Kalico Life
by Kerri Wyman

Friday, December 20, 2002 1:08:11 PM
From:  Kerri Wyman
Subject: Final Project
To:  FASWSTFinalProject


Kalico Life

The information presented in the following short biography was gathered during an interview with Gloria Michaud Thornton.  Gloria welcomed me into her home on a chilly night and we sat by a warm fire and I listened to some of the stories that make up her life.

 Gloria Michaud was born 18 July 1927, on French Island in Old Town, Maine.  She was the seventh child of nine children born to William and Alvine (Lovewell) Michaud.  Her father William was from Van Buren, Maine and mother Alvine was from French Island, where she resided her entire life.  Throughout Gloria's childhood she remembers always being well taken care of.  Even though her family was poor, as everyone else during the 1930's, Gloria and her siblings were always warm, dressed in decent clothing and well fed.
 William was a very resourceful man who moved within many occupations from lumberjack to store clerk, and worked within local political arenas.  At home he was an excellent gardener, growing a variety of common fruits and vegetables and also uncommon for the time, like watermelon and peanuts.  William was also a skilled gatherer, gathering berries that were in season.  The Michaud basement was stocked well with the needs of the family for the winter.  Gloria's father and brothers gathered fuel for the house from unmarked logs in the river.
 Alvine Michaud did her part in caring for the family.  She made clothing for the family and always kept them in good repair.  Along with cooking for the family, she also baked for the confectioners store on the island, selling pies and bringing in extra income.  Gloria remembers her mother as always willing to help those in need.  Even though they didn't have a lot, they were always willing to help provide for others.  Alvine was often called to assist the doctor with the birth of new babies.  Her many skills, helped to provide for her family.
 Gloria remembers her childhood on French Island as growing up with one big family.  French was her first language as it was for everyone she grew up with at the time.  She and her siblings always spoke French to their parents, although they were well spoken in English as well.  Gloria's father always called his children by their French names and instilled a great pride of their French heritage.  French Island had a deep sense of culture and community.  Everyone looked after each other's children and lent a helping hand when needed.
 Gloria recalls the river being the main source of entertainment in her childhood.  She and the other island children were boating and swimming in the summer and ice-skating in the winter.  The family often walked across the river in the winter months to attend St. Joseph's Church in Old Town and in the summer they would take a boat across.  This was quicker and more convenient than walking to the opposite end of the island to use the bridge.  Gloria remembers her mother as having very strong faith.  In those days, families would say the Rosary every night during Lent.  The children were not allowed to go out and play until the Rosary was finished.  When the Rosary was done they were allowed to go out, however, if they went to ask their friends out to play and their family was still saying the Rosary, Gloria remembers staying and finishing the Rosary with them.
 Some of the favorite foods Gloria had as a child are; molasses cookies, doughnuts, pot-roast, american chop suey, and 'puish', which consisted of hamburger, tomatoes, peas and onions.  Gloria also loved eggs and since they were not always easy to come by, her grandmother would pay her in eggs for doing housework.  There were also many good times to be had.  She spoke of a love of Cajun music, which was often heard during celebrations when visitors would come from Canada.  Gloria remembers lots of music, dancing and food.  Her mother was always ready with a play or show for the children to put on.  They were fun times.
 Gloria Michaud married Thomas Thornton in 1947, in what she called a mixed marriage.  This was a mixed marriage not because Tom wasn't French, but because he wasn't Catholic.  Tom was of Danish, Scottish, and English decent.  Despite these differences they were married. 

 They moved into their first home in Milford, behind Tom's parents.  Two years later in 1949, Thomas Jr. was born.  Within six Tom sold a mill he owned, and gained a house on High Street in Old Town.  The family moved  there and in 1953 Peter was born.  While they lived on High Street they rented apartments and Gloria began selling baked goods.  She also sold weight loss machines for a short time.  The next three years again brought more change.  They  sold the home on High Street and moved to Sunset Drive, Old Town, where they operated an 8,000 chicken farm.  Then in 1956 Michael was born.
 Once again the Thornton's didn't stay still for long.  They sold the chicken farm and moved back to Milford where they opened a restaurant called The Pines and in 1960 their last son David was born.  The Thornton's operated the Pines for 24 years.  Gloria worked the grille and fried food.  Her mother Alvine baked for the restaurant until she was no longer able to and Gloria took over.  The Thornton's moved in with Tom's mother in 1962, the children loved living with Tom's mother.  The Pine's closed in the early 1980's.
 However, this did not slow down Gloria and Tom.  The 1980's brought more businesses.  They opened an antique barn for a short while, which Gloria confesses a love of antiques.  However, they closed the barn to help son Michael open Burr's Store in Costigan, Maine.  Gloria and Tom then traveled to Alabama to help youngest son David open a restaurant.  They were in Alabama for only a few months.  When the Thornton's returned to Maine friends of Gloria's needed a jam maker for their co-op, so Kalico Kitchen was born.  Following preserves, Gloria began baking breads and pies, and soon started a Christmas Craft Show in her home.
 The mid 90's brought Kalico Kitchen to its current location, where Thornton's Sport Shop use to reside, on the Main Road in Milford.  The 'Kitchen' became a tearoom, where Gloria works with her daughter in law and granddaughters daily. Gloria was 68 years old when she opened the tearoom and has been enjoying it ever since.  Gloria said that going to work everyday is like entertaining your friends and family.  She attributes her business success to her husband; he was her greatest supporter and inspiration.  Tom passed away in December 1998.  She also attributes her love of cooking to her mother.  Although, Gloria has many talents, cooking is her favorite.
 2002 brought more changes to the life of Gloria Michaud Thornton, she sold the family home, where she lived for 40 years and moved into an apartment next to her son Michael.  Gloria was not saddened by her move; she said she was ready to move on to the next part of her life.
 The Kalico Kitchen serves lunch from 11am to  3pm, Tuesday through Saturday.  Crafts and  coffee with deserts are available until 5pm.   Kalico Kitchen is closed from the week of  Christmas through the month of February.  However, Gloria's wonderful cooking keeps the customers coming back.  It is not uncommon to see fish chowder on Fridays or Chinese Pie on the menu.  Gloria's food is hand made by a true Franco woman that has lived a beautiful life.

Please note: Photographs were provided by Whitney Thornton Sapiel.

Friday, December 20, 2002 1:10:54 PM
From:  Kerri Wyman
Subject: Final Project
To:  Rhea Cote

Hi Rhea, 
 Well, the scanner problem wasn't fixed after all, so I submitted the project's text only to the folder, and I'm snail mailing a color copy with photos to you.  It should reach you by tomorrow or Monday.  Also, yes you may print my project in you ezine, if you would like. 

Season's Greetings, Kerri

Greetings Everyone!

My name is Kerri Wyman.  I'm from Old Town, ME and I've been here my whole life.  So, I'm just next door to UMaine.  I just added this course on Monday and finally got my WEBct up and running Tuesday afternoon.  I'm a smidge behind, but I'm very enthusiastic about this course.  Learning about the history and the existence of Franco people is very exciting to me because they have been all around me my entire life and I never really knew it.  Growing up in Old Town and being a Catholic family only lends itself to Franco heritage.  I grew up with friends who were Dumonts, Michauds, Nadeaus and Cyrs.  I have a list of family names that range from Bonneau, Bonneville, Boutin, Damboise, Landry and Murray.  However, if I went to any one of these family members or friends and asked if they were Franco, they would look at me funny and say, What is Franco?

Last fall I took FAS101, which was the beginning of a huge discovery in my life.  I was taking the course to simply fulfill a requirement and in turn I learned a lot of history and culture of people I had known all my life, but really didn't know.  My family for the last century has been full of very strong women and demanding and hard working men.  However, the matriarchs of my family are the ones who standout most prominently in my mind.  On my father's side my Great Grandmother Bonneville-Damboise, and My Grandmother Damboise-Wyman-Roy raised children alone in very difficult times after husbands died or left.  Wyman is a name with little significance to my family because the man whose name we bare left my grandmother in 1939 and was never heard from again.

Lastly, It's strange to think how one can grow up listening to their grandmother talking French on the phone and be surrounded by all these French names and practice Franco traditions on the holidays and not one person ever identified any of this as Franco-American.  So, I'm very excited about learning more about Franco-American ancestors and perhaps re-discovering the Franco-American heritage that is lost somewhere in my family.

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