by Kerri Wyman
Friday, December 20, 2002 1:08:11 PM
From: Kerri Wyman
Subject: Final Project
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
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
Please note: Photographs were provided by Whitney
Friday, December 20, 2002 1:10:54 PM
From: Kerri Wyman
Subject: Final Project
To: Rhea Cote
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
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.