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becoming an American

Becoming an American—Why Not?

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.

Memoir Writing

Joseph Verreault

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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Point of View in a Memoir

The Wrong Point of View in a Memoir Can Throw the Story

In 1996 and 1997, I composed about 200 pages of a memoir of my high school years and then it wasn’t going anywhere more than where it had been—mired in facts and details with no spirit. What I didn’t know was it had a wrong point of view problem

I merely stored it in various computers for years.

In the fall of 2013, I completed my mother’s memoir (We Were Not Spoiled). Because I was looking for a writing project I might devote myself to next, I picked up the high-school memoir again.

(Lest you think that I went to a high school like yours, let me assure you that I did not. I attended a Catholic high-school seminary. No, I’m not writing about sexual shenanigans—there was none of that whatsoever. I am writing about my life there between 1960 and 1964 and how it shaped me. This theme of identity is usual stuff for a memoir, but the setting is exotic in many ways and not at all usual. Almost none of you who are reading this have “been there”—trust me.)

Suddenly, after more than a decade and a half, the memoir spoke to me again!

“Write me! Write me!” it shouted. The text seemed “alive” again. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Lachine Massacre

Franco-American History and The Lachine Massacre

The following post on the Lachine Massacre, drawn from my work in progress Here to Stay, a history of my 17th-century Canadian ancestors, has been republished on a racist, race-baiting site. I have asked them to take it down, but they have not done so.

I did not give them permission to use the post to attack Native Peoples. I do not endorse nor condone the racist tone of the site and do not give permission to any racist site to reprint our articles.

This post was intended to be a piece of history – and in no way a derogatory comment on the Iroquois. Both sides had their share of cruelty and savagery.

While the Iroquois attack was brutal and devastating, I have written the same about my ancestors’ attacks on the English in New England: Deerfield, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine.  These are just two sites that were savagely attacked by the French and their Algonquin allies. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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The Pacific Theater

Crossing the Pacific to Reach the World War 2 Theater

This excerpt is from Business Boy to Business Man the memoir of Robert Verreault as told to Denis Ledoux. The memoir was published in 2013.

The military would never tell servicemen where we were going during World War 2, but it was a fairly easy bet that we were headed for Hawaii as a first leg to the Japanese front. The night before we were to board our ship, I had supper in San Francisco with the girlfriend of one of my friends. It would be the last time in a long while that I would have a home-cooked meal.

In the morning, my buddy and I headed out to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard where the ship we were to head out on had undergone some repairs. Like many other ships used by the Americans, this one was a foreign ship that had been more or less stranded far from its homeland and was now helping in the anti-Axis war effort. We were to board it at the yard and begin our trip from there. We reported in and then, hoisting our duffle bags onto our shoulders, took our place to board. There was a long line of men, thousands of men. The line moved slowly, the duffle bags grew heavy. It seemed that when finally we put them down to rest, the line moved again and we’d lug the bags once more. Eventually, we reached a narrow gangplank and walked up it to the ship’s deck. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Marriage in New France: Barthélémi and Marthe Wed

As was the custom in the colony, the wedding was set for a date soon after the contract signing. These were exceptional times. Winter was just three months away, and if Barthélémi and Marthe were to survive the long, cold months at the new farm in Chateau-Richer, there was much to be done. Until she […]

write your memoir

Another Bucksport Story—An Ice Holiday

One morning, when the sun promised to be bright and the sky clear, as we sat down to breakfast at refectory tables, on a day that seemed to be a day just like every other day in January, Father Guy would announce, “Aujourd’hui, c’est un congé de glace [Today, we are having an ice holiday].”

House where Marie Bilodeau was born Bilodeau

After 50 Years

I was one of those fortunate children to have known well both sets of grandparents. My Ledoux grandparents lived upstairs for most of my growing up while by Verreault grandparents lived 10 miles away. (My children did not know their grandfathers and my grandchildren do not know their grandmothers.) My grandmother Marie Bilodeau Ledoux was […]

Point of View in a Memoir

Feedback on “Collect Memories at My Fiftieth Class Reunion”

Collect memories at my fiftieth class reunion

Last weekend—and a warm sunny three days it turned out to be—I spent, as I had written that I would in the last newsletter, with those of my high school classmates who could attend our fiftieth high-school reunion. Some of us had not seen each other in 30 years—not since our 20th class reunion—while one had not been with us in 50 years. Needless to say…

We had changed. The skinny boys we had been had become older white-haired men—except for on man who was mysteriously still dark-haired. Through the wrinkles and the few extra pounds (we were actually quite a fit group), it was uncanny how it seemed to me we had kept some essence of identity intact. The boys I had spent so many years with were there once again with me. I recognize the boys I had known transformed into thoughtful and kind men that I felt so much affection for. We spoke about our years in the seminary high school, our now-grown-up children, our life’s work which had occupied the middle decades of our lives, our goals and aspirations for the years that remained. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Point of View in a Memoir

Collecting Memories at My Class Reunion

This weekend of September 26-28, 2014, I am reuniting with my high school classmates. We have not seen each other in 30 years—not since our 20th class reunion. Back then, we developed an intimacy and an affection for each other that someone attending a regular high school cannot have experienced with classmates they saw for […]