Rachel Guay

Rachel Guay

Interviewed May, 1999

 

I was born January 24, 1945, and from what I’m told it was an ice storm (laughs). And I was the last of 5 children. There’s 9 ½ years difference between my sister and I and my mother keeps telling me that my older sister didn’t want to go to school that day. My father was gone to work when her labor started. My sister didn’t want to go to school. She had a fit. She (the mother) sent her sister to the neighbors because where we lived, we lived on Hazel Street across the street from St. Mary’s Church (in Biddeford, Maine), and she sent my sister to the neighbors because we couldn’t afford a phone (laughs). She (her mother) sent her to the neighbors to call my cousin to come and get my mother, because we had no vehicle, to bring her to the hospital and go get my father at the bakery (laughs again) to meet her there. My mother and father never owned a car. So, that’s basically, ‑ and I lived there on Hazel Street until I was 5. To say that I remember a lot, I just remember, and this is funny, we didn’t have a full size bath. We had a flush, we had a lavatory but you didn’t have a tub. You took your baths in the shed. (laughs) In the winter it was in the kitchen. (laughs). They used to have those big copper kettles and warm up the water and you bathed in the kitchen in a portable tub type of thing. That, I remember! And I remember sleeping upstairs and it was beds that were tied together. I must of been afraid to sleep alone, because my bed was tied up with my sister’s. And when the trains used to go by, the beds used to rock because the floor wasn’t leveled. (laughs) We’d rock, we’d rock around the bedroom. (laughs) Those are things that I remember. (laughs). But to say that I remember the neighbors and stuff, you know, I was too young. We moved after that on Prospect Street, (in Biddeford) when I was 5. (She agrees that the youngest was almost 10 years older than her. Yup, and my oldest sister well she was my Godmother. She was old enough to be my Godmother. So basically, I

was raised with 4 mothers. (laughs) Three sisters and a brother and my mother‑ So I was raised with all these mothers. (laughs.).

Our language was mostly French and of course all our cousins, all our relatives were in Canada because my mother an father both came from Canada, which I’ve told before. They were first cousins. But they got permission from the bishop there in Canada to get married. And ah, but all their family they had ‑ I had one uncle on my father’s side that lived here in Biddeford. All the others were in Canada. So there were no extended family in the vicinity. None except for my uncle who had one daughter, who in turn had only one daughter. (She agrees that it was small) Yah, yah. The only time we’d really see all our family, our relatives would be in the summer.

My mother and father would go on vacation to my grandfather’s. So my grandfather would come here. As we got older my cousins would come and visit, and they never rented motels. They always, all stayed all together. And even though we had 5 people plus my mother and father, we still made room for everybody. That I remember, when my cousins would come for weeks at a time to go to the beach and we’d all sleep. I’ve seen one summer that my father and mother had rented some cots so they would have enough room to have everybody sleep. But to say that I was close to any of my cousins, I wasn’t because I just saw them off and on.

They (her parents) were very close with my uncle and would get together almost every weekend. Their big thing was they would play cards or and they would get together for picnics or go down the beach.

 

I went to catholic school from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Yah, I always liked school. Yes English was a second language until almost high school. You have maybe the morning session would be French, in the afternoon would be English, but grammar school was almost all French. And English was the second language, really, really, because you were taught almost everything, almost everything in French. Yah, until you got into high school. And to say that I really had English speaking friends, it was almost only in high school because we were all from French families in the neighborhood.

As I grew up, even my friends, not that their parents were basically from Canada, but their grandparents were, and a majority of them spoke French. The big majority of them spoke French. It was a very French town. (When asked if she felt different from other kids because of the language, she responded), nope. I don’t know if it’s because we all went to parochial school, ah, to say that we had friends that went to public school, I didn’t have any until high school. Almost until high school it was strictly friends who went to the same school I did. You know, not that we didn’t want to integrate. They just didn’t. (laughs)

I was almost brought up as an only child because of the age difference. And yet I didn’t have any extra privileges different than what my brother and sisters had. No. My father had never allowed any of us to have a bicycle. I wasn’t allowed to have a bicycle either. You know, it wasn’t any different.

I’ve been married 35 years and I have 8 grandchildren. I met my husband through my sister. My older sister started dating his older brother. So I was 8 years old and he was 11, and that was when we first met them, because the families became friends. So his mother and father and my mother and father became friends from my sister dating his brother. And then my other sister started dating his other brother and for awhile my brother was dating a cousin (of her husband’s). So we were always more or less thrown together because we’d get together all the time, all the time.(laughing) And then we started knowing each other. First it was, oh my gosh, you know, just like boys, they didn’t want me to be involved with their stuff cause he comes from a family of 6 boys and only 1 girl. So when I wanted to go play football with them or I’d want to go fishing, they didn’t want me around because I was a girl. But I insisted and even one time he (her husband) threw me in the river. I was in a boat with them and I wanted to go fishing. And he was with his cousin and his brothers and they didn’t want me. So they brought me to a dock. It was too high and I couldn’t climb. They said you have to get out over there. I said I can’t. I’m not tall enough. So they started the motor and I fell in the river. And they laughed. And I didn’t know how to swim and everybody was upstairs there, looking from the window, because he was raised by the river and they just laughed. They thought it was funny. But I struggled my way out of there. And to this day we still laugh. I say you tried to drown me. (laughs)

We ended up three sisters that were married to the three brothers. And all of us are still married. My sister’s been married hum 44 years, and my sister Claudette has been married at least 40 if not more and (35 years for her).

(She agreed that this makes for interesting family get togethers). Like I say, I was raised not knowing my cousins, my kids were raised that their cousins were almost like their brothers and sisters. Very close. Whenever we have a get togethers it is related on both sides because we are all very, very close. (She agrees it was a positive thing) Yah, yes. I used to complain when my sisters got married, I was still young enough that I baby‑sat for them. So I used to complain a lot and say that I was always baby‑sitting. And I never have time to myself because I’m always baby‑sitting. And of course I didn’t get paid for baby‑sitting. (laughs) And they used to say, oh yah, but one day our kids are going to baby‑sit yours. And I’d say no way. I’ll never have any. At the time I didn’t think. But it did (happen). The tables turned. Then it came a point that my kids were being baby‑sat by their cousins that I had baby‑sat because of the age difference. It did come out in the wash that we helped one another. (Her children were the youngest grandchildren)

 

My girlfriend Doris got engaged prom night. We double dated to go to the prom. Like I said it was pouring and so that we wouldn’t get our dresses dirty we wrapped up in bed sheets to get into and out of the car. And my girlfriend always thought that I was going to get engaged either for the prom or for graduation. Moe had asked me to give me my diamond for graduation. And I said no, I wanted a stereo. (laughs) So he had to go out and buy me a stereo. But I didn’t know at the time, he had already bought the diamond, put it in the safe at his mother’s and was paying on it. And I didn’t know so I said no, I don’t want to get engaged for graduation, I want a stereo. So he got me a stereo. I graduated in June and then July 4th, I told him now he could give me my diamond. So I was engaged July 4th instead.

I had three children, two girls and a boy. The boy is the middle child, and I lost one. I had a miscarriage. I got married right out of high school. I got married the following May. I graduated in June, I got married the following May. We were suppose to be married in September, the year after I graduated. We had all our plans made and my husband got his draft papers, and when we got married in the 60’s the law was that if you were married, you were automatically reclassified 4F. So we had 3 weeks to plan a wedding. And I’ll never forget it because my husband was working third shift in the mill. and I was doing my usual thing of going to dances on Saturday nights. (laughing) He didn’t mind, even though we were engaged. I went dancing every Saturday night and in the summer it was twice a week. A bunch of girls, and a bunch of guys. We had fun. It was my thing, I loved to dance. And Moe never said anything, never complained, never said no you can’t go. He wasn’t a jealous man, because I don’t think I would of married him. And we would get back together at 11 o’clock when he got out of work and his mother had said we had to go see her. Well we thought, oh crows, what did we do? We didn’t do anything. We’re not in trouble. Why does she want to see us on a Saturday nights We got to his mother’s, and a my family was there. Like I said, I had all these mothers. So all my mothers were there, my sisters were there, his mother, and they asked us of we really wanted to get married. We said yah. Why? Well you have 3 weeks. You’re getting married on such and such date, because of his papers that he got. We ended up getting married in May. And they basically just planned the whole thing because we didn’t have time and we didn’t have any money either because Moe was supporting his mother. His father had passed away, his brother ‑ his father died in July, and his brother, who was supporting the family, got married in September. So at 15 Moe started working to support his mother, his younger brother and his sister. And he used to have $10.00 a week to take care of his expenses. (during interview cat jumps on table and scares us). (laughs) And so when she (Moe’s mom) said we were going to get married, I said well I’d like to have some money. We need more than $10 a week to be able to get married. (laughs)
So we had an apartment on the third floor and I got pregnant almost right away. We got married in May and the following May, on our first anniversary we were baptizing our first child. And that was our first daughter. And I went back to work part‑time. And my mother‑in‑law was taking care of my daughter. I was working at a department store. So she’d take care of her. She did for maybe, not even a full year. My mother‑in‑law got sick. And she had cancer. So I had to quit my job and I ended up taking care of my mother‑in‑law until she died. And when she died, she had 2 children left at home. So the daughter went to live ‑ my sister‑in‑law Doris went to live with one of her brothers and I took Moe’s brother in and raised him like as if he was one of my own, even though he was almost my age. But he stayed with us until he got married. So he had to grow up quick. And I was pregnant for my second one at the time, oh my third, my son. That was my third pregnancy. (Second was a miscarriage) But I never told my mother‑in‑law that I was pregnant. Because I knew she wouldn’t want me to take care of her. So I didn’t tell her that I was. I took care of his brother while he went to the military and then came home and lived with us until he got married. But to say that we were alone, nope, not much. Well maybe the first year. And we’ve always had someone with us ever since. And even when our kids grew up, we always had a house full and we got used to it and I like it. And so does he‑ You know, we don’t mind having a lot of people going in and out. You know. He comes from a big family and ah so do we. We just got used to having people all around us. When the kids got married, which they did. They a got married within a year or 11 months. I lost all three of them. And I never got used to it really. It took a while to get used to it. But now I like being alone but I like it when they come over too. And the same thing with the grand‑kids. Right now my God, my dream would be that I would be rich enough to retire now and just enjoy my grand‑kids and go to work when they’re grown up. (she laughs) I’d like to have these years now while they’re still young. Well I had my summers. I always had my summers off. Which I don’t regret. I never worked full time while they were             Growing up. and once ‑ I started going back to work when the youngest was in school. ‑when she started school. I started on the lunch program (at school). I stayed with it, all through ‑ oh my gosh, since ’76’, and I had started a few years before that really. It started with the city (working for the city of Biddeford) in 76. But I had started in 74 when Donna (her youngest daughter) started kindergarten. And I always kept that job because it was ideal. I was home the same time the kids were. I was leaving the same time they were in the morning. I was home before they got home from school. When they didn’t have school, I didn’t work. And in the summer I didn’t need a sitter. And I was here to know where they were and what they were doing and I liked it. And that way if their friends wanted to spend the day, fine. I just wanted it that way. And even after they were grown up and gone to work, I was still doing it because I enjoyed it. So, but I wish I could do the same thing. Not necessarily to baby‑sit every day, but just to enjoy. Like say I was to volunteer in one of their classes or go to their activities if they have something going on at school. Or right now I’m trying to find time in between to go to their baseball games, basketball games and what have you. But I find that the time is limited because going back to what we’ve been doing since 1977. We’ve been running a service station. So running your own business, you give up a lot of your free time. And my kinds were raised (phone rings). We started a business in 1977. So, the kids were always raised with parents working the business. The first business we ran was not as time consuming as the one we have now because we used to close, ah like lets say when he first started. Well we didn’t close that early, from 6 in the morning till 10 or 11 at night. So basically, I raised the kids by myself. And on Saturday, I’d always go and do book work. I’ve been doing bookkeeping since we’ve been in business. So Saturday morning, my son would go and join a bowling league because I wanted to make sure they still had something to do. And the girls would do ceramics. (laughs) So I had them taken cue of so I could do my work and that I know they were doing something they enjoyed. So they did ceramics and my son would do his bowling league. And then at noon time, I ‘d go pick them up. And to say we really went very far, no. We’d probably take a couple of weekends off in the summer to bring them to Riverside Park or a weekend in the mountains. But we always had a swimming pool. So they always had plenty of activities going on right here. And on weekends it was always a get together with the family. And as they got older we started renting a cottage. One week or two weeks in the summer that we rented a cottage. We would go there for the week. My son and my kids, my two girls and my son and myself But my husband would always have to come back. He really couldn’t take any time off. We were maybe one year that we didn’t have a pool in the back yard and we missed it. So we decided to have another one put in and then we didn’t rent the cottages any more. We just stayed home through the weekend. But the kids didn’t seem to mind. I don’t think they missed it. (laughs) You know him we brought them to Florida once. But they never complained. So I don’t think they missed out that much because they had plenty of friends and cousins and what have you to keep them busy.

My three kids went to public school. Yah, all three of them at public school. (When asked about parochial school) We were more disciplined and ah, I remember the nuns teaching us manners. Ah, I don’t think my kids were, it was more taught at home, the manners. But I remember in school being taught not to put your elbows on the table, and how to set the table properly. I didn’t remember my kids ever coming home and saying they had learned that in public school.

But they still got a good education. I’m not sorry that I didn’t send them to parochial school. Because I think, really, my big thing is it all depends who your friends are and if your parents know who your friends are. I always knew who they were going with. And I tried to know all the time where they were suppose to be and if not, I’d go get them.

I mean like I said, I didn’t notice that they missed out that much from not going to parochial school. I was satisfied with the public school, the education they were getting. (asked about were morals are taught) yah, it has to start at home. Because I’ve seen kids that have gone to parochial school and still lose their way. And some other kids who have never gone to parochial school and turn out to be very fine. Grown up and fine citizens, I mean, you know. No, I think it has to start at home. We need to have some values at home. And I don’t care if it is one parent or two parents. As long as the parents care and care enough not to be their friend. Be a parent first. You know. Not that I didn’t want to be their friends. I want to be open for them to talk to me. But I also wanted to be the parent first. And they knew, more or less, that I was the law.

Well when I was growing up, it was easier. There was not as much peer pressure as there is now. And now there’s even more than when my kids were going to school. I find my grand‑kids have more peer pressure than when my kids and myself. It seems when I grew up, we didn’t ‑ there wasn’t the big differences. You know, ah, we were all almost all in the same boat. Nobody was very very rich or very very poor. We were, we were all most all middle class, more or less. And everybody did. You didn’t have to out do the other one. When my kids grew up, there was a bit of a difference. But there wasn’t much emphasis on wearing name brand clothes. Not until they were almost in high school. And yet not as much as today. Now gosh, even the young kids are conscious. Yes certain types of bicycles and different things like that. But I’ve even seen my grand‑kids sometimes make comments ‑hum look at his bike. I’d say well look, not everybody can afford to have new bikes or the clothes that you wear. But this person still has feelings and I want them (her grandchildren) to grow up and feel that way. Not to look at just the exterior of what he’s wearing or what kind of bicycle he has or what kind of roller blades or what have you. Just look at the person for himself or herself

(Regarding exposure to a variety of cultures) Possibly, not exposed to any other culture. Maybe a little bit in high school. I had a friend who didn’t speak French and she, you know, I was more or less always with a group of Catholics, even. And she wasn’t but we never made a big deal about it. No but to say that I was exposed to different cultures‑no not really. Maybe it’s because from being in catholic schools all the time. But we didn’t. To say I got a big exposure, no.

 

(When asked about exposure after marriage) Yes, not a lot because we always lived here in the Biddeford/Saco area. So, but I mean, being in business, we had customers that were Jewish and other nationalities. My husband had worked for some Greeks growing up. But they’re people just like everybody else. You never found a difference. I didn’t any ways. But to say I have had a big exposure, no, no. Not really. And I don’t think it would really make a big difference. Because I always try, and I try to took at the person’s inside not just the outside. Everybody, to me everybody is worth something. Regardless what they do for work. To me they are important. I mean, I worked for so many years in school that I wasn’t exposed like I am now in the guidance office. I see, I have more interaction with the kids. And ah, I don’t know how to explain it.

The families, there’s a big mixture of families, it’s not basically all just your Irish families and your Franco American. You have ah, a bigger variety. You have people from your Asian families, and theirs is a bigger mixture which I think is not bad. Yes there is more cultural diversity. And I’m hoping that everybody gets along. They seem to be. I mean, ah, I have an Ukrainian family that delivers our newspaper. Oh they’re cute. They are fascinated by things we take for granted, ‑everyday things and they are so fascinated by it.

(Regarding changes in community) No, I don’t think so. Maybe, but I’m so busy sometimes just with my own family that I miss out on what’s going on sometimes on the outside world, which I should get more involved. But I don’t. (She doesn’t feel she is missing something.) Sometimes I feel like I’m on a merry go‑round, and that someone forgot to stop it, and give me time to get off and see what’s you know. I’m really, I feel tied down. That’s why I say, I’d like to have sometime to myself. Not have to work 2 jobs, which is basically what I do.

The job that my husband has is 3 65 days a year. We chose it because it is all he has ever done. But ideally, I would like to have just one job. To spend more time, to go out and and see, travel and enjoy your family more. I don’t have the time. (Asked if she sees more free time in the future) I’d like to. We keep saying 10 years from now hopefully we won’t be doing this. (laughs) So in 10 years, hopefully less, I’d like to be able to say, you know, have time to do simple things. Go away for the weekend. Ah, take in the kids games and enjoy before they’re all grown up. Yah, especially in the summer.

(Regarding how she felt in the family as she grew up.) Like I said before, I felt like I had a lot of mothers.(Laugh) to say I ever had ah some, a stranger other than my sisters baby‑sitting me, no. It was always my family. ah you know, and even if my mother and father went out, and my sisters were older and they had started dating, and they couldn’t leave me home alone. Their going out was to go to friends and play cards, I went with them. Regardless of whether there were other children for me to play with or not. I went with them. And, but they didn’t go out that often and they did associate with one of my father’s brother. Then I had a second cousin who was a friend there, ah growing up and we grew up together.

(Regarding having been the only child for awhile growing up) Well you figure the last one ( her sister) got married in 1956, so I was all those years by myself. Then the others were all married. I’ll always remember when the first grandchild was born, my nephew. I was 8 years old. I was jealous that when it came time for his first Christmas, they had bought him a teddy bear, and I had to have one. (She laughs) I wanted one. I thought he was cute but he was taking my spot. He was getting the attention At the time I didn’t think of that but I look back and I say yah, there were times that I didn’t really like him. He was taking my place. Because before, I was getting all the attention at Christmas time and at Easter. My brother and sisters were older so they (she breaks laughing) they took care of me, and now he was the first one and I was only 8 years old. As I got older I got over that. but for a few years. ‑

 

Like everybody else, I think my hardest time was my teenage years. Because I was headstrong and my father ‑ I mean he got married at 27. Back then when you got married at 27, you were old. So by the time I was born, I don’t know, how old, ‑he really didn’t want to get involved with kids any more. You know. He had gotten involved with my brother and my sisters and so my mother was mostly the one that was disciplinarian and what have you. And I think the teen years were the worse. That I wanted to do certain things and like to go into a bowling alley, that was taboo. And I could not understand why I could not go to a bowling alley. My girlfriends would go bowling and I couldn’t. I did any ways and I’d always get caught. (laughs) To this day I think my father walked around down town and followed me because I’d come home and he knew or he had spies. (laugh) He’d tell my mother to discipline me. You know. Things like that. I couldn’t go to the bowling alley. Ah, my friends would go to the drive‑in movies. I was not allowed. (Regarding going into cars for dates) I could go into cars because my husband was related almost. See we grew up together. I started dating my husband very young. But my two other sisters were married to his brothers and my mother knew, my mother and father knew his family. So well, so they didn’t mind that I went with him. but not other people. But they didn’t, you know, that they didn’t mind. And yet I couldn’t go like I said, couldn’t go to the bowling alley, couldn’t go to the drive‑in, different things like that. And if they wanted to punish me, all they had to do is say I couldn’t go dancing. And that was it. That was you know.

I went to regular school dances and in the summer they had places like the ‘Lightning Club’ (in Biddeford) and dances down the beach (at Old Orchard Beach) that we used to go to. And like I said before we never had a car and my husband at the time was working, so he wouldn’t come. I’d take the bus.

 

High school was pretty uneventful. Ah, to say that I had anything major, no. In the beginning in my freshman year I had, I was of course on the dance committee, because I loved it. And I joined basketball. But then after that, I went to work all through high school. During my sophomore year I started working in a department store. I worked at Nichols. I had started during summer and usually they would lay us off and rehire you for the holidays seasons because the town was booming by then and I didn’t want to get laid off. I liked to work because of course while growing up my favorite things were dancing and clothes. I loved to buy clothes and so I wanted to continue working and I noticed that the stock boys worked all year round. So I told them I wanted to be a stock boy. They had never heard of female stock boys. First of all, when we worked back then, the boss that I had ‑ we could not wear pants. You had to wear skirts or dresses. You don’t wear pants to work. And I insisted that I could be a stock boy. So with my skirts and my dresses, I was a stock boy. And so they kept me and I marked the merchandise and then at Christmas time, I’d work in the regular store. And from there I, when I got into my junior and senior year, I started working in the office, doing clerical work, in the office, bookkeeping. And I continued until my daughter, my first one was born. I went back, but I only worked maybe, oh, from she was born in May, I may of worked until maybe August or September. And then my mother‑in‑law was baby‑sitting and she got sick. I didn’t continue. I ended up quitting so that I could take care of my mother‑in‑law for a year. She had cancer of the pancreas. So I left my 5 month old baby with my sister, who had 5 children. And she couldn’t go because my mother‑in‑law had to go to Boston to have surgery. And so I went with my sister‑in‑law who was 16 at that time. And the two of us who had never left Biddeford went to five in Boston to visit, so she (my mother‑in‑law) would have someone to visit her every day. And when she came home the nurses showed me how to take care of her. I was gone about a month. In a months time I came home once one weekend so that I could see my daughter. Once in a while, I’d telephone my husband, but not often. And my sister would write to me. And I still remember one day that she wrote to me that, not to cry, but that my daughter had just cut her first tooth. Well needless to say, I did cry and then I wanted to come home.

(Regarding whether she felt obliged to take the responsibility) I’m so family orientated, I feel that I have to. It’s, it’s a commitment that I just do. And even after she passed away, her son came and lived with us until he got married. He was with us but not very long because then he got drafted. Ah you know, she (mother‑in‑law) like she had passed away in June and the following fall he would, he was drafted into the Army. So he’d come just back and forth. And then he was with us for maybe a year and he got married. But I never, I never looked back. I figured this was something I had to do. I grew up quick, because I got married at 19 and I had a child by the time I was 20. And I took care of my mother‑in‑law and I had another child. By the time I was 23, I had had 2 children, had taken care of my mother‑in‑law and had taken care of my brother ‑in‑law. So (laughing).

While we were first married we didn’t do much because we couldn’t afford it. So, ah, we visited family. Like we’d go see his brother and my sister‑in‑law. But to say that we went out a lot, once in a blue moon we’d go out to eat. Sometimes we’d go out to eat if somebody had a pre‑nuptial dance. We’d go to pre‑nuptial dances. But to go out a lot while the kids were growing up, no. When they got a little older then we started having friends, and we’d have a sitter. And we still liked to go to some nice restaurant. Or else maybe a couple or one or twice a year we’d to North Conway to go away for a weekend. Even my mother would be willing to baby‑sit, ah even though they were teenagers and they were m high school and what have you. Ah we needed ‑ we thought we had to get away, our thing was to go to North Conway. But other than that we didn’t go very far without them.

To say that I have one particular person that I admire or that has ‑ I admire my mother. I think she probably really had a lot of influence because she was a giving person. She was always helping, always offering to help. That’s probably where I got it from. But I think my mother played a big role in that.

(Regarding going back to school) Right after high school I never gave it a thought. Ah, after my kids were older, when they were young, no. I was too busy. But then as they got older, I keep thinking yah, I should of and I would of been able to. But I never found time for myself I was always busy giving to everybody else, which I still do. But people have to tell me, well it’s time to think of you.

(Regarding not doing much for herself) I really enjoy doing for others. During school season, I, I’m mostly alone every night except for weekends. Ah, but in the summer, it’s a revolving door and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m a people person. No I don’t mind being alone. I like to read, I like to listen to music. I’m not a t.v. person. I can’t get involved, sometimes, but very seldom. I enjoy reading more, and listening to music while I’m reading. Ah, I don’t get lonesome. No. No. And if I had the opportunity to travel, I don’t think I’d get lonesome. I’d miss my family but I’d enjoy it, more than my husband would. My husband is more a homebody than I am. If I could pack my bags and say I’m going put, he’d’ let me go.

 

He doesn’t hold me back and I never force him to participate in things he doesn’t like to do. I like to go to concerts, I like to go to plays. I usually try to go to the Ogunquit Playhouse at least once a year. And like, I’ve been doing the past few years, is going to the Boston Pops Concert or if I have an opportunity to go and see a local play. I enjoy those things. And I don’t mind going by myself. If he doesn’t want to come with me, I don’t care. I’m willing to go. Ah, I don’t have a hard time. I don’t think, any ways, of making friends or going into an event that I have to walk in by myself and I won’t know anybody. I have no problems with that. I’m not that shy that I’ll find some place and somebody to talk to and I’ll get along fine. I wouldn’t be good at being a public speaker but I have no problems going to anything and walking in just alone.

My grandchildren are a joy. I have 6 boys and 2 girls. And to say that I have any favorite, I try not to. I don’t spoil them any in the way of buying lots of things. I spoil them by letting them come over. Ah their big thing is when they sleep over, I allow them to have a batch of popcorn and sit up in my bed and watch movies. And I let them eat the popcorn in the bed. And they like that. Hopefully when they grow up they’ll remember. And even one time, I have 2 grandsons and a granddaughter that five in Connecticut now. That one year I had made for them coupons that they could redeem at any time to come over and have a sleepover for popcorn and a movie in bed at memere’s. And they thought it was great that they were gonna come over and have popcorn and a movie, or else set up sleeping bags and sleep in the cellar. And now I want this year ‑ I’d Eke to have a sleepover but they’d sleep outside (in a tent). They’re getting a little older. To say that I do a lot of things like buying all their clothes or no, no. But I enjoy them, I really do.

I have one grandson who has a heart problem and he can’t take part in any competitive sports. So I’ve made an agreement that for as long as she (my daughter) wants to, she can sign him up for swimming lessons and I’ll make sure to find time to take him to his swimming lessons. And if later she would like get him involved in a musical instrument or golf, I’ll go the extra mile to give him that time so he can take part. Like I said, I try to go to at least a couple of their games. I even took trips to Connecticut so I could go see them play sports also. Because I enjoy it. I enjoy seeing them.

I enjoy working quite a bit. It’s hectic at times. I really don’t foresee, I think I’ll work another 10 years for sure. And then my ideal thing would be to go back to working just during school time and having summers off. That I’d like to do again. I’ve done it for all the time my children were growing up. I worked for the school system which was ideal and I liked it. I was able to be home in the summer to know what they were doing to know where they were going, to be the taxi to bring them where they wanted to go. I’d like to go back to doing that later and just do fun things for the kids in the summer.

Well I only have‑ only one daughter that works full time. And I can see how she misses it. How she, she has the guilt that she’s working and yet she’s missing out and ah, their doing fine but I still see a guilt that they go through. My other daughter stays home and my daughter‑in‑law stays at home. And I don’t we that the kids are being raised any different. But there’s a guilt, all the time that my daughter feels, that when she does have some time off she has to do something special, because she doesn’t see them as much.

I find it is more hectic, she has to get up early in the morning, get the kids ready, go to work, come back, hurry up, go to games. They have supper some times it’s 8 or 9 o’clock at night. When my kids were growing up we didn’t have to have supper that late, because I’d go home from work early. I was home at 3 o’clock. I think it was easier doing it that way, than working full time. I don’t regret it at all doing it the way I did it.

No, not really (regarding having any regrets)

Like I say, I probably would of liked to go back to school. And ah, as far as the way I raised my kids, I don’t think ‑ from my seeing what they have become, I’m very proud of them. And so I don’t see, no I think I’d probably do the same all over again.

 

I’d like it to be a little less hectic (meaning her life). If we could, to have what we call like a 9 to 5 job, that our evenings would be to ourselves and the weekends with be to ourselves. To do what you want. Ah, cause he (her husband) rnissed out a lot because he worked. I wasn’t working, so he worked 2 jobs. Until my youngest started school, I didn’t work. So he worked 2 jobs. He missed out. He’d leave in the morning, we’d still be in bed and come home at night and they (the kids) were getting ready to go to bed. So he did miss out a lot seeing the kids grow up. And if we could do that over again, that it would be not so many hours concentrating on our business. That, I’d like to have back. I don’t foresee it because he’s always done the same thing. He’s always worked more or less for himself, self‑employed.

One year way back in 1979, we had just started our business in mid 70’s. My husband came home and he had sold his truck and had been working very hard. He had sold his truck and came home and said we were all going to Florida. So we took the kids to Florida and worded about what we were going to have for a vehicle when we got back. (laughs) He decided we were all going to Disney World. The kids were overjoyed. We spent just a week but we had a wonderful time. When we came back we went shopping around for a vehicle. And my mother was so flabbergasted at that time, that we were actually doing something other than going out to eat or going bowling or something. She couldn’t see me leaving. She said she’d be lonesome. So I said, you come too. And she did. (laughs) We took one trip after that in 1989. To say we had big vacations, we’d take little mini vacations, little weekends here and there. Take weekends to go to North Conway. Some other times we’d take weekends to bring the kids to the mountains. But we never took one whole week at a time never. (Until) For our 25th anniversary we went to Hawaii for 10 days. And the year after we went on a cruise in 1990. And we haven’t had a vacation since, at all, other than going to visit my son in Connecticut. We have not taken any time off. So we’re overdue!

 

(When asked about her job, Rachel responded that she finds it satisfying). It’s hectic at times. The only thing that really ‑. My other job that I did for the lunch program for 20 years, I was able to plan what I was going to do. I did not have as many interruptions as I do now. Now I go in and I never know. Well today I’ll be able to do this and it goes all out the window. And it took me a while to be able to let go and say OK I can’t get this done today. I’ll do it tomorrow. I felt compelled that I had to stay longer and still do something for my own peace of mind. I stay longer than I should have to. But at least I feel better. I feel I’ve accomplished something. Like I said many times before, I’m such a people person, I love people so much that that’s why I don’t mind all the hussel and bussel. And ok that’s the only thing, is to know that you go into work and you cannot say that today I will do so many things or I’ll do this. It just goes out the window. For almost a year, that flabbergasted me. I’d do home and say, I didn’t do anything. All I did is answer the phone. And do something at the spur of the moment that someone asked. and that was it. Nothing else would get done. I get home fired, but I still enjoy it. If I had my summers off I’d be working at the garage. I did with my other jobs. Had my summers free and once we started with this new garage, when it opened ‑ it never closes. 365 days a year, which is what our contract asks for. I found myself spending ½ of my summer there. Or if my husband was gone for a lunch break or something, someone would call me. I’d have to go down and do all his book work. The only treat, I’ve taken this time is that I’ve hired a payroll company to take care of the payroll and to do the quarterlies and the end of the year taxes. Other than that, I do all the rest. I do all the record keeping that needs to be done. And if my husband cannot be there to do the nightly deposits, or do the scheduling for the gas attendants, I will do that also. The only thing I refuse to do is pump. I don’t pump gas. (laughs)

(She really didn’t give her French culture influence a thought). Her children were not married to families born and raised in Canada. As far as the French language, they are losing it. My grandchildren do not understand French. My youngest daughter has a hard time. We’ve lost the language a lot because we just started to speak English. They learned a few words here and there. When I’m with my sisters and my brother and my mother, we’ll speak French more. But the children ‑ my two oldest ones when they were small before they started school, spoke only French, mostly. But then once they started school, they immediately started speaking English and gradually lost more and more of it. They understand but they do not speak it very well. Like I said my youngest doesn’t understand. I have to interpret. She’ll understand a few words here and there and that’s it.

Religion was always very important to us. And not as much now I raised my children to go to church every Sunday. They were all baptized, did first communion and confirmation. And until they got married, I always made sure they always attended services faithfully. And now, most of them don’t practice their own religion‑ They go, they attend but not on a regular basis. And yet they all found it very important that their children get baptized. They found it very important that their children do their first communion which was hard for me at first to take. I’d say well why bother, because you don’t attend. But that’s their way of thinking. It’s important to them that they get baptized, that they have their first communion and that they do their confirmation. I have one grandson that’s done his confirmation and has stopped going to CCD (religious education). Hopefully he will pick up the interest later on. But for now he’s not interested. He’s satisfied that he was confirmed and that was it. To them they felt they’d done their duty. (laughs) Of course I went to catholic school which makes a difference also. My children didn’t go to catholic school and yet I didn’t stop it at confirmation. I kept on, ah, making sure that they attended church on weekends and the holy days of obligation. After they were married, well I figured, it was time for me to step back. I don’t want to get involved, you know‑ make it an issue, because I feel it’s not up to me. It’s their decision, it’s their family.

We always look forward to ‘La Kermesse’ (yearly French cultural celebration in Biddeford). We don’t participate as much. We don’t go as much as we used to at the beginning. As far as, I like the parade, I like the tents to see the families, the pictures. (each year a new family’s pictures and coat of arm are displayed) That is very interesting. I find it very interesting. They do a family history every year. As far as the carnival part of it, that I could do without. I enjoy the French music and even my kids enjoy it. But they always try to make it a point that they go and they know I enjoy it so they won’t even ask for me to baby‑sit. They all have a sitter to go. And so I can go and enjoy it also. I like it.

 

My parents were born in a very small community in the Province of Quebec. A little town named Hamnord. it is very very small. Growing up and being the youngest, when my father and mother took vacations it was usually to go to Canada to visit the rest of the family. We’d always go visit my grandfather. My mother’s. I remember my grandfather, my mother’s father more than the others. My father’s mother and father, I think they passed away before I was born because I don’t remember them at all at all. I do remember my grandmother from my mother’s side and my grandfather. More my grandfather than my grandmother. I had many aunts. I had aunts and uncles. Now there is only one left, living. And I have many cousins that I don’t even know because they all lived in Canada we didn’t’ get to see them that often. What happened one time I went to La Kermesse and met someone there. One year at La Kermesse, a table behind me, someone commented how well I could speak French. And we started taking and come to find out he was a cousin, a first cousin that I didn’t even know. He asked me what my name was. I told him what my maiden name was. His mother was my mother’s Godmother, and I had never met the man. And to this day now, he comes every year. And we’ll make a point to come and visit. (laughs) Yes, he was my cousin and I didn’t even know him. He knew my brother and my sisters, but he didn’t remember me because I was younger and he just didn’t remember seeing me and I didn’t remember him at all. So now, almost every year, he’ll make a point of calling and dropping in. If they come and visit he’ll stop in. To say that my children really saw a lot of my relatives from

Canada, they didn’t. No, because as my aunts and uncles passed away, the need to go to Canada every year as my mother and father used to go visit their brothers and sisters was gone. The family grew apart because they weren’t as close to their nephews and nieces as they were to their own. So we’ve lost contact, more or less with them. So it’s kinda sad in a way.

My family and my friends, to me that’s my life. I think people would describe me as, I’m kinda bubbly. I’d want them to see me as being bubbly and they would probably say I’m a person who can’t say no. I have a hard first to say no. I think more of of them more than I think of myself. They wouldn’t see me as being a shy person. No. And I probably hopefully think that people wouldn’t think of me as being a selfsh self‑centered person, because I don’t feel that way. So that’s the way I like people to think of me.

I’d like them to remember me as a loving person. Hopefully, eventually that I, I would get to travel. I’d like them to remember me as being a loving person and not be afraid to give your time to others. It doesn’t hurt, that they wouldn’t be afraid to help someone and not be afraid of helping any type of people. Not being afraid of being friends with people who are more educated, have more money than you. And not be afraid to be friends to the ones at the bottom, who are struggling. To be able to do both, be friends with both, not only with your middle class. To be friends and to appreciate the people who have less than you, and not be mean to them or demean them because they’re doing the best they can with what they have.

(Asked to describe her husband) Well my husband is a giving person. He thinks more of others than himself. And he likes to help people who have less than he does. He’s, he goes the extra mile for that because he struggled. He is a business man who cannot read or write. So I have been enabling him for 35 years. But I admire him that he can do it, you know. He has to work much harder, he has to memorize everything. He’s always there to help people out. It was nothing for him when we were first married and I wasn’t working that he’d call up and say, so and so is going to come to eat, one of our workers. He’d invite him over to eat or you know they needed some help, some medical attention. He would give the rides to go to the hospital, to the doctor’s. I’ve seen times that he‑‑. We had workers that had tooth aches, they had no dentist. He’d make the appointment, he’d take the time, he’d take them to the dentist, have their prescription filled and bring him home.

 

Yes our children have always seen their mother and father helping everybody out. Well, to say we were well off financially, we’re not because we are always giving. And that to us is wealth. That’s the way we enjoy it. It’s what we like to do. I had a..nephew who had hardships, had to come back home. He had no place to five. And we had an apartment, so we let him use the apartment. We furnished it. And he didn’t have to pay a single thing. We furnished the apartment, the lights, the furniture. All he had to do was feed himself, until he was able to get back on his feet. And we didn’t mind. And if we had to do it all over again for someone else, and we could, we would. Often times we had people comment saying why do you do this. That’s the way we like to do it, and we feel that somewhere along the line, it will all come back to us.

People, friends are friends. You know it’s not for what we can give them. If we need help, everyone is more than willing to help out. So I don’t think it hurts. Not at all.

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