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memories of my grandfther

Memories of My Grandfather

My grandfather William Ledoux would be 133 years old were he alive today. I would like to take a moment to honor his life by sharing some memories of my grandfather.

His early years

He was born in Lachine, Québec, on February 17, 1889, the oldest of what would be a family of six children. His mother was 20 and his father 19 at the time of his birth. The family moved from Lachine, then a small town, to Montréal when he was quite young. He grew up in Montréal in an apartment on Papineau Street. Papineau is a major artery today, but in those horse-and-buggy days, it must have been quieter. Two brothers and three sisters followed him in the next 11 years.

My great-grandfather Georges was a blacksmith in those days when there was a big need for blacksmiths. He was however in the last decades of this work as soon the automobile would be coming to replace the horse.

Healing a child

An interesting story about my grandfather’s family was how, in those days, women from the Kahnawake Iroquois reservation on the south shore of the St Lawrence would come to Montréal where they would seek temporary jobs with the women who lived in the apartments. My great-grandmother, a housewife supported by a blacksmith husband, was by no means a wealthy woman. The Indians were even less so. They would come looking for jobs like doing laundry, washing the floor, cleaning out a room.
One day, my great-grandmother Aurélie, had a sick baby on her hands when somebody knocked at the door. My grandmother went to the door to see who it could be. It was an Indian woman seeking employment. My grandmother said, “Oh, I just can’t talk to you now. I have a sick baby. He has just had a convulsion.”

The Iroquois woman asked, “Does madame have any onions?”

My great-grandmother said, “Yes, I do.”

The stranger replied, “Madame, I know what to do for your baby.” The woman entered the apartment and she and my grandmother took some onions and cut them into little pieces and they lay them on the mattress of the bed where they then placed a sheet. They put the child on the sheet. The story has it that the child got better and never had convulsions again.

My own healing

Later on, when I was a baby myself in 1947-1948, I had convulsions. My grandmother who had the story many times from her husband said to my mother, “You have got to place Denis on a bed of onions.”

My mother, being more modern than my grandmother, resisted but, after yet another convulsion, she felt rather desperate to have some remedy to my situation so she said, “Okay let’s do that.”
She and my grandmother sat down and prepared a bag of onions. They lay me on that bag of onions and that was the last time I had convulsions.

Coming Down to the US

In time, my great-grandparents decided that they could not continue their life in Montréal. My great-grandfather had an uncle who lived in New Bedford or Fall River, Massachusetts. This man told my great-grandfather Georges that if he and his family come down to the United States, he would help him to get settled with his family. My great-grandfather decided to take his uncle up on this kind offer and he made his way down to Fall River around 1900.

In Fall River, there were many Canadian immigrants. My great-grandfather spent a decade as a blacksmith but, as time went on, blacksmithing became less and less of a viable occupation. decided to become a mechanic. As a blacksmith, my great-grandfather Georges had many hands-on skills and he decided to become an automobile mechanic. (Many blacksmiths became mechanics.) He had a garage which a cousin of my father told me was the last building on the old road to New Bedford. I have never seen this building but one day I will go down and check it out. My father’s cousin said it was no longer a garage, but when you look at it, you could tell that it had once been a garage.

That is how my grandfather came down to live in the US. My grandparents met on a blind date and were married in 1912. They had five children. I have more memories of my grandfather (and grandmother) elsewhere on this site

My grandfather died on December 23rd 1972. He was a wonderful grandfather and I feel very fortunate to have known him. I have written these memories of my grandfather for family and for you, dear reader. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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ancestors in New Frnce

Meeting My Ancestors in New France

DL: This is an excerpt from Here to Stay an account of the lives of my seventeenth-century ancestors in New France. Everything in the book is factual or a reasonable surmise (and referenced as such).

___

This book is not a history of New France. It is about some of my ancestors who came here to stay. I have provided the story of New France only for the light it casts on my people, and so I have left out large portions of that history.

This book about my ancestors in New France could have begun in 1604 with Louis Hébert, my very first ancestor in North America, but I chose to begin with my ancestors in New France who bore names that I have known all my life—my father’s and my mother’s patronyms. It begins therefore in 1662—eleven rather than thirteen generations ago—when Barthélémy Verreault arrives. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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develop the setting

Develop the Setting: the Somewhere of Your Story

Writers seem to grasp that every memoir needs well-developed characters and actions, but the same is always not true when they are asked to develop the setting of their memoir.

Develop the Setting

The term “setting” is generally understood to refer to the physical “where” in which your memoir takes place. This can be a city or a rural neighborhood, a state or province, a country. This sense of setting includes a house and a room and a street. If your pen were a movie camera, the setting would be what your camera would eventually project onto the screen.

In this first sense, setting is a physical and tangible element. Even when the physical setting no longer exists, your obligation as a memoirist is to reproduce it in your pages as if it were still there. The reader feels as if s/he were in the midst of the world that once was.

The memoir setting includes both where and when your story occurs.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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self-publish a memoir

9 Tips for Self-Publishing a Memoir

Can you master these 9 for self-publishing a memoir? If so, you are on your way to succeeding.

1) Do you want to reach a larger audience than family and friends when self-publishing a memoir? If so, a “real book” will be necessary. For some books that are destined to reach a handful of relatives and friends, a simple binding such as a three-ring binder or other store-bought binding will be adequate. But, for a more widely distributed book, a professional binding is absolutely required. The prices are very affordable via print-on-demand printers. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Down to Basics: Vignettes, Scenes, and Dialogues

Down to Basics: Vignettes, Scenes, and Dialogs

Basic units of memoir writing

Vignettes, scenes, and dialogs are at the core of any memoir. Here are some ideas for writing them more quickly and elegantly.

1. Don’t worry about order.

Don’t stop to figure out how these snippets—vignettes, scenes, and dialogs—may eventually fit together into a story.

These bits and pieces will accumulate as you recall more and more and continue to write them down. Giving yourself permission to write in small, separate segments (vignettes, scenes, and dialogs, etc.) is a great way to start writing. Because there will always be your memory list of things to write about, you will never experience “writer’s block!” Fitting these pieces together to craft a polished story will come later, in the rewriting stage. Right now, it’s important to get text—any text—down on paper. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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history and memoir writing

History And Memoir Writing

I live in the area (Lewiston, Maine) where my great-grandparents, my grandparents and parents—and now me—spent their lives, and I am also an amateur historian of this region. When I was asked to speak at a library lunchtime program several years ago about history and memoir writing, I chose as my topic : “Lewiston’s Buildings Tell Our Stories.” The following is a brief overview of what I shared with my audience—which now includes become you!

Exploring History and Memoir Writing

This was an industrial city in the 19th century with a Protestant Anglo-American ruling/mill ownership class and an underclass of Catholic Franco-Canadian-American and Irish-American mill workers. I asked the library audience if they had noticed how the older funeral homes in town were in large, distinguished houses. Of course, they had, but most people had not asked themselves what was the history of these homes was. What did homes of such stature on the edges of the tenement district imply/signify? [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Keep writing on your memoir

Three Tips That Will Keep You Writing

Recently, someone asked me what are the biggest barriers memoir writers face to being successful. Three tips that will keep you writing came to mind right away. Below, I write about them and offer suggestions for eliminating these barriers.

1. Writers often put off writing a good memoir in favor of struggling unsuccessfully to create a perfect one. This is insidious because no one says they are putting off writing a good memoir in favor of a perfect one. Instead they say, “I want my story to be meaningful” or “I want to be sure I have something to say” or “I don’t want to bore my readers.”

No one wants a boring memoir or a meaningless one. Most writers I’ve worked with do have it in them to turn out a memoir that can appeal to its audience. It may not be a perfect memoir but it can be a good one. Keep in mind that perfect is the enemy of good. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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better dialog

10 Tips to Write Better Dialog—Make it More Effective and Interesting

If dialog is an essential part of every memoir—and of course it is, then why not make it effective—make it say what needs to be said—and interesting—so that it also keeps the reader reading. Write better dialog.

Dialog performs several functions that make your story appealing and meaningful.

Every memoir ought to have some dialog so why not write better dialog.

I am going to start off with offering you some reasons for including dialog in your memoir—to shore up my insisting every memoir ought to include dialog.

Reason #1. Dialog allows the reader to hear the character speak for himself or herself.

For instance, if your character was a person who was frequently on the defense about his behavior, you could quote him saying:”

  • “I know it didn’t look good,” my uncle Victor replied in his timid voice, “but it wasn’t me who did it.”

Reason #2. Dialog is an opportunity to use regionalisms and particularities of speech that distinguish your characters and portray them to your readers.

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work with and through pain

Work With or Through Pain: Writing Painful Memories

In this video, Work With or Through Pain: Writing Through Painful Memories, I talk about writing through painful memories. Pain is often a barrier to memoir writing. Who wants to revisit difficult times? Although delving into the past is a generally pleasant experience and promotes healing and growth, it can also be painful.