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Life During The War

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

Life during the war went on as usual, in some ways. I enjoyed working at Benoit’s Clothing Store. I liked dressing up to go to work. We were always meeting the public and we had to look good. Our dresses had to be just right and our hair done. I used to go to a hairdresser on Lincoln Street whose shop was on the second floor of a building her family owned. She lived downstairs with her parents, who had made the second floor available to her for use as a beauty shop. Today, people would say you have to have a shop on the first floor.

Most days, I would take the bus back for lunch, which my mother prepared. The trip up took ten minutes and the bus left me right in front of our house. I’d eat for a half hour. Then, I’d pick the bus up in front, and the trip back took minutes.

After having had twelve children, my mother did not have any more. Paul was still very young—four in 1943—and Roger was six. My mother was quite busy. During this time, certainly by 1943, she was not doing too well, but we didn’t think much of it. We continued to think of her as a strong woman.

That year, as the war was going on, I had a normal life. I served as president of les Enfants de Marie and met with other young women to prepare events to support Holy Family Church and its ministry. I also remember planting dahlias around the house. It was like planting little potatoes and getting beautiful flowers. In the fall, you had to dig them up and save them for the next season. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed doing it.

Many workplaces offered the option of having money taken from your pay to buy war bonds. The money was used by the US government to finance the war. I decided to join the effort and had money taken out regularly from my Benoit’s pay. It was a patriotic thing to do and, since Albert and many other young men I knew were in the war, I felt I was doing something to support them. It was also a way of saving money because the bonds were supposed to be redeemable with some interest after the war was over.

By then, I had definitely begun to think that I might marry Albert. Because the war was going on, these were not easy years to be thinking of getting married. Not just being married but what happened after you married—starting a family and raising children. Every week, we read in the English and the French newspapers that some young man had been killed, leaving a widow who was pregnant or a widow with children. That would be hard on the woman and hard on the children. All that year, Albert was in Keesler Army Air Force Base. He had gone through Mississippi’s easy winter and then through its hot humid summer. He was slated to graduate from the program in December 1943. We knew nothing beyond that.

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