebbings and flowings Oozing through the cracks of My mind As the water oozes through The rocks. Then receding and exposing Fully what lies beneath. In the reality of time The formations True extensions of Rocks and cracks Of hidden truths Lies, And betrayals The pounding and erosions Leaving distortions And various patterns Of sharpness and smoothness Left gleaming in the sun Shining, Fully exposed for others to see The beauty of her After the washing, After the cleansing.
All Contents are Copyright©Yvonne Mazerolle, 1997
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By Trudy Chambers Price, Woolwich
7-25-94 I drive to the graveyard and park next to my parents' stone. the one my father had engraved for them: a Masonic emblem on his side, an artist's palette on hers. I remember the argument: my mother insisted that he engrave her full name--given, middle and maiden-- on her side. he said it would be uneven, too long, that it wouldn't match his side-- I can still see the set of her jaw every time they argued and hear his muttering as he slammed the door-- For years the stone sat out in back of his shop, he waiting for her to give in, she holding out. I set and admire the engraving by a master craftsman and her original pattern she had drawn of the palette. The imbalance of the names doesn't bother me. Anyone who reads it will know who she was before she married. I look at my grandparents' stone next to my parents'. My grandfather's name is spelled out except for a middle initial. Underneath it reads: his wife, Sophie.
All Contents are Copyright©Trudy Chambers Price, 1997
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La Revanche des Berceaux(A poem found in the on-line conversations of the FAWI)
By Kim Chase, BurlingtonWhen I think of my husband's great grandmother with 24 children who grew to adulthood--never mind the ones she lost Maybe I have a permanent Quebec haze on my brain and my precious baby girl rabbit Actually, she belongs to my daughter, but I absolutely feel that she is mine because I'm the one that takes care of her the most. Women having many, many babies was used twice in Quebec history to undo the power of the conquering English. Families were paid in land and money for families of ten or more children. The priests preached this. Incessantly. The policy was called: The Revenge of the Cradle. In French it is called: La Revanche des berceaux I ask for some help with the naming of it the other day, no response Can't think of a good name, I'm not a really creative person. Beanie-Bop is a cotton tail, gray and weighs about three pounds. we used to have over a hundred--and not one was sold for meat. what kind of a mother would you be if you didn't worry a little? In French it is called: La Revanche des berceaux It was 1890 that the law was again reinstated...and that was called the law of 12 children. la loi des 12 enfants... the baby of 15 children, and he talks of going to bed hungry and wearing his sisters' blouses Like my cousin used to say when he lived with us I could sleep at the foot of one of your beds and I promise I won't take very much room. God, how us girls loved to scare the dickens out of anyone who lived with us--going from room to room at night with a flashlight shoved into our mouth or hanging those glow in the dark Christmas icicles from our mouth and just standing over their beds. I have albums (no kidding) of my babies--they were all named after flowers/living things--Lupine, Buckwheat, Pumpkin, Honesty, Burdock..... By six months a doe is ready to breed with 24 children the baby of 15 children la loi des 12 enfants... in commercial rabbitries as soon as the young are born, the mother is rebred--damn the male when he reaches his climax he falls on his side and screams away--the female just waits and then has another litter. "If she could have canned a fart and made use of it she would have." I guess we make jokes to keep from crying. once again pulls the fur from her already raw chest and so on until she is worn out--about a year-old tops. Then she is sold for stew meat, her feet for lucky charms and her pelt has little value because there was never enough nutrition for her own body. which one of us mothers has not felt the pangs of worry, fear, or needed direction in raising our children. Then someday they just get too damn big and we have to let them go. We had one doe who somehow managed to kill every buck we bred her with! He wouldn't die right away, it would be a couple of days after. someone has to stop this and scream we are here, we have been here, There was a time when a rabbit was killed, its meat was used to feed the family, its fur to keep the family warm and allow for bartering, and the young of the rabbit promised a continuance. Not sure about the rest of you but I let my sons go (gladly) early on. I wanted to kiss their wives' feet for taking them off my hands. When I mentioned like raising children and then letting go -I don't mean from the Stillwater bridge or the empire state building--I mean release it from within. Shit--fog index went up--I don't even know what the hell I am saying anymore. my father loved to eat rabbit. You're not sleeping in my room if you bring any of those glow in the dark icicles. In French it is called: La Revanche des berceaux
All Contents are Copyright©Kim Chase, 1997
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Poem By Joyce FairbrotherAll Contents are Copyright©Joyce Fairbrother, 1997
Imagis IImagis I for EBB Vision cascades from light framed by sun and bark; water flows to stone and there is no line separating the curve of the earth from the body's beginnings. There is no mystery to creation... there is only form. there is only texture. there is only grace. Flesh or stone, Texture reveals form but we are blessed.... we see only grace. August 26, 1997 Inspired by an image at: http://www.collideascope.com/empire/ebb/di1.jpg
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By Amy Bouchard Morin, Old Town
My mother grew up on a farm in Lille, Maine and tells this story of the biggest rug her mother made, which was 9 x 12 feet in size. Many of the women who lived on farms in The Valley carded their own wool, had spinning wheels which they used to make yarn, and looms to make blankets. With this yarn, they made stockings, mittens, hats, sweaters, blankets, comforters, and even rugs.
Maman tells that father cleared a big room upstairs for Mémère to work in. Mémère tacked the fine burlap backing on the floor and drew a design of roses around the edge and a large oval centerpiece. Then she colored the design... even shading the roses and leaves. pépère helped her attach the backing to a rack he made that was 9 feet wide with two rollers.
Once she knew the colors she needed, Mémère mixed the dyes and dyed the yarn that she had spun from the wool of pépère's sheep to match the design she had drawn on the rug. It took all winter to hook that rug. When the hooking was finished she put the final touch to the rug by snipping the ends and sculpting the roses and leaves to make a 3-D effect. Mama says that the rug looked like velvet when it was finished, and that they put in on the floor in the front parlor (the room that was used only when special visitors came).
A buyer from Nova Scotia had heard about the beautiful work that the Franco women did in The Valley and was travelling around northern Maine looking for rugs for a hunting lodge that he was furnishing. He approached the owner of the furniture store in Van Buren who sent him to see "le grand tapis que Madame Denis Morneault a fait." The buyer asked what Mémère would take for the rug.
She thought awhile and then asked $500 (which for the early 1900s was a small fortune), because she really didn't want to sell it and couldn't imagine anybody would pay that much money for her rug. He hauled out a roll of bills and peeled off the $500. My mother says that when his helpers rolled up that rug and took it out of the house you would have thought there was a funeral... everybody was crying. Even pépère had tears in his eyes.
For a long time nobody wanted to go in the parlor because it looked so bare. The following winter Mémère made another 9 x 12 rug in black, white and two shades of green that looked like tweed. But, she never made another one like the one she sold. When Maman told this story, she had a far-away look in her eyes and at the end of the story the tears were there again. She said, I wonder if that rug still exists and where it is today. You know, Amy, your Mémère put her soul into her work, and that rug was her masterpiece.
All Contents are Copyright©Amy Bouchard Morin, 1997
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191., October 3, 1997
By Rhea J. Côté Robbins, Brewer
healer [healer] n. guérisseur, -euse. Amener une réconciliation (entre deux personnes) --Harrap's I am of the wound woman blessure que se ne guérir pas (wound that never heals) that bleeds forever which never closes gapping hole direct to God portal from heaven mystery of tides flowing in and out revealed in other's faces. Mine.
All Contents are Copyright©Rhea J. Côté Robbins, 1997
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A review of Wednesday's Child by Gérard Robichaud, author of Papa Martel and Apple of His Eye
Wednesday's Child, 1997's choice for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Chapbook Award, and deservedly so, is, in my opinion, after a slower, more careful re-reading, still a terrific opening for a writer's career that displays here the stuff of rare, solid promise of even greater things to come.
There are certain sections, many paragraphs, even single sentences that grip me, hold me, knock me out. You have a precise approach to a point you wish to make that surprises you, when it comes, for it immediate authenticity. To do this often and easily, with passion, I consider, a writer's special gift. (page 24) "I have the quilt."
Again, (page 18) "That was when I began to speak in code. That was the time of my knowing."
Reading this, I get an instant feeling of tremendous CHANGES, as important as any other in history books, except these point to landmarks in one's most intimate personal life. The simplicity of that prose has a dramatic punch of its own.
There is a continuum throughout of a well-orchestrated, well-remembered, carefully nurtured ANGST, the wellspring of all artists who have suffered much, the basic data of the various "times of their knowing" that henceforth will be the very stuff that when and if recorded, that is, WRITTEN, he or she will share with the world, all the better to enrich it. You have a way of remembering those dry, belly-laughter, Gallic incidents of days spent in Catholic schools of great WORLD WARS between the forces of insanity of the good nuns and the natural sanity of healthy, intelligent children.
I love the salty dialogue between you and your dad. (pages 53-58)
I was struck by the choices each ethnicity devises to admit proudly their self-perceived inferiorities. Barbra Striesand's nose, English stiff upper lip. Franco-American's bad feet. And on and on.
A small note: I notice you also, as I've done many times, write in English which is a pure translation of a French sentence. Page 50: "How do you play poker?" he demands to know. (Demande a savoir.)
Again I must return to: (page 17)
"I recall the incident well because it is the time and place where my conscious knowing began. It is the exact pinpoint of time where I woke from a deep, sheltering somnolence, the altered state of innocence in childhood came to a halt that day. I remembered it well because I felt the door shut on my childhood self and I felt my apprenticeship into the female begin."
"That was the time of my knowing."
As they used to say in the Village [Greenwich], "Sister Baby, that knocks me out!"
Throughout one feels, as I do, the authentic French-American-ness of it all the way , in a salty, savory manner.
To purchase a copy of Wednesday's Child see below.
Social Networks and Third Parties in the Franco-American Culture
By Lanette Landry Petrie, Bradley
Franco-Americans distrust outsiders. No one,they felt, not even members of other ethnic groups who, like Franco-Americans, have been the butt of prejudice, could truly understand their special position. They saw themselves, because of their religion and their language, as better than they were judged to be, but they were well aware that they were looked down upon. Survival as a separate entity, against all odds, became a mystique. In spite of this mystique of survivance (survival) as an ethnic group, Franco-Americans did not support their own. They were unwilling, for example, to act in unison in political matters. Suspicion of the "other ran too high. The "other" could be someone of another religion or of another nationality, or simply be a member of another Franco-American parish, even a Franco-American neighbor. These attitudes had been learned through a succession of generations enclosed within isolated communities. Franco-Americans felt forever attacked and conquered by outside forces." This section from Ethnicity and Family Therapy, Langelier (1982 p..232), clearly describes the feeling of Franco-Americans to this day. "They have a history of self-help and of accepting advice from kinship networks or the local priest rather than from outsiders, who are viewed with suspicion and mistrust." (p. 238)
Brault tell us in The Heritage of New England, (1989, p. 13) about the social structure of French-Canadians, later Franco-Americans. "Quebec society was family oriented. French-Canadians developed kinship recognition to a high degree . . . weddings, christenings, funerals, holidays, and anniversaries were occasions for family gatherings, frequently lasting well into the night, but outings and more extended trips away from home also normally involved dropping in or staying with relatives. During these visits, much time was spent catching up on the latest offspring and family doings." "A few tasks required cooperative effort but as a rule individuals had few dealings with the people next door. Everyone loved to gossip and talk politics on the church steps before and after mass on Sunday mornings and on infrequent visits to village craftsmen, but the rest of the time they socialized almost exclusively with relatives. The Cure, or pastor, was the most powerful figure at the local level. His influence extended far beyond the sacred sphere as he was routinely consulted by parishioners concerning all matter of secular decisions. (p. 9)
Brault continues to tell us about the courtship and marriage patterns of French-Canadians, "Having become interested in a marriageable young woman; a youth would come calling on a Sunday evening. Traditionally he visited the entire family and tried to be as casual as possible. During group conversations or card games, glances would be exchanged, hints given, and ideally, encouragement received from the young woman in the form of a smile or a friendly look. Thus emboldened the young man intensified his visits and began making small gifts. Unless there were more than one suitor, acceptance of presents generally signaled that the courtship was progressing well. Eventually . . . the young man would ask the father for his daughter's hand in marriage. A frank discussion of the young man's prospects ensued. From time to time, the youth's father would accompany him on this occasion at which time a marriage contract would be negotiated by the parents. The contract was designed to give the couple a modest start, nothing more. An engagement lasting more than six months was discouraged. Considerable pressure was applied on single persons in their twenties to get married. Preceding the wedding day, on three successive Sundays, the banns were read in the parishes of both fiancees. In the Catholic church, this was (as is) intended to forestall any impediment to a lawful marriage." (1986 p. 35)
"Because Catholicism, especially French-Canadian Catholicism, has traditionally opposed intermarriage and divorce, Franco-Americans have married among their own. However, in the 1940's a trend began, so that now 50% or more of Franco-Americans marry outside of their own ethnic group, though usually within the Church (Dugas, 1976). This is the result of more frequent contact with other ethnic groups in military service during World War II and of attendance at public schools. Those who intermarry tend to wed members of the other Catholic minority groups, such as Italian, Irish, and Polish. Divorce is increasing among Franco-Americans though it has not yet reached the national rate. These emerging changes in marital patterns cause confusion and conflict among Franco-Americans who, as every other group, must rethink their traditional expectations. (Langelier 1982 p..237).
Working Daughters, Working Mothers, tells us of the importance of kin networks, "Family ties, first among members of the nuclear family and then among kin within an extended family network, were crucial in the process of immigration. "Chain migration," the sending by kin networks of some family members before others, was used in finding a city of destination, housing, and jobs in the new industrial situation (p. 90).
"Today, most Franco-Americans are acculturated to mainstream America, yet a surprisingly large number still adhere to attitudes and values that have been influenced by an ideology elaborated during an earlier phase of their history. Older Franco-Americans may view the world beyond the group with less suspicion, but many feel a loss in the declining use of French, the evolution of the parochial school system, and the drop-off in attendance at church and other organized ethnic functions. The struggle against a largely Irish church hierarchy once perceived as insensitive and, at times, hostile to Franco-American interests is not forgotten, but it is considered to be a thing of the past (Brault 1989, p. 159).
There is little to document the presence of domestic violence or how social networks and third parties played a role in the management of it. The close knit family existence would belie a level of protection that I'm not sure was there. The man ruled his household with support from the Church and very little interference from anyone. My own knowledge tells me that in past generations both parties, when getting married, were told, "You made your bed, now lay in it." It was thought to be helping the newlyweds to be more tolerant of each other's faults. Physical abuse was not condoned but outside interference was shunned. The family was considered a sacred unit not to be interfered with. I think grandparents had more of a role in protecting children. They would bring them home with them until things calmed down. There were no state programs to assist a woman who, with many children, wanted to leave her husband. It was also considered shameful. I will continue this in the next paper.
All Contents are Copyright©Lanette Landry Petrie, 1997
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HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE A FRANCO-AMÉRICAINE FEMME À LA NATURELLE ?
By Bonita Parent Grindle, Old Town
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.
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"Woodstock 69" The Nurses Odyssey
By Yvonne M. Ross, Ferndale, New YorkFriday the rain had been torrential and constant. The Liberty Radio- WVOS- had been urging the people of Sullivan County to make entire loaves of bread into sandwiches, gather all spare boots and raincoats, and take them to the Grossinger Airport, to be delivered to the "PEOPLE OF WOODSTOCK". Saturday late in the morning, our phone rang, it was MARY, the O.R., Nurse at Loomis Hospital where I worked, asking me to join her and WENDY (our new English nurse) and go to "WOODSTOCK" to help out. I said O.K. My husband and 8 year old son drove with me to the GROSS:[INGER AIRPORT( only three miles from home). As 1 walked towards the landing strip, a huge Army helicopter took off, leaving many people behind. I sat on the grass, near them, waiting for my team. A few minutes later Mary and Wendy joined me. Wendy of the pink face and luminous blue eyes, re with excit- ement, exclaimed, Look! Look! JANIS JOPLIN! I looked and saw the small figure of a girl, in a colorful pant suit, with long brown hair, staring absentmindedly, alone on the knoll. Wendy again, Oh! my God! THE IRON BUTTERFLIES ! I saw a group of men, dressed outrageously, gesturing and walking together towards us. I really got excited too, when I saw JIMMY HENDRIX, good natured, smiling to himself, shaking his kin]cy curl, keeping rhythm with the tune in his head. I loved his guitar playing, the sounds he got out of it were so unusual and inspired. He really was different. The blue and white Helicopter had arrived. We got up quickly, two people were in already. It was a 4 passengers, they were 3 of us; Now, What ? You go, Mary said and she gave me a friendly push in. What about you two? I asked, We will catch the next one . When you get to WOODSTOCK, go the First Aid trailer - a white one- ask for Dr. Abruzzi, she yelled over the noise of the propeller. OK., see you later, I yelled back. The Heli lifted into the air. I lived in Sullivan County for many years, I knew we had many beautiful lakes such as SWAN LAKE AND WHITE LAKE towards BETHEL, and I was amazed at all the little " water mirrors" reflecting back at us. Then, I noticed the clogged roads, large and small, even some fields packed with some of the cars that were paralyzing traffic all over the County. I also saw crowds of people loosely knit, still making their way along the shoulder of the road and through the fields, in the hot an bright August sunshine, towards WOODSTOCK. They were in for along hike, it was still 6-8 miles to get there. The Pilot announced- we are there! Below, I saw many heads bobbing out of a small pond, adults and children, nude and pink, looking fit and graceful. I heard and felt a "SWOOSH", another Helicopter closed in. STATE POLICE! exclaimed our Pilot, and then saw the Motor- cyclists- about a dozen of them, clad in black]c leather, with heavy metal chains hanging from their bikes???, stirring the red dust on the path below. Whether it was the State Police or the Bikers who scared the bathers, they all ran out of the water " au naturel' and took cover under the low bushed. I was to meet some of them later under different circumstances. The State Police landed, troopers ran out of the Heli, surrounded the Bikers, confiscated their chains and were herding them out. It all happened so fast, I could hardly believe that scene. Now, we landed, jumped first out, heading for the Traffic controllers. had to find the First Aid trailer. Not far, they told me, just beyond the two tents, over to the right. I began walking on the flat above the Concert site, the music mingling with the roar of the approving crowd was deafening. but I could only see the stage poles, and many heads long haired, a few bald, some wearing makeshift newspaper hats, other fancy straw, still others assorted, colorful, corners-tied kerchiefs, and all sorts of baseball caps. To my left was a huge white and yellow striped tent( the drug Hsp.) further back, a smaller grayish tent(erg, Hsp.)just below them was the First Aid white trailer. I passed by a site littered with broken, jagged wine bottles, beer and soda cans, paper and plastic bags, and other assorted trash left out in the open and beginning to smell. Then, I saw and I could not believe it, right there, a pair of brown leather cowboy boots embedded to mid-calf into the drying mud. Appar- ently, their owner had been unable to rescue them from the vacuum sucking mud holding them tight as a girdle. Disgusted, he had walk- ed away, leaving deep, squashy footprints in the mud. What a site! I walked on, passing a group of tents close to the Path. Young people barefoot, girls with long dresses and tresses, young men barechested, long hair flowing, sat peaceful on Granny quilts, trying to keep their butts from the wetness. There was the trailer. I walked 2 steps, knocked and walked in. It was cool inside, the air conditioning was on. About 6-8 people were busy treating a long line of Festival goers, waiting patient- ly at the back door. Dr. Abruzzi had stepped out and one of the Nurses gave 1 whirlwind orientation to the First. id station!. - All the medications re on he large table in the back on the room, in Alpha Order. 2-Here take this and she hands me an Emergency Pad. ( I had my pen). Write in Last name, First Name, Town, State and Tel.#.( no time for more details). Patient's complaint. 3- Prep. the patient as far as you can. Doctor will do surgery(if needed), write the Treatment. You do the treatment and dispense the Med. 4- We are SHORT OF WATER, if stitches needed, wash only 3-5" around the wound - no more-. 5- Only 1/2 Cup of Water for Med. given here and only 1 extra dose given for later on. Here are some of the cases I treated that day. A boy of 3 - deep cut, rt. foot (broken lass) A teenage girl - deep cut, palm of rt. hand, jagged ( broken glass) A large group with Poison Ivy rash. ( some who had ran out of the Pond earlier) Lots of Sunburns (some serious- mostly children) Insect bites ( many already infected) Heat Prostration ( too many) Dehydration( remember, drinking was scarce) Someone knocked at the door, I opened to a tall, muscular man in khaki short and sandals, who promptly blurted out excitedly, I need a Doctor! A woman is in active labor!( I found out later he was John Roberts - one of the Festival Organizer). NOBODY MOVES. I am shocked. I step forward, I am a L.P.N. with O.B.( obstetrics) experience, but I do want to go alone, we need a Doctor! Reluctantly, a Dr. steps out.(Later, I found out the whole group in the First Aid trailer was from the Middletown Psychiatric Hsp.). The 3 of us ran out with Roberts leading the way. Suddenly, he stops, looks around, turns to us and exclaims I DO NOT SEE THE WOMAN! Thinking that perhaps she is being sheltered by the Young People in the tents, we ask. No, they have not seen her. Roberts by now, reflects both disbelief and concerned worry; where could the woman be? He repeats over and over She was right there with her husband ! Later I was to find out that her husband fearing the birth imminent, had gathered his wife in his arms, and ran with her to the Army Helicopter who flew to the Monticello Hsp. The Dr. and I left and went back to First Aid. I was promptly out on "a break" and I decided to go looking for my team. As I walked, I saw a bluish haze floating over the Crowd in the hollow below, and I smelled the sweet scent of "Marijuana". I changed direction. Further ahead, I saw the other white trailer I had been told about, "The Toilets". As I was thinking we need more of them for that crowd, suddenly I heard A crescendo of bewildered voices OH! and the trailer took a nose dive. People came running from all directions, attached themselves like leeches to the frame of the trailer and pulled down with all their might - NOTHING HAPPENED - , then some men jumped up and unto the edge of the trailer, but they still could not bring it down. So,, other men jumped up too and held the first one around their ankles, and they too pulled; finally the "Human Grapes" won and the trailer came down, everyone out of the way just in time. Now they were all running to their Music. I had never seen anything so funny, I was laughing so hard, my stomach quivered and my knees cave in and I collapsed. I could not stop laughing, I still could not get up. Feeling foolish, I picked myself up and went on looking for " My Team". I found Mary in an ill equipped trailer, dark and hot. She was busy sponging the legs of a young boy, who had doctored his Poison Ivy by applying "wet mud" to its itch. Now, it was a brown, disgusting, crack- ing plaster. He had an infection started somewhere underneath that mess. Mary was upset at the lack of WATER AND SUPPLIES. I offered to switch place with her, but she said No! She told me Wendy was further down , in the same situation. She also said she had a "Courier" a young volunteer, who brought her what ever supplies he could find. I Could not believe it when she told me we were leaving as soon as the relief nurses came in. How? I asked, but she only laughed. As I walked back to First Aid, I saw the YASGUR FARM and other milk tanker bringing in WATER. That day we treated every State in the Union and every Province of Canada in First Aid, how did they hear about WOODSTOCK in our tiny Sullivan County? Meantime, we ran out of TETANUS TOXOID, had to tell the people to come back in the morning. Amazingly, no one got mad about it. Later the News Media were to write " The People at Woodstock did not cause trouble because they were stoned on Drug. This is not true, of the 250.000 to 500.000( they could not agree on the number) a very small percentage was treated for Drugs. personally, I believe it was "THE SPIRIT OF WOODSTOCK"- "Good will to all men" that kept us peaceful these 3 days in August. I saw that Spirit in the First Aid Station where I worked that day, the Woodstock People were concerned and gentle, even if strangers. Nursing at Woodstock was an experience, you never knew what next. Now, my added duty was as "Sole distributor of Sanitary Napkins". That supply too was scarce, rationed to - one per day per person-. How ridiculous can you get? About 2 a.m. the Courier arrived, we were leaving. ] met Wendy at Mary's trailer. We had been quite a team, the nursing version of the "THREE MUSKETEERS", one American of polish heritge, the other an unaltered British (impeccable accent and gorgeous complexion) and I, a French War Bride ( now an American). We had a car, Mary was driving. One of the Nurse coming in to relieve was one of her friend, she had loaned her car, a Volkswagen Buy, she had driven in and said we could drive out. From Bethel to Liberty in the moonlight, we saw many abandoned cars in the fields and we wondered if their owners would be able to remember where they left them. We drove on, using the small, familiar country roads. We got home O.K., but were we tired. Tomorrow would be the closing episode of the WOODSTOCK Festival"
All Contents are Copyright©Yvonne M. Ross, 1997
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Comparative Culture Writing
My Grandfather - a memory
By Paulette M. Barry, San Francisco, CA
My Grandfather - a memory Dear Grandpa, Or is it Grandfather or some other fashion of the word? Do you or did you have a preference? Should my greeting be in Italian or are you bi-lingual now that you are in heaven. Heaven. I guess your daughter is there too, my mother, Ann Marie? And, I'll bet she updated you on what's happened to me since you died but I guess I wanted to speak with you myself. After all, it's about time - we never spoke when you were on earth, did we? By now you know that it's me, Paulette, your granddaughter. But, I wonder if I could kind of remenis with you and tell you what I recall about you and see if it's the same as your memory. I can see you, glimpse you, almost touch you in the mist of those early morning days in the early 1950's in Los Angeles. I can smell the dew and feel the promise of another summer day...that smell, that feeling so familiar, even now after all those years later. And I wonder sometimes, Grandpa, if my senses have stayed sharp because of the memories of you. I can still see you working with the vines. The grapevines. All the way up our hillside. And, you, working all day long, tending, tying, touching, evaluating, planting. Gently coaxing the vines to produce the grapes. I can see you keeping the vines from falling to the earth. The care you take, the focus, the dedication. I see you kneeling for hours, all day, day after day, doing you work. But, you never see me. Or at least I don't think so. I do not recall a single time that you spoke to me. Not once. I realize now that you spoke no English. How isolated that must have made you feel. It must have only been through the vines that you could find expression, camaraderie, solidarity, kinship. Such silence surrounding you, enclosing you every day. As a child I never knew that the language was a barrier. I don't know what I assumed, just that you never spoke to me. It might have signaled the beginning of spending a lifetime not questioning what seemed different - for me a lifetime habit of continuing to assume that there are always reasons for things that I cannot understand - and that those reasons are not always apparent to me. What I did know of you I learned from mother. She always told me stories about you and such stories of you, Grandpa, Salvatore. You know mother - always one for elaborate stories, stories that, I learned much later in life, were not always true, or rather hearts of stories were true, but real life to mother was clearly not enough - stories were always better. And, so, stories of you. She said that you had lived in Pensacola, Florida for a time and that you were the person who invented the glass-bottom boat. Or, how about the story that you had lived in Chicago and that you were a highly successful architect? How wonderful, what a successful and creative man. But, Grandpa, if you could speak no English, how could all of those things have been so? Is what I saw of you the truth? Is what my mother told me the truth? Are both true? Could it have been that, later in life, relocated to Los Angeles and the unfamiliar, living in your daughter's house that you spoke your original tongue to mama and to grandma? I don't know. But, I do remember what I saw. I was about seven or eight years old and you were tall, very tall with a broad chest. Or, were you tall because I was so small, Grandpa? I saw you always with brown gabardine pants, baggy style. I saw you with a brown gabardine shirt, buttoned up to the top, even on the hottest of days, with the sleeves rolled to your elbows. I saw you in the broad rimmed fedora hat, also brown. I can hear Grandma calling you into the house for lunch and you're stopping your work to eat and then return to the vines. I can remember that one day I didn't see you in the vines and I remember going to your Rosary. I remember that you died when I was very young, not much past eight. I remember mama mourning, closing off the house, drawing all the drapes so that the house was dark and still. I remember her sitting in the big chair with one of her cats and crying, sobbing. I remember, years later, but still a child, coming across a picture of you, Grandpa, in mother's bottom bureau drawer. The picture was about 11"x 14", it was black and white and it was a professionally taken photograph of you, dead, in your casket, flowers all surrounding you. That photograph scared me to death. I never told my mother that I had found it, after all I was in a place that I shouldn't have been - her bureau. But I couldn't sleep for the longest time without seeing that picture in my mind's eye - I can still see it, even now, as clearly as I could that day I opened the drawer. To this day, I never open drawers of others or even drawers that may have items in them that I am not privy to. So, dear Grandfather, my memories of you are my mothers stories, my horror at seeing that picture of you, my own self watching you, following you along, silently as you worked your vines. So many years have past. So much unexplained. So much to be left that way. But, I can still see you, Grandpa, tending the vines with such care and love. So quiet, so focused, so isolated with someone so close by, watching youbutforever silent. Love, Paulette
All Contents are Copyright©Paulette M. Barry, 1997
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Dear FAWI, Enclosed is a check for $10 for a membership for Claudette Bégin. She had previously sent an email. We'd also like to get a copy of the Inititative if it's also a hard copy journal. Or is it only electronic? Thanks. Alex Chis Claudette Bégin Union City, CA
Date: Thursday, October 23, 1997 6:08:01 PM From: email@example.com Subj: Bien merci To: FAWI2000@aol.com Bien merci d'avoir cousu ce site. J'ai surtout apprécié l'article sur la francofemme.
Date: Tuesday, October 7, 1997 8:40:28 PM From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subj: submission guidelines, s.v.p.??? To: FAWI2000@aol.com Chère Rhea, Enfin! I have e-mail and can finally ask you for submission guidelines for the Initiative publication. My e-mail address is: email@example.com. I'm looking forward to submitting a couple of poems at this time and hopefully other things later on (I couldn't ask for a better chance to write something other than the personal statement for my PhD program application!). I hope all is going well for you. Mille fois merci!!! --Maureen Perry Boston, MA
Bonjour Mon nom est François Simard et je fait de recherche sur les franco-américain, serait-il possible que je puisse recevoir de l`information sur votre association. Je vous remerçi de votre collaboration François Simard 1344, Boul Adoncour Longueuil, Québec J4J 5L3
Dear Sisters, Inspired by our recent trip to Maine and to my family, my husband explored the web for Franco-American stuff and found FAWI. What a wonderful institute. I am reading your newsletter, descriptions of the organization, biographies, etc. with much delight. I am very interested in being associated with your institute. After I read a bit more I will understand better in what way I can participate. In any case, I will want to join. Just a quick note, I am a French Canadian woman born in Lewiston in 1949. I attended almost exclusively French Catholic schools; I was raised bilingually, French at first, then English added when I made friends in the neighborhood and at school. Of course, today English is my primary language, but I am still fluent enough to write and speak with my family members in Maine and Quebec. I have been living in Northern California since 1971. I have been an active feminist since college. I am very interested in the Franco-American legacy; I have been exploring my genealogy in the last few years. This last trip I met relatives from my mother's side whom I never knew lived right in Lewiston. I regularly come back East - approximately once a year. When I go to Quebec, I have been searching out Quebec women's literature. Now I can read Franco-American women's literature too. My husband just got me "The Tight White Collar." I love that a French-Canadian woman wrote Peyton Place - of course it makes total sense since we were a major part of the mills. Who could have guessed from her name that she was French-Canadian? Perhaps you could let me know how I could participate at such a long distance. Looking forward to hearing from you, Claudette Bégin Fremont, CA
FAWI website is listed in Radical Journey, Fish Rapper Digest under ³Interesting Websites² as: history, humor, authors, prize-winning poetry, this is an outstanding site, from Born Again Pagan to the Initiative, a publication.
Dear FAWI, It gave me a great amount of pleasure to have your phone call today. I want to hurry and get this in the mail and hope to talk with you soon. Like I told you, the biggest start to do work, to do good work, would be with me, right here. You can put my name on every little corner that you can find. I will be at your service at all times. You can learn alot from me about this [St. John] Valley and I'm very proud of it. I know you will understand what I mean. Thank you again for having me in your group. Take care. Ida Roy Van Buren, ME
Franco-American Women's Institute. Investigates and preserves Franco-American Women's history and culture, and their contributions to the culture at large. Has links to other sites of interest as well as a bibliography and some documents written by members. Claire's Home Page, WWW
Chére FAWI, Here's the hard copy, accents and all, of the poems I emailed you. Merci encore! By the way, I would like to know more about the discussion groups etc. I kept meaning to say so in my last email, but I keep forgetting. Merci une troisième fois! I hope all is going well. Take care! Maureen Perry Boston, MA
Dear FAWI, I was happy to join you at our library and now I want to list a few names who might be interested in your work for the culture of Franco-American women. [list omitted] I hope to be at your meeting on November 15th if possible. Enclosed is a donation for your beautiful effort. I wish I were 20 years younger and healthy. I could help to organize a group, but hélas! Best of Luck, Bonne Chance! Thérèse Picard Lewiston, ME
Franco-American Women's Iniative: Some of the projects which we have worked on thus far in the Bangor area are:
All Contents are Copyright©FAWI, 1997
- Meeting twice a month at Borders Bookstore and listed in their announcement bulletin to raise community awareness of our presence. We are meeting in the community because some women are intimidated by the university setting as a gathering place.
- Panel at the Maine Women's Studies Conference in the Fall on Women and the Church (ten or more presented)
- Listed in the Maine Women's Fund as a tribute to our Franco-American Femmes
- Annual Banquet at Winterport Inn
- Listed in the Encyclopedia on New England Culture
- Seeking Listing in the Women's Liberation Resource Network/WEB
- Presentation for the Women's History Celebration entitled: "Did She or Didn't She?: Franco-American Women in Parochial Schools (ten presented)
- Presentation to Maison Marcotte about Franco-American women's culture to 50 residents, and also to begin FAWI chapter there
- Listing in the Portland Sunday Telegram about the movement in the special section on Women's History month
- An online daily discussion of Franco-American women which is vital and exciting to issues which we are thinking about or which concern us
- Monthly article on Franco-American women/FAWI appearing in The Feminist Times
- Presentation at Borders on Franco-American folklore by Lucille Gosselin
- Maine Breast and Cervical Program Special Populations Committee
- Presentations on Breast Cancer in relation to culture
- Ongoing class presentations in all areas of education
- The Franco-American Women's Anthology
- One member, Amy Bouchard Morin participated in the UMaine/UAngers (France) exchange researching connections between Franco women's handiwork and the work done by women in western France.
- French Club that meets once a month at the French Island (in Old Town) Community Center. People trying to reclaim their use of the French language by speaking and hearing only French for 2 hours a month.
- Book on the parochial school experience
- Book on Memere stories
- Culturefest in Bangor in May
- Member of Maine Women's Studies Consortium
- Race, Gender and Culture, Panel, YWCA, April 15, 1997
- Eastern Maine Medical Center Family Practice Residency, Presentation, Eastern Maine Medical Center, History and Health are Interconnected, April 17, 1997
- Dragon Farm Symposium, Camden, Maine, April 19, 1997
- WEB Page with several links: http://members.aol.com/FAWI2000/index.html
- Accepted to present at the national conference sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the capstone conference of a series of five, entitled: Inclusive & Interdisciplinary: Building the New Curriculum Conference, two panels of 12 femmes will be presenting
- Liaison with Women's Resource Center as link between community and U/Maine Campus Franco-American Women
- Searching for Our Roots I France: Franco-American Women's Art and Heritage, WIC Lunch Series, April 30, 1997
- Several areas of expertise among our membership on many areas: Franco-American women's literature, gardening, house building, science, education, Quebec/Acadian culture, needlecraft, needlepoint, quilts, activism, writing, dance, the Religious, the Church, French language, communication, folklore, song, sayings, community organizing, art, forestry, the Northeast Franco population, Quebec, and other cultures in relation to Franco-American culture.
- In the works: Granting processes and other funding research.
- Work with elderly to set up teas and special events to honor our wonderful franco femme elders
- April 22, 1997 Maine History Class at University of Maine (Orono) Presentation of the French Island Oral History Project "Nos Histoire de l'Ile - Our Stories of the Island" -- Information pertaining to the formation of our group (why and how we organized), and process we used to gather the oral history of life on French Island in Old Town, Maine during the early-mid 1900s, as well as some of the history and stories taken from the transcripts.)
- May 19, 1997 Quebec May Term class - Slide show presented (in French) titled: "Franco-American Women's Art: Culture and Skills Learned at Maman's Knee"
- June 16, 1997 Orono High School French Class - Slide show presentation to titled "Franco-American Women's Art: Culture and Skills Learned at Maman's Knee." English (some French)
- June 17, 1997 Old Town Museum -- Presentation of "Nos Histoire de l'Ile - Our Stories of the Island" - the formation of our group (why and how we organized), and process we used to gather the oral history of life on French Island in Old Town, Maine during the early-mid 1900s as well as some of the stories taken from the transcripts.)
- July 14, 1997 USIA-sponsored Summer Institute for educational leaders from Africa -- Presentation at the French Island Community Center of fhe French Island Oral History Project "Nos Histoire de l'Ile - Our Stories of the Island" to the -Information pertaining to the formation of our group (why and how we organized), and process we used to gather the oral history of life on French Island in Old Town, Maine during the early-mid 1900s as well as some of the history and stories taken from the transcripts.) As well as a walking tour of some of the sites discussed in the presentation.
- Sunday Programs at the Old Town Museum (begins at 2:00 pm): June 22, Amy Morin, Old Town, French Island Oral History Project "Nos Histoire de l'Ile; June 29, Lanette Landry Petrie, Bradley, My Mother's Walls--Franco-American Art; August 10, Franco-American Women's Institute, representatives.
- June 26, Lillianne Labbé and Don Hinkley, Summer Delight Concert Series, Pickering Square Downtown Bangor.
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By Rhea J. Côté Robbins
1997 Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Chapbook Award winner for creative nonfiction!
Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance
12 Pleasant St.
Brunswick, Maine 04011
Send $13.34, tax, postage and handling for your copy today.
If you live outside the state of Maine, pay no tax, send $12.74.
For more information on Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance:
Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance
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Old Women's WisdomA wonderful book about the life experiences of women with 80 plus years of living life to the fullest. Their stories of culture: Franco-American, Acadian, Native American, Sweedish, and English language as well as isolation and economics are sure to intrigue and enlighten. The Women of this book are from Aroostook County, Maine and they give a genuine portrayal of the way life used to be for women growing up in "the County".
Read the women from these pages and learn why there has been much support for an important project like this. A book project supported by the Maine Women's Fund and developed by the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging, Presque Isle, Maine, USA.
$10.95 per book or audio cassette plus shipping & handling.
Shipping & Handling:
To order (Visa and Mastercard only), please phone (207) 764-3396 or Maine Toll Free 1-800-439-1789 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 1 book or audio $ 2.50
- 1-3 books or audios $ 3.25
- 3-6 books or audios $ 6.50
- 6-9 books or audios $ 9.75
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By snail mail, please write to:
Aroostook Area Agency on Aging
ATTN: Old Women's Wisdom
33 Davis Street
Presque Isle, ME 04769
All Contents are Copyright©AAAA, 1997
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Nos Histoires de l'Ile livre de cuisine
A Collection of Recipes from French Isalnd in Old Town, MaineThe above collection of approximately 150 recipes from French Island in Old Town, Maine is now available at for $7.50 (hand delivered) or $10.00 (which covers postage and handling). This collection is a compilation of recipes used in the late 1800s and the early-to-mid 1900s.
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
La Femme Franco-Américine/The Franco-American Woman
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
You can E-MAIL FAWI here: FAWI2000@aol.com
Go to Home Page: The Franco-American Women's Institute
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All Contents are Copyright©FAWI, 1997
All Rights Reserved
COPYRIGHT NOTICE This publication is copyrighted and all rights are reserved by the writers. No part of this publication may be sold, copied, reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system or translated into any language or computer language, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, optical, chemical, manual or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the writers. For back issues or For more information, comments or help, please write For comments or help, webmaster: RJCR@aol.com
Last updated December 27, 1997