The Life Story of Rose
It’s time to renew the old memory of me and my family. In those days the parents were very strict for sure. No, we had a lot of fun, but we had sad moments, too. It’s something, I think, my father, brothers and sisters would like to share with us today. My mother was the best woman in the world. Even relatives now still say she was the best. She never said a bad thing about anybody. She had a good heart. Some people say I’m like her like that. She was a cute little widow with two Young little girls. Their father died so young. After my father married my mother, the oldest one, Helena, she died. I was eight years old. Alice was only one years old. Helena and Alice, then mother had three more children before me: Charlie, Imelda and Aurcre. Then came me.
I was born on March 31, 1911 in St. Antonin. I born at niqht right after my mother came out of the barn in the chickens. My father wanted to call the doctor after during the day but she said no. She said she could not have the baby now. She had to finish the baby dress she was making. She still had to put the ribbon through the collar. She finished the dress before she milked the cows. The doctor did not come but my Grand mother helped my mother.
My father’s mother, Demerise, was the doctor for all her daughters and daughters‑in‑law when they get their babies. She was a good old lady. And my grandfather was a very nice man. We used to walk to their house a lot. She made good soup. We would pick blueberries and see moose along the way. My father’s name was Ernest. He stayed a few years in St. Antonin where I was born. When the family start to get bigger they buy a farm in St. Modete. I was onlv fifteen days old when we move. I moved on the wagon full of hay with my mother on the top with the other kids and the cow tied behind the wagon. My father was smart and good but sometimes rough. He never said too much but when he talked we were all scared. He would say, “You don’t want to eat, so to bed!” Tomorrow morning you’ll eat.” When he hit somebody he would hurt them a lot. He would hold a grudges too. I talk after him like that a little bit. When I was younger, not anymore, it’s crazy. My father use to smoke the pipe. He would slice and cut his own tobacco. One time, in the middle of the night, I had to get up to go to the bathroom. My father had put the tobacco slice on the floor. I didn’t see it and I step on it. It sliced a part of my heel. That was a sad time for me.
Charley and Imelda start to work very young on the farm. Aurcre was the weakest one, so my mother protect her more. I was eight years old when I started milking the cows. Imelda got a nickname. They call her …..(doll). My father got a blond female horse. My father would say “Catin ma jltment, Catin m‑=k fillc‑” (My mare the doll, my daughter the doll). That’s the horse he protect the most. He use to be rough with animals. No animal scare him.
When she was old enough Imelda had the job to kill the calf. Killed them and sold the skin for ten cents. We all had our jobs to do. We didn’t play too much in the house. Our friends were mostly our cousins and we would sometimes play in the fields. In winter time we would sled. When it rained we played in the hay in the barn. Sometimes my father would go to Quebec and come back with some little dolls for us and we would play with them. But mostly it was work.
In the winter time it was so cold. We would take bark off the wood and cut out a dog, horse or deer and stick that in the window before we go to bed. My father would do some for us, too. The next morning we were to get up and pull the bark from the window. The frost was so thick, we had a nice design in the window. My father still have his blacksmith shop after we move on the farm. He would make toys for us in his blacksmith shop. Sometime he built us a nice toy. We had fun with that. At Christmas time, we had a treat. He would hitch the “caricle” (an elegant two‑horse sleigh) and we would go to church and for rides. We had sheepskins on us to keep warm. We would heat up burlap bags full of straw and put those on our feet to keep them warm.
And all the kids we sleep upstairs. The heads of nails, was all frost, and there were cracks in the boards in the roof. But we had a good woolen blanket. There were no separations (partitions). There was a bed in every corner and even in the middle of the room. When we get up we sit on the stairs. We had the heat from the stove that way. We would watch my mother spinning wool to make yarn to knit mittens and stockings. She would also sew and make a lot of our clothes. She was very good. I learned to sew from her. And we had no bathroom. In the summer time, my mother would use a big (galvanized) tub in my father’s blacksmith shop to give us a bath and to wash our hair. In the winter time we would use the bedroom or the kitchen close to the stove. We keep on the big unbleached cotton bloomers, with the elastic on the bottom sometimes. We didn’t know nothing else but we were happy. We had plenty of good food they raise on the farm. In winter, Charley went in the wood with my father. When he go to sell a cord of wood he come back with a barrel of Molasses, light syrup, a hundred pound bag of flour and around two years round barrel of apples. My mother would make her own bread. She was so short that sometimes when she knead the dough in the bowl on the counter she would have to be on her tip toe while the other leg would jiggle when she stirred the dough. She used to make the best doughnuts.
She use to make “patatla cetbane” (cabin potatoes) or lipatate fricasse” (T’ricasse potatoes or scalloped potatoes). My father would eat the salt pork from it. Sometimes with it we would eat baloney, liver, or hamburg. It was the cheapest meal. With fourteen kids (later) around the table, we didn’t waste anything. Even when the bread was too dry, my mother put the slice on the top of the potatoes to get it soft, then we eat it. I learn to be a good cook from my mother. We had a big Icing table that crossed the room. We would all sit there, sixteen of us and eat our meals. We had three good meals a day. There was no snacking. The girls would help with the housework and the boys would work outdoors. The girls also had to work Outdoors sometimes.
We would have to bring the wood in at night. One time I was chopping some Wood and the axe went through my boot, my shoe, my sock and cut my toe. We also had to bring the water into the house. We had to make sure the lanterns were full so we could have light. There was no electricity.
We had no dentist, too. A neighbor by the name of Alphonse Saindon, pull everybody’s teeth. He pull my mother one time, she still have a lot of pain after. No injection in those days. When you had a toothache, you cry and suffer for days. The only relief they gave you to take cotton, soak it in alcohol, and put it in the cavity to kill the pain. The alcohol they make themselves and call it moonshine. And when you got an earache my father would smoke and blow the smoke in your ear. Aurcre was the one I remember the most she get lots of earache.
In the spring, my mother want Charley to go to school to learn his catechism and to make his communion. He didn’t want to go and Uncle Joseph chase him until he get in school. He learn very fast. He should say than you to Uncle Joseph today that he can write his name and learn what money was too.
In Canada, we got 1’ecole elementaire (elementary school). After we finish we went to what they call 1’ecole modele (model school‑ like ‑‑a secondary school but sooner than high school). I liked school. I had a hard time with arithmetic. I only had two teachers. All the grades were together in the same room. You always had the same teacher. I only went up to the fifth grade.
In St. Modeste, it was a girl. The sister of Josh Oltay’s wife, her name was Landry, she was the teacher. She was so little. All kids had a kick when she go to the pot in her bedroom. They (teachers) had their bedroom in school, sleep there all, in those days. There was no insulation and we peek between the cracks in the wall. We hear everything and the kids laugh. She set mad. All the kids go to toilet out‑ doors. They called that “la becosse”. Back in St. Antonin, the teacher was Josephine Dube. She was big and tall. We didn’t laugh too much, she was so strict. She got a yardstick, half to three‑quarter inch thick by two inch wide. When she make you put your fingertips together and she hit you with that two by four on your fingertips, that hurt SO much. She’s the one make me kneel down in the corner half the day. I got so sick I throw up. We never complain, the answer from your parent in those days, they told us we deserve it. When we went to school in Canada, every night after school my mother would look for lice. If she found them,
kerosene to get them out, then she would use a fine tooth comb. The Indians start to visit there, and the army, too. They find us everywhere. You see, whenever a baby was born, they told us the Indians came, hurt my mother on the legs so she can’t walk, and left a baby. I was only five or six years old I think when Cecile was born. We went to the neighbor Jos Guay. That’s the time I fell down ‑from the wagon. And that man, JOS Guay, had a basket of blue raisins. He gave us just a few, keep the basket in front of him and eat the rest alone. Even his own kids they had the same share we got. We use to pick up rocks in the field to get it ready for planting. My father would put pennies under some rocks so we would pick faster and more rocks. One time in the field with Mary, I found little pieces of dried up sheep noicettes” (droppings) I told Mary, make her believe they were raisins and she put some in her mouth. I had a good laugh. It was in St. Modeste too that me, we make dolls out of rags. For a crib we use my father’s nail box. He got different size nails all separated in the box. I am the one who when I empty the box to use for a crib. I didn’t know the difference. I got a good one when he found the doll box in the attic. He was so tall and big, he didn’t need a good slap to hurt us just a good one in the rear end with his big feet. But, somehow, I was always his favorite.
Sam was born in the year of the influenza of 1918 (Spanish Flu) after World War I. Everybody was sick like dogs. They got sick in the morning and some died that day and get bury the same day. They died so fast they can’t keep them like today. Only Charley, my mother and my father hold at the last minute. My father got sick and there was only Charley and my mother. Then Charley got sick one day and my mother to bed for Sam. And good old lady, Mrs. Nolasse Deschene, care of my mother. And Charley, with the help of Jos Deschene, the son of the lady who take care of my mother, manage to do the business outdoor on the farm. And Mrs. Eeschene, Arthur went and stole some apples from the apple trees on her land. My father went with him and make him kneel down and ask pardon. Arthur was a firebug, too. He set the fire a few times. One time, after, he find a place to hide, but my father got him a third the time. When I was very young what I remember especially about Cecile and Sam is they cried in the middle of the night. I would get up and go sleep with them in the crib. They called me “la friere aLe petit” (the mother of the little.
What I remember from Ti‑noire (Ernest), he got the measles and the “COqLtecILtche” (whooping cough) He take a whole bottle of syrup and he lose his voice. My mother was scared he never talk again. John was born the year they built a big new barn. Every people who work on the barn have a big dinner in the house. After dinner, the guys stall to go back to work. My mother told my father to get them out. We went to Uncle Joseph, was our neighbor. When we come back they told look, the Indians broke my mother’s leg again and left a baby (on the porch. But I never saw my mother’s leg in the cast or even use a walker too. He was the last one born in St. Modeste.
For Mom, after the Indians broke her legs so many times, the only time she really got her legs hurt was when she was almost killed by a bull. It’s the only time she used a chair to help her She was in the pasture milking cows and the bull attacked her. She got caught in the barb wire fence. Alice and Imelda yell to my father to come help. He yell back to take a stick and poke him away. They keep on yelling and then he come and he took a pitch fork and poke the bull ’till he hurt so much he go away and run in my uncle’s barn. Later, my father went to get the bull and took a big stick and beat the bull so bad they had to have him killed. Not long after that they sell the farm and move back to St. Antonin in the village not far from the church. The Indians visit my mother two more times there for Therese and Dolores.
Claire St. Laurent (the parish priest) was very strict about our dress length. We use to use a belt to tie our dress up, then we pull it back down for church and then back up again after. And if your neckline was too low you had to use a pin to tie it underneath “‘Our chin. Sometimes when he saw a neckline too low in church he would come down and grab the collar to close it up and say something to shame that person. He told us we would all go to hell if we went to the United States. He said our duty was to have kids. I guess he didn’t know about the Indians.
When we left Canada, the old “cobossi” (railroad car) was full. Each kid lay down on a seat. When we pass the border, the officer didn’t check too much the papers. I think he was sorry for my mother. She was scared to lose one of the kids. Before we got out from the train, she count us all the time. We pass the border September 1st and the officer notice another one coming. We arrived at the Grand Trunk Railroad Station in Lewiston. That was a big thing. One of the most important events in my life. Helen was born November 12, l925. But what a relief, no Indians around. We all stay home. Dr. Morin, with Mrs. Bureau RolRnd Carborinea take care of my mother. And my father watch the bedroom door. The only one he get lost, it was John when we live at 63 @:.noe, St. in Lewiston. Charley, with Alice’s boyfriend, went to the police station. He was there waiting. The cop ask Charley how many we were in the family and he said nine. He was embarrassed to say we were fourteen kids.
I remember Therese got a big bump on her leg. My mother take her to the doctor but he didn’t want to do anything himself and put the responsibility on my mother. She didn’t know what to do and the doctor didn’t help. That was sad times.
When I was around eighteen, nineteen or twenty years old one night I got mad at my father. Dolores she use to like to eat at night before going to bed. She would cry a lot. One night my father got ticked and hit her in the rear end good and hard. She went flying across the room and hit the bureau with ‑R ‑:Irak‑4er open. She almost hit the corner. I was working then so I went to bed early. I was in bed when I heard that and I out of bed so fast. I told my father ” You could’ve killed her.” After that, he never hit her again.
I was working very hard and went to bed early. Mary and Cecile would take advantage of that to my best dresses. Mary used my purple one and Cecile the black one. I’m, sure glad they can afford their own today. I can only buy cheap ones now.
Later in the United States. they use to call Ernest, “Ti‑riest”, “Ti‑noir‑” and “Tiss”. They call John, “Cocoll and Helene, “F’ez‑:tr‑iLtt”. We would play cards a lot and meet friends and go for a walk and go get ice cream. But, we all started to work pretty early. I was not quite sixteen years old when I started working at the Androscoggin mill. It was the only job around. When we first came to America I took care of some houses doing housework. But the mill was the only good jobs around. Later, I went to work at the Hill mill. Soon I ended up in the spinning room where I spent the rest of my life. It was hard. Sometimes during the war we would work five or six days a week, and sometimes fourteen and a half hours a day. I met my husband there at the mill. I got married when I was twenty three. He was six years older than me. We lived on Chestnut Street Where my son Don was born. I also took care of my sister‑in‑law Marianne who was dying of cancer. She was only thirty‑six That was sad. It was a terrible experience. I also took care of her two boys. Later we moved in with my mother‑in‑law and took care of her. I was so busy I didn’t have time to be. One time I’ had an abscess in my throat. The doctor came and sit on my I‑Rp and lance the abscess. It hurt. There was no anesthesia. Soon the other kids start to come. Time and move out. My father and mother bought a farm on College Road. Pretty soon, husband bought a farm too, right across the road from father’s farm.
My mother always tried to get the family get together on Christmas. After some of the kids get married we start to take turns to make the reunion between my mother, Alice, and I. Everybody in the family would get together. I try to buy gifts for my mother and for father and pick to buy for each other.
In the summer, during the 40’s we would have parties on our farm. When it would get hot, sheltered off the door fireplace.
When my mother’s brother, Uncle Cleophat Martin, from Lawrence, Mass., come visit with some of his children we had a real good time. They like to play tricks to each other, especially when they take Edward’s truck, that is Alice’s husband, and push it in the rear of my father’s barn, fill the truck with cow manure, and push it to my farm where they like to stay in the summer time. When he came back from the city from collecting his rents he went to my mother’s house for supper and for the party after the supper. He had to ride with a friend named Emile. And everybody wished rain that night to the make worse in the truck. In the morning, I saw Edward in of the truck manure so he can’t take the truck to go to church. And Arthur Martin was of the gaiety with the help of my brother. We all had a very good laugh. Something we never forget.
Ever I tried we went to Lawrence, Mass, after we come live in Lewiston or they come to visit us. Uncle Cleophat would kiss my mother and always cry. He happy to see the company but everyone very sad when we left.
Another time we didn’t forget is when my father’s brother, Uncle Omar, the last one of my father’s family, he passed away in May, at 83 years old, come for a wedding on College Road. The night after the wedding we all went to Imelda’s on Webber Avenue. When we get there, me, my husband, Alice and Edward, the house was full. We get in and start singing and Uncle Omer, he was still. Feet inches tall, Alice by the legs and Put him upside down with her head down shaking her. Those were fifties. Then the boys all went to war and we lost John. That was one of the saddest times in my life. I cried for three days. He was the first one of us to die. After‑ that the war get over. After that everything changed. When they said the war over, I was ri the rrii I l. At seven o’clock they said the friill :ir‑id told us the war was over. We had a big parade on Lisbon Street, a celebration we didn’t. When we go home some French people come to my mother’s house to celebrate. It not a celebration –For my ‑father., when you now One riever‑ come My rrcdther‑’s heal t Start to gc! Bad. She F‑‑ry Etf ‑ fectc‑d by her scn7‑s lost. She himITILtch. But said God knows what he is doing, he was not married and no kids. The Ones who were marr‑ied and had kids and didn’t come. Therese was married ir‑i Pit‑tgLisafter, the boys‑i‑art to come back. Sam was the first to come Sam was married in England.
Dolores got married December 2nd in a big, big storm. Everybody was late for the wedding. All the men were in the road shoveling to get them out to get to church. Around Christmas, Arthur came home ar‑td had malaria. Around that time my mother had an operation for cancer. Arthur Went to see her in the hospital. He never thought’, she was going to fna@‑‑.e it. I was there and it was very sad.
In April, Ernest got married and she came to t@ie wed‑ ding but didn’t feel good.My mother’s health was getting worse. Helen got married in June. 1?47 end too@‑.. care of my mother. She died in August just at the time she could Start to enjoy life after raising a big family. That’s the reward she had. Charlie, ALtrc‑re, Alice, Ti‑rioire, T@‑ierL‑se, Dolores‑R r‑, d me @@,r‑e a lot li@::e my mother. Arthur, Sam, Iffielda, Mary and Cecile are mc‑rt‑‑‑ li@..e my father. I don’t@:‑now about Helen.
About My own kids I have good memories. Don was spoiled by his Uncle Tony. When he was young, Tony would wrap him in his coat and carry him to the chicken coop to pick the eggs. That’s where they find out where Meiner Belleville hid her jar of candy. And when we play cards, Uncle Tony put him in the bottom of the cupboard to play with the pots and pans so we can play cards in peace. Another one who spoil him, it was Mrs. Fortier when we live on Lisbon St. She let him play in the sink full of water and wash the dishes. It was fun for them but not for me when he try the same thing in my house. Then he was old enough to start school at Kindergarten the girl that live next door, lead him to school. After a few days he did not want that anymore. He said he can find it by himself . He was a big five years old. When we move on Collee Road, he had to the bus . My friend next door ogre of hi Ti. 0 i‑i e t i fri E: 1‑@, e c I i (r,. b:t tree and got StLtC@’‑. Over there. He c E‑(ri @ ‘,‑ come dot,4n from above. My mother set hard time to him cu there. When he was old eric‑L,,gh to tEi@::e care of he got a friend around. H e got his dog named Sappy. T 1‑‑i e ‑‑Y, @,,, e.,i tto Davis Mountain and lost his dog. I give him the job to start to cooking the potatoes before they get home. :Do he g c) hoitie. I P‑iftet‑ we got Out @rOM on C)Ltr way home, CICSE to the mDLtnt.‑.‑timsaw the dog sit on the…. I told my husband it and I was happy. He stop the car and the dog jump in the car so Fast. When we got home I went in first and he start to cry. HE‑ said “Mom, I lost The dog”. I open the door and the dog comes in fast. Don kneel and Put his ‑Arm around his neck and kiss him. What a nice welcome the dog had.
But sometime he play trick we didn’t like all the time. For guy, live on Merrill Road had trouble with his car and stop home and ask for a ride with us to go to He park his car in front of the house. When Don get up he didn’t know the story. With the help of his friend, take all the air from the tires. When we come home after, poor guy was so surprised. He got all new tires he buy the week before in Sears. He got so mad about it tears he was ready to have a fight with them. My husband and him start to put air in the tires. All work good, so he use his car to go home. When Don got home we told him. He thought somebody got nerve to park his car On Our IE‑tMd. That’s when they decide to get the air out. Poor Don, he cotiierves too. He had to ride his bicycle and three miles to go apologize to the poor guy.
After Dot start school at St. Peter, he got the responsibility to take care of her to the bus. My Mom and Dad next door got an eye on them too. Dot was spoil by her father. When she want a nickel or a dime, she know where to go to ask. She was sure to get it. He bring her to the beer joint. That’s why she knows how to raise a glass today. Ha! Ha! And she would help the men at Carbonineau’s grocery store on corner Cedar and Lisbon. She go behind the counter, take a big knife and ask the people, “who wants some meat?” The boys have a kick out of that. They always remember.
Before she start school at St. Peter she went to Pettimaill school in kindergarten for a year, not far from the lady she babysit for her since she was six months old. That lady told me she was one of her best kids she take care of.
But let me tell you when she got home she cry a lot. She want everything. She didn’t win with me all the time. She want a bike, she never had one. When she graduate from high school in June 1972, she had a new pair of white shoes. When she get married that August, she want another pair of white shoes. We told her nobody’s going to look at her shoes. The people are going to get more interested to see those two young faces and wish them a happy life.
Sonny, her husband, just Start in the Army and was station at Fort HuachLica, Arizona. A few months after they get there, Dot travel 50 miles to go to Phoenix, Arizona by bus to get a pair of white shoes. She travel fifty miles to get back home. When she got home and tried her shoes. She got a pair of shoes that fit the same foot ‑‑ two left shoes. She was so mad she call them collect, so they mail her the right shoe.
I’m proud of my kids. Having kids was not much pressure or trouble for me. They were good kids. They didn’t give me any trouble. They were very important to me. I wanted them to go to school and make a better life than I did in the mill. When Don was going to college some people laugh. We help him sometimes and his grandfather, my father, and his uncles would laugh at us and say, “go ahead, throw your money away.” They don’t say that anymore. Today, I’m sure, if my father come back into the life, he would be glad to see my kids. Don was the first one in the family to go to college and not because he’s my son but everybody today say he’s very smart. I know Charlie and Arthur say that and some are jealous.
No, the big problems; the big pressures was taking care of sick relatives. I had take take care of my husband’s sister, Marianne, when she died of cancer. I had to take care of my sister Alice. I take care of my husband’s brother Tony’s widow, Blanche, when she died. I sometimes care of my husband’s brother Alphonse’s widow, Doris. The worse was taking care of my husband.
The biggest change in my life is when my husband got sick. That changed everything. I wish he was living today. I miss him but that’s life. He was fifty-nine when he started getting sick. When he was living we use to go to the beach and take trips and we worked together.
I’ve gone through many changes in my life, when I get married, when I have kids. When I move, when my husband died, when I retired and more. The people in my life change too. My husband was very special to me. My mother was also special and my brother Charlie. My daughter‑in‑law Mary and my daughter and my son and my son‑in‑law and grandchildren and great grandchildren are all special. I don’t have many regrets. After my husband died I should go back to…
When he got sick I shouldn’t have sold the house. But there’s more to be thankful for. I raised two nice kids. I’m glad for them and the way they succeed. Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt for my pension. What Would I do without the pension, huh? I’m not too much religious anymore. Religion was more important when I was younger. Not anymore, I don’t believe too much in that. It’s too hypocrite today. I’m in control of my life. Yes, I’m proud of myself up to this point ‑ a lot of people are worse than me. In five years I’ll be dead. Oh, I can tell. But, the world will worse, for sure. It will be worse if they don’t change. I would like to tell the kids today, “Don’t do drugs or alcohol, and don’t lie to your parents.