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Visiting My Parents’ Home Town, Thetford

The following is an excerpt from We Were Not Spoiledby Lucille Ledoux as told to Denis Ledoux.

There were men in Lewiston who drove people to Canada and back. (They must have set schedules just like the trains, and people must have committed to specific dates.) Anyway, in the summer of 1937, I went to Thetford with a Mr. Nadeau who charged $5 each way. My aunt Gabrielle, who was only two years older than I, was with me on the way up, so she must have come down to Lewiston for a while and then we returned together.

Perreault Girls

The Perreault Girls

It was my first time visiting Thetford since I was three. I did not remember anything from the first trip except being so pleased to sleep at my Lessard grandparents’ house. In my growing up, I had not had the luxury of staying over at a grandparents’ place as many other kids in Lewiston had. Now at 16, I was sleeping night after night in their home. I had grandparents in my life! I also had many relatives nearby, family from both sides.

My grandparents’ marriage was a difficult one. My grandfather, Odias Lessard, was an alcoholic and he was often drunk. This made it difficult to maintain a stable family life and caused a drain on the family finances. My grandmother, Virginie Bizier Lessard, was a pleasant, but serious, woman. She was not given to laughter and to seeing the lighter side of things. Her marriage had made her very serious about life, but I also think that was her nature. She was so much like my mother that being at her house was like being at home. My grandmother and my mother cooked the same sorts of foods, in the same way. When I ate at other relatives, I found the same comforting familiarity. One thing that was different though was my grandmother’s pies had minimal filling—they seemed to be all crust.

Lucille Verreault Ledoux

Lucille Verreault Ledoux,
c. 17 years old

My grandmother and my mother also kept house in the same way. They even looked a lot alike: both had round faces. My grandmother, however, had long, dark hair which, even twenty years later when she passed away, had not turned gray. She wore it combed back somewhat severely and tied in a bun just above her neck. My own mother wore her hair in short curls, which was the style of her generation and, even then in 1937 when she was 39, was graying.

A special joy of that trip was visiting with my aunt Blanche who had lived with us on Shawmut Street in Lewiston when she was a hairdresser. When she had gone back to Thetford, she had opened a beauty shop in one of the front rooms of her parent’s house. She had met Adrien Perreault, and they were married. After that, she closed her shop. Uncle Adrien and she bought a house two or three houses down from my Lessard grandparents and that summer they had a little girl they named Louise. Ma Tante Blanche immediately became pregnant with her second child, who would be called Muriel. I loved to see my aunt happy in her own home.[1]

 


[1]Both houses are still lived in by family members. My grandparents’ house is now owned by my cousin Jocelyne Lessard, Henri-Louis’ daughter, and Aunt Blanche’s house is owned by her son, Renaud Perreault.

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