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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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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].”

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 […]

Ledoux Wedding, September 4, 1944

Our World War 2 Wedding in Maine

We Prepare for Our World War 2 Wedding

On Saturday evening, Mr. and Mrs. Ledoux threw us a pre-nuptial party at their home. I had known them for a long time already so they were not strangers to me. Our friends and relatives dropped by to wish us well. Mrs. Ledoux had prepared finger foods and served soft drinks and beer. I supposed Rhéa [Lavigne, Albert’s sister] had helped her.

Sunday called for all the food to be ready as well as for my suitcase to be packed and ready for our trip to Syracuse, NY, the next day after the wedding ceremony because Albert would have to report to base Monday night. That trip would be the only honeymoon we would have because we were having a World War 2 wedding! [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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marching drill teams were popular in Franco-American New England

I Join a Marching Drill Team

In Franco-American New England, marching drill teams were popular. These teams were made up of girls who played instruments and marched in formation. Rhéa Ledoux was a team captain and she got to march in front of the other girls. The various drill teams would prepare elaborate sequences which they performed in parades—often in competition […]

My mother's book has found its audience.

My Father Loved to Tell a Story

My father loved to tell a story. He would sit three or four of us on his lap and ask us what kind of story we wanted to hear. “Perhaps un petit rien tout nu (a little naked nothing)?” he’d suggest. Not knowing what that was, we would nod our heads eagerly. “Do you want […]

Point of View in a Memoir

My First Morning Away

The is an excerpt from a yet-unnamed memoir of my high school years spent in a seminary continues to chronicle my first days there. The school is in Bucksport Maine, and the year is 1960. In this vignette, I write about my first morning. The memoir is in progress.

At 5:45, it was still dark outside, night really. Except for an occasional mumble, the regular breathing of boys in deep sleep was the only noise punctuating the quiet of the dormitory. Perhaps we were all back home in our dreams, with our families once again.

Suddenly—Brrr!

The “bell”— an electric ringer really,  resounded loud and insistent in the silence.

Laus tibi, Christe,” shouted the head Fourth-Form admonitor from his bed in the center of the dorm.
Only from the deep-voices of the other two admonitors at the opposite ends of the room was there an answering “Deo gratias!”<!–more–> [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Point of View in a Memoir

Discovering My New Home

This is an excerpt from a memoir I am thinking of calling either In Another Century or A Very Catholic Boy. I am 13, and in the previous excerpt, I have just arrived at the seminary high school where I will be living. The excerpt starts as I have brought my trunk up to the […]