Life story interview with TREFFLE BOLDUC, age 85
It is Feb. 17, 1998 and we’re sitting in the living room of Helen and Treffle Bolduc of Redstone. We’re got to hear Treffle’s life story.
Well, as you know, my mother died when I was 11 months old, so there were nine of us and my mother died at 35 years old. That’s her picture up their. (Pointing to the wall) and my father had quite a lot of family to support. So my aunt, my mother’s sister, had no children at that time, so they took me all on as their child. There were no adoption papers, just that I was brought up by them in Gorham, New Hampshire. We did in a small neighborhood thereof French Canadians. All of us were French Canadians in the only language we talked was French and when you asked me something about young kids. Well, when I was young, I guess so we talked about was the children… I mean, we play it all a time it was all outdoors playing as far as I remember. We used play a lot of cowboy in Indian games. All of the activities were outdoors and I do remember we had an organ in our house. And my grandfather, he was a Mason and he built a garage out of stone. It’s still there now. And one of my aunt’s played the organ, I remember that part. And whenever any body died, they always went into the room where the organ was and that’s where they were on exhibition. There were no funeral homes in those days and it was,ah, like they said I was pretty young, but, ah, as far as we weren’t supposed to say anything, never talked at the table; it was just for the elders and they would talk, I’m sure. But remember, I was brought up practically alone. I was alone until my cousin was born three years later, so she was three years younger then I was, but we had no… I don’t recollect ever any conversation in the house whatsoever; just play between the kids… there was just the two of us… and outdoors. But there was no contact with the older people at all.
And, of course those were hard days. I do remember a little later on, every Saturday night that we would gather, either across the street or in an adjacent house and old folks would play cards; and we never played cards, not when I was young. They did, but I guess we just played games or whatever we had… I don’t know, I don’t recall. But, later on, when I was 12 or 13 we were included in the card games. But that was the sole entertainment that was there. There was no other entertainment. There was no radio in those days; and I’m sure, once I was able to read I probably read several books; but when I was younger my whole life was outdoor life, and all we talked about was Cowboys and Indians, all us kids… that’s the only game we knew… and Robin Hood, or something like that. And I remember that we used to have sides; and we would dig big holes. We used to have a lot of snow in those days, probably a not now so much… we haven’t had much snow for a long time… but we would have snow banks, oh, 10 or 15 feet high all right… no question about that. And we would dig out caves in the snow banks; and I remember my a.m. to asking a woman what they were doing, and she said they were playing Robinhood; and she said, “ was Robinhood that crazy? A new” or something to that affect. Course, my aunt, they had no education in English whatsoever. In their own language was all the French; so I doubt very much they ever heard of Robinhood!… Because days were simpler then, days were simpler. You went to bed, eight born 9:00 was the limit on Saturday night. During the week seven or a to a clock, we were all in bed–nothing else to do! Nothing else to do!
Well, like I said, we very, there he seldom were in the house. And I was about four or five years old; and we live to in this little neighborhood and, ugh, there was a dirt road, and,ugh, there were people who smoked in those days and they would throw the cigarette butts on the side of the road. I remember that I picked up this cigarette butts and put them in my mouth andSoap and it’s not only the minute day we kill his on Hanley and thinking and I guess obviously if I see if I used amounts to move the microphone it will phone it won’t alone off but if it uses plus she does so where business in an ad of banks of feet of our mobile and microphones about I remember one day my uncle gave me the devil. He said, “don’t you do that anymore, those are dirty.” But I was older than and he said, “if you want cigarette’s,” he said, “then come into the house and I’ve got something better than that,” and she said, “come into the house and I’ll show you.” So went into the house and he said, “that shelf up their, that’s got cigars. Help yourself anytime you want a cigar… you just help yourself.” So I thought that was quite a thing. I had a friend of mine and we both decided we were going to have cigars this special day. We both to two or three cigars, we went up on a high hill, and ugh , we smoked cigars. And that was the end of my smoking. We became awfully sick; never touched us cigar after that, or a cigarette. I a remember bags. I was younger than, I was probably eight years old, and we used to roll dry leaves and paper and, and somehow I got matches… we had no cigarette lighters… and we would smoke like that. I suppose we thought we were big, and you know. And this particular day, I was all alone, and a spark caught onto the burlap bag, so I ran out as fast as I could and I went into the house. It wasn’t long before one of the neighbors told my aunt there was an awful fire at my camp. So, my aunt, she thought that the sun set and rose on my body, I guess end she said, “all my gosh, those kids next door of, there are always getting into trouble.” So years later, I told her that it was me that started the fire, smoking dry leaves! So, some of these things they stay by you.
And another time, I was about five years old… like I said, I was alone practically,’ cause Alice was 2 then… and I was rocking on a porch. We had an old porch there, and a fellow came by with a… I don’t know what they call it now … the he had a “Handy-Andy”; he had a monkey and an accordion and he’d go from house to house to play for people. And I was scared, so I started crying so my aunt told the guy with the monkey, “you keep your monkey over their on your wagon, don’t let it, over here.” And, ugh, well, Ill probably think of others as I go along.
I do remember, of course, they used to roll the roads in those days… they had no plows. So after they’ve rolled the roads, well, we had our sled and and the and end we would slide down the road. I do remember one incident, and I think I was five or six years old. And we used to play on this little river, and remember cutting the ice around me in remember going under. And it went probably from here to that chair, probably six or eight feet, and avoid pulled me out, and that was a close shave; and, of course, I got out. I was soaking wet and a ran to my house and my aunt changed my clothes and everything. But that was my first close shave with death. I’ve had many since then, but that was my first.
When at was six years old then, and of course, I started going to school and we had to walk about a mile each way. I only spoke French then and end in our neighborhood the kids only spoke French. Oh, just like it was another country. There was no English whatsoever because all our parents came from Canada and a new only French. And there was no reason for them to know English. This was in Gorham, New Hampshire. Like they said, I left here at 11 months. And in those days Pinkham Notch was not where it is now, you know Pinkham Notch, going to Berlin? It used to be much higher, and my uncle used to come and get me after I was about ten years old. I mean my father and he would take me to Conway, here, for a week or a week in a half, leg vacation for me, then he’d take me home. In an it was in all-day ride to go from here to in Gorham in those days. The cars, well, they weren’t very fast minute and they would boil EZ and they would boil easy. I remember that you always had to carry a pail to put water in the radiator and, ah well, that’s the way it was.
There was nothing really that was passed on that I can remember. I mean, a suppose there was no question about it, that when I was six or seven years, we were innocent anyway. We knew nothing about the world. We didn’t care to, in fact. A kid is a kid.
(Interjection from his wife Helen who was sitting at his side during the interview:) You could say that your aunt always made sure you went to church.
Treffel: 0h, yeah.
Helen: So that’s a good value I should think.
Treffel and: Oh, yes… oh yes, that’s right. Well, the French-Canadians were very strong and
Catholics; and so every Catholic holiday we attended. End when I got older and, had first communion, and we were taught the commandments, and we were taught to do the right thing according to the Bible, he now; and that’s all there was.