My Mother’s Stories is a category composed of short excerpts of a longer memoir, We Were Not Spoiled, written by me, Denis Ledoux, as told to me by my mother, Lucille Verreault Ledoux.
We two began collaborating in 2008 when my mother was still in her apartment which was about 60 miles away in Biddeford, Maine, from where I live in Lisbon Falls. On visits to her, I introduced the subject of collecting her memories into a memoir.
At first, she commented, “Who will want to read my stories? What’s the point of writing them?”
“Well, right away, I can point to your family. We are interested in knowing more about you.”
She was not convinced.
Priming the pump of memory
To get the pump of memory for my mother’s stories going, I primed it by writing the stories I already knew. On a next visit, I would read these to her, and she corrected me on this or that point in my account. In that way, she got used to the idea of seeing her stories written and hearing them spoken to her.
Then, later, she began to contribute actively to the stories by thinking about them in between times, and when I visited, she would share a new story. As my mother’s stories added up, I would ask her for linking (or transition) details.
In this way, my mother’s stories came to be.
A Representative Franco-American woman
One of my goals was to write a story of a Franco “every woman” of the first half of the twentieth century.
Eventually my mother went into an assisted living facility. I was then that we finished collecting the stories.
After these stories of Franco-American life were published as a memoir, We Were Not Spoiled, in late 2013, she would sell books to visitors. Periodically, she would call me to say she needed more books.
DL— Stories about immigration and citizenship form the backbone of our great American story as much today as in past times. My ancestors were among the millions who came here in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Here is an excerpt about becoming an American from We Were Not Spoiled, the memoir of my mother Lucille Verreault Ledoux as told to me. For many more excerpts of my mother’s life, click here.
My father had not come to the US to stay, but that’s what happened. After working here for a number of years first to support himself and then his growing family and eventually buying an apartment building that was his family’s home, it must have seemed obvious to him that this is where he would spend the rest of his life. So, why not give in to becoming an American citizen? Thinking this way, he was able to make the decision be an easy one. He was a practical man with a lot of responsibilities.
Becoming An American
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On this blog, I have frequently offered excerpts of my mother’s memoir, We Were Not Spoiled. It has been such a satisfaction for me to have written her story and to have been able to hand her a copy. One day, after I had presented her with the hard copy of We Were Not Spoiled, […]
Not too long after I was born, my uncle Pitou Lessard (his name was really Lionel) undertook his own migration to the US from Canada, looking for work. Of course, he moved in with us. Today, people would say the apartment on Howe Street in Lewiston was too small to take in another adult, but […]
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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.
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DL—The following excerpt is from We Were Not Spoiled, the Franco-American Memoir of Lucille Verreault Ledoux as told to Denis Ledoux. My Father Learns About April Fool’s Day Moving to Howe Street also meant that I lost my friends on Jefferson Street. I could still get together with Juliette and Jeannine at school but they […]
In February of 1944, Albert was given a seventeen-day furlough and, during that time, we became engaged to marry. We did not set a date, but we talked of a wedding…
From We Were Not Spoiled, the memoir of Lucille Verreault Ledoux as told to Denis Ledoux. My mother-in-law had a lovely black Persian lamb coat. It had large buttons that were very fashionable at the time. That coat was heavy and warm, and Mrs. Ledoux wore it everywhere. She looked good in it. Rhéa had a raccoon coat […]