This website is under constant construction.
It has been awhile since I have updated and much has happened in the family in the past few years.
You will notice that this is a revised website with added news, photos.
As our website grows, keep visiting to learn more about our growing family.
We hope that everyone will enjoy keeping up to date with us!
July 15, 2015
Memorial plaque in honor of
The 30th Infantry, 119th division
December 1944, for regaining control of
Saint Edouard Sanitorium & therefore
saving the people of Stoumont, Belgium
and future generations.
In Memory of my father Alfred Richer the town of
Stoumont gave the flowers & Honorary Citizenship
to my sister Sue who visited Belgium in 2012.
Jacqueline Marie Richer St Hilaire
Born May 23, 1942
The following are my words of remembrance, I wish I had more details for some of the years but I leave you small stirrings from the heart.
I write more for myself than for you, it is time for healing and by looking backwards one can move forward.
Insights & thoughts from “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand 1957
What is the worst sin in life? Is it life without a purpose?
Whether I wake up in the morning with a purpose or for no reason, can make all the difference in my day and in the day of other’s that I will encounter.
I may get up with one purpose or many. I could be anticipating cleaning the bathroom, ugh! or getting to an appointment. One could be a doctor who has heart surgery to perform or a mother who brings her children to school.
No matter the reason (purpose) I have a need or someone I know needs me. It doesn’t matter which way it goes, only that I have a purpose in my day and this, I have to do everyday. It is no small feat. To find my song, to listen to my own drummer.
Trouble erupts when I start comparing my purpose with someone else’s purpose in life. This is where many emotions come into play, like jealousy. There are many stories in the Bible that give meaning to this dilemma, from the beginning of time.
This starts early in life and psychologist tell us that most of our attitudes are formed in the first two years of our lives. So, as adults we have much work to accomplish in this area. There are no two ways about it, the work has to be done or I will keep on doing injustices to myself and to those I love.
September 1, 1941
Rita Simone Marineau
Alfred Omer Richer
I was the first born in 1942 of 8 children in Manchester, NH . I was on top of the heap, for awhile. I was also the first grandchild on my mother’s side of the family and lived in an apartment on the third floor of my grandparents. Marie and Alfred Marineau lived on the first floor.
I also had much attention from my mother’s two sisters & brother. Madeleine, Florence & Bernard. My mother, Rita was the oldest. All gave me much love, I was not deprived. My grandmother Marie was 30 when she got married and at 31 she had my mother Rita.
My grandmother Marie Girard Marineau, was born in the county of Levi in Canada. She started working at the Amoskeag Mills in Manchester, NH, when she was 10 years old. This means that she worked there for 20 years. She had a nice nest egg when she got married, enough to buy a new bedroom set.
In the early 1800's, the "Mill Girl Experiment" sought to entice farm girls to come into the cities; with promises of steady employment, unheard-of wages, structured living, and moral guidance. Many young women did accept the offer, and the woolen mills provided what they had promised. What hadn't been stipulated formed a balance: long hours, dangerous machinery, poisonous air, and unbearable noise levels. This, and the worldly influence of the urban settings which inevitably changed their mannerisms and outlooks, and distanced them from their families and their provenance. The owners of the mills were often demonized for usurping and exploiting their female employees; oratory from pulpits described a slippery slope for the once-scrupulous ladies. In retrospect, they played a crucial role in blending the disparate populations of agricultural and industrial districts, necessary to form a strong, cohesive nation. When the 'experiment' waned, they were each replaced by a newly arrived european immigrant, and the cycle began again.
My grandfather Alfred was a carpenter, who was born in Ste. Etienne, Canada. During the 1930's he had a business partner by the name of Provencher. In the late 1930's when the business went bankrupt my grandfather suffered a nervous breakdown. My maternal grandparents were communicants of Ste. Marie Parish.
I grew up in a very good environment, I was happy and a joy to have around (I have been told). Both my parents Rita & Alfred were raised Roman Catholic. On their wedding day they were both past their 21st birthday.
My father Alfred, had done all his high school education in Canada. Alfred completed his studies at Barreau-St Charles-Borromee Seminary in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
In 1939 Alfred entered Saint Bonaventure University in New York and after the first semester he returned home. He did not however, go straight home, he was afraid to confront his parents (Edouard & Evangeline), especially his mother. He first spent some time with his older brother Emile.
When Alfred returned from seminary, he decided to be a banker but he needed more schooling. He went to a business school at night and worked as a meat cutter doing the day. Realizing that he would make a more substantial living working as a meat cutter, he quit college.
History certainly repeats itself, because I also entered business college and left after the 1st semester, I found it very boring. I found a good job working for a dentist. My daughter Donna did the same thing, found a good job and was trained on sight, she now is a business manager for a Catholic school. All 3 of us father, daughter and grand daughter graduated from high school, went to business school and left after the first semester. Well, my father Alred actually did this 2 times.
Another co-incidence, my father Alfred, my step-father Marcel & my husband Dick all were meat cutters.
My father, Alfred had 4 sisters and 3 brothers. Marguerite, Helene, Irene and Germaine. Emile, Hector and Maurice. Germaine the only surviving sibling is now 93 years old, a Sister of the Missionary of Africa, living in Winooski, Vermont. Alfred's mother Evangeline was 17 when she married my grandfather Edouard. She was a homemaker and seamstress and Pepere worked in the shoe shops in Manchester. They were a very devout family and also communicants of Ste. Marie Church.
In 2006 I interviewed my Uncle Hector and he told me that when my great-grandmother died at the young age of 47, Evangeline took over her mother-in-law's duties as well as her own. Living in a large tenement on Cartier Street, the two families interacted together, grew in love for one another.
Seated left to right Germaine-Edouard-Maurice-Evangeline-Irene
Standing left to right Helene-Emile-Alfred-Hector-Marguerite
Holy Angels High School 1939.
Later changed to Ste. Marie High School. When my parents met, Rita was working as a cashier at Hamel’s market owned by her uncle and Godfather, Omer Hamel & Godmother Corinne Girard Hamel, sister to Marie. Alfred was a meat cutter at Provost’s market, also owned by an uncle on my grandmother Marineau’s side Carmelia Girard Provost, sister to Marie.
For a more detail account of my Mom's life please go to the "Welcome" page & scroll down to "Rita's Legacy".
Modern Theater-Gosselin Pharmacy
Now McGregor Street
The lower area of Notre Dame, immediately west of present-day downtown Manchester, was originally known as McGregorville, after the McGregor family that built the first bridge in the city in 1792. The area later grew into a dense neighborhood called the Flat Iron District beneath Rimmon Heights and adjacent to the western side of the Amoskeag millyard
I was two years old when my father was sent to Europe during WWII. He had been drafted and went into the Army. This was in July of 1944. My mother was pregnant and due in January 1945.
Kissing my father goodbye. July 1943
My father fought many battles and received many awards. He died in Stoumont, Belgium in the early morning hours on December 21, 1944. During the infamous "Battle of the Bulge". He did not die in vain, he was part of the 30th Infantry 119th Regiment Company “C”(Charlie), who rescued 250 civilians, which included children, nuns and priests at the Saint Edouard Sanatorium. The Sanatorium was their first mission as they entered the town of Stoumont, for in recovering from the Germans the Sanatorium for the people, meant saving the town. Stoumont has dedicated their town to the 30th Infantry.
There is a museum in Stoumont called "December 1944".
The St Edouard Sanatorium dominates the hillside above the small Ardennes village of Stoumont. It was built as a refuge for the elderly, orphans and the infirm. For a few terrible days in December 1944, the 250 residents
crammed into the cellars as a ferocious battle ebbed and flowed above their heads. Possession of the Sanatorium meant control of Stoumont - a village that Kampfgruppe Peiper could not afford to lose.
The Ardennes Offensive had begun just before dawn on December 16th 1944. Kampfgruppe Peiper was the most powerful formation in Germany’s finest Panzer Division – 1SS Panzer Division (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler). Tasked
with breaking through to the Meuse and beyond, Peiper had shown ruthlessness, audacity and determination as his column penetrated over 50 miles through American lines in just 3 days. However, Stoumont proved to be the high-water mark. A couple of miles west of the town, his troops encountered one road-block too many.The American 30th Infantry Division had been rushed down from the Aachen sector and was helping to close the net
around Peiper. However, to the north, the lackluster performance of the 12th and 277th VG Divisions had required the additional commitment of the 12SS Panzer Division (Hitlerjugend) and left Peiper dangerously exposed. Fifteen
miles to the east, a strong attack by elements of the 30th Infantry Division threatened Stavelot, underlining just how precarious his situation was. His request to withdraw from the Stoumont area towards the rest of the Division was denied; he was ordered to stand fast and await relief. At this stage, the American forces were concentrated to the north and west of Stoumont. It was clear to all that control of the Sanatorium was the key to the possession of the village. An American probe from the north, by TF Jordan (3rd Armored Division), had already been repulsed. The soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 119th Infantry Regiment belatedly received some armour support and prepared to make their move. The defenders of Stoumont scanned the woods to the north and west for signs of the next attack. The Sanatorium had to be held.
The actual events represented in this scenario took place at dusk and into darkness. After the failed move by TF Jordan, the next move by the Americans came from the west. The first assault did manage to seize control of the Sanatorium but a fierce counter-attack soon re-established the German positions. For two more days the battle raged around the Sanatorium. Peiper’s men held fast. Miraculously, all of the civilians sheltering in the basement survived the battle. Ultimately, it was the loss of Stavelot that sealed his fate. KG Peiper was cut off; the defenders of Stoumont, Cheneux and La Gleize had to abandon all vehicles & heavy weapons and set out on foot. On Christmas Eve, Peiper led 800 men out of La Gleize into the hills. Amazingly 770 were present at roll call 36 hours later, once the safety of 9SS Hohenstaufen’s positions at Wanne had been reached.
In going through the history of the war in Europe, Stoumont had first been taken from the Germans only to be re-captured. At this time many American soldiers believed the war to be over & that soon they would be returning to the United States, hopefully for Christmas. But the Germans re-captured Stoumont by once again regaining control of The Saint-Edouard Sanitorium. If my grandparents would have been given the details of this great tragedy, it would have been an easier burden for them to endure. And to make matters even more dramatic the sanitorium was the same name as my grandfather's. Edouard Richer.
My brother Edward was born on January 5, 1945. My grandfather Alfred, intercepted the telegram declaring that my father had died before my mother left for the hospital. They kept all newspapers and radio away from her. Before Mom left the hospital, my father’s uncle, Wilfred a priest, (who had influenced & sponsored my father to the priesthood) came to give her the news.
A memorial service was scheduled for February 1945.
Some of my own reflections today: My Mom must have been in so much emotional pain coming home with a new baby & a toddler. I can't imagine how much strength, courage & faith she had to have to get her through the daily tasks of taking care of Eddie & I. Living 2 floors above her parent's apartment must have been a great consolation but when day is done, everyone goes back home and one is left with memories and heartache. Having 2 children who depended on her must have given her reason to go on, two blessings in disguise but nothing can bring back the joys of parenting together.
I don’t remember my father Alfred. I never felt the emotional pangs of losing my father. There are many pictures and stories. An album has been made by his younger brother, Maurice, given to their mother, Evangeline on Mother’s Day of 1948. (I received this album just a few years ago, I didn’t even know it existed. Which upset me since some of my cousins had already been given access to the book.)
Excerpts from the Memorial book on my father's life, written by his brother Maurice dedicated to their mother Evangeline on Mother's Day 1948.
It is true of every mother, part of her died with her dying child. If she were asked which one of her eight children she loves best? I believe she would answer: "the one who is sick until he gets well; the one who is away, until he comes home." Surely she has an extended love for Alfred. And she will always love him more, until the day when she will join him in eternal repose; and then she will loves us more, until we in turn join her in the bosom of God Almighty.
Some lives are great romances, that are told in lovely words and charming phrases. Some lives are long and interminable tragedies on the stage of time, and of which no one dares to write. Some lives are epic poems written in deeds in the book of years. Some written lives are never lived; and some lived lives are never written. Some lives are sad, some are joyful; but most lives are a mixture, and these are more realistic and more worthy of belief. There was one life which was very usual to the eyes of all; yet, to those who came in close contact with it, it was sort of a epic poem; a love poem, or rather a poem of love; a poem unfolding a story of love; of a boy's love for his parents, of a student's love for the principles he learned, of a young man's love for a young woman, of a father's love for his children, of a soldier's love for his country, of a Catholic's love for God.
In my younger years, I don’t believe I missed out, as far as love and attention. Love came from many directions. Probably because of the circumstances I was given more than most children.
In my later years as a teenager, I often wondered what kind of lifestyle I would have had. Alfred would have been strict in my upbringing, he would have stuck to the rules. Looking at the life of his siblings I imagine ours would have been the same. Stable, loving & very Catholic.
Marie & Alfred Marineau
29 Quirin Street
Mom, Jackie & Eddie 3rd floor
Memere & Pepere Marineau 1st floor
Front Porch 31 Quirin Street
April 22, 1946
Ste. Marie Church
My mother Rita, was re-married on April 22, 1946 to Marcel Lesmerises. Marcel,who had been one of her boy friends in high school, had just returned from the Pacific. He was a Marine and proud of it. A "First Marine Raider" under Edson. Marcel was a meat cutter and worked at a meat packing plant called Foster Beef Company.
This is a story that was passed on to us by my mother. It seems that Marcel had always had a love for Rita and when he was in the Pacific and heard that her husband Alfred had died, he told his fellow Marines that when he returned to the US, he would marry a widow with two children and true to his words, he did just that.
Photo taken in 2007
Before Marcel entered the Marine Corps, he lived at 412 Cartier Street in Manchester with his parents Camille & Marie and his siblings on the second floor.
This home is situated on the corner of Cartier & Amory Street.
Engine 6 is diagonally across.
Dick's mother Odelie, also lived in this same apartment in the mid 1900's.
Odelie Michel-St Hilaire
standing 2nd from left
During the 1950's & beyond the home was owned by Dave DesRuisseuaux's grandparents, Robert & Fernande Gosselin. Dr. Marcel Dupuis (who delivered 2 of my children) had a medical practice on the first floor and he and his wife lived on the third floor.
The Lesmerises Family
Standing left to right-Marcel-Raoul Yvette-Lionel Anita-Lawrence-Armand
The following is a brief summary of Marcel's service in the "1st Marine Raiders" under Edson. The info came from Gerry Jr, who received the files from a government agency.
Marcel was inducted in the Marine reserves in January of 1942. He was 22 years old. He left his meat cutting job at Foster Beef in December 1941. He was making $21 per week, a pretty good salary in those days.
He did his basic training at Paris Island, SC. His allotment was 66 cents per week for incidentals. cigarettes cost 24 cents a pack in those days (google). His monthly allotment started at $5.94 in 1942 & in 1944 rose to $6.25 which he turned over to buying bonds.
In September 1942 at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands he was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart. He returned to active duty in May 1943. Other places where he fought were New Geogia Island part of the British Solomon Islands. He earned 87 credits during his time in active duty. Not sure if the max was 100 but he had a blank for children dependents.
From July 10, 1944 to July 21, 1944, Marcel was AOL. There was a $25 Reward posted for his return. After he returned, his trial was set for July 24, 1944.
Marcel was honorably discharged in October 1945 at Camp LaJeune, NC.
I lost 2 Dads to this war, Alfred KIA & Marcel who in the early 1970's was given a full government pension for mental illness due to his experiences in combat. I am a strong activist in the peace movement.
Isaiah 32:17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
The following stories were revealed to me on my visit to Canada in October 2013, through my Aunt Florence, my mother's sister of "The Little Sisters of the Holy Family" in Sherbrooke, Canada.
About one year after my father Alfred's death, Mom was at Sunday mass and outside Ste. Marie's Church, Marcel's mother Marie-Louise, pointed out to Marcel that the widow Rita Richer was leaving the church. Marcel pursued Rita and walked her home about 15 minutes away. It seems that he stayed in her apartment for almost 3 hours. Rita's parents were furious. Not a good first impression for Marcel.
The story continues. In 1945-46 Florence, the youngest of my Mother's siblings, was in her Senior year of high school, when my mother started dating Marcel. It seems that their parents Marie & Alfred were not too fond of Marcel. Well, he had a hard task ahead of him, if you compared him with my father Alfred an ex-seminarian, Marcel was a bit of a rebel, not overly religious etc., he did his Catholic duty but it was strained, I remember the discussions that we had when I was older, Marcel would have embraced Vatican II.
When it came close to their wedding date in April, Florence overheard her parents saying that they would not babysit for the honeymoon.
Florence felt bad and stepped into the situation and offered to babysit my brother and I for their honeymoon. Mom was elated. This was Easter vacation and she had a full week to give to them. Florence also bought them a nice bedroom chair. I told Aunt Florence in 2013, that I'm sure the babysitting would have been more than enough.
This conversation with Aunt Florence reminded me of a story that my Mother told me about New Year's Eve, when she wanted to go out with Marcel and she couldn't find a babysitter. Years later I understood why Mom did not want to babysit any of her grandchildren. At that time in 1963, I did understand my Mom's resistance to her own grandchildren and I had shrugged it off and often delivered this statement to my siblings on answering them when asked: "Mom, still had children to raise herself and she didn't have the time or energy to give to her grandchildren". Which they accepted but still felt hurt by the neglect. I reminded them and still do, that Bobbie was 2 years old when my daughter Donna was born etc.
Since Aunt Florence gave me the missing pieces to the puzzle I now have a much better view of Mom's reasoning on babysitting. And I also have a better understanding of Marcel's dilemma throughout the years of their marriage. First living with us in her parent's apartment for almost 4 years and going through the birth of 3 more children before we all finally moved into our new home. What freedom this must have given Dad and in retrospect Mom and the rest of us.
When I showed this video to Florence's brother Bernard & his wife Annette, I mentioned that in "those" days, one could not get married during Lent and that Rita & Marcel did not waste any time getting married on Easter Monday.
Well, you would have thought that I had blasphemed the Catholic Church by this remark, I was just putting in my two cents, thinking it was kind of typical for my Dad. So, Uncle Ben says kind of in a huffy manner: "How do you know that & how do you know it's not the same today? 'I responded, that I didn't really know for sure.' I was just stating "in those days". I know that my Uncle Ben often stated to me directly that he would never leave the Roman Catholic Church, no matter what? Okay, I am only telling my truth, I am not telling you to change your truth. This he remarked after I had given my Aunt Annette a copy of a "manuscript" for lack of a better word of my personal life situations with my 30+ years of recovery. I titled it: "Christ is Counting on You". A saying that my Uncle & Aunt have heard many times through the Cursillo movement.
Marcel & Jackie
29 Quirin Street-3rd floor porch
Eddie recently has been revealing his feelings about Marcel our Dad. It seems that Eddie was never close to Dad and never felt love from him. Eddie does however mention that he was very close to Pepere Marineau. I tell Eddie that yes, Pepere spoiled you like I spoil Eric.
This revelation brings me to tears, while I try to explain the possibilities that Marcel must have experienced during the beginning years of his relationship with our Mom, Rita.
I had never realized how Eddie not having a father must have affected his life.
I explain to Eddie that he was a reflection of our father Alfred and that I was a reflection of our mother Rita. This seemed to suffice.
Eddie & Jackie 1947
January 10,1947, Rita and Marcel had their first child, a son Gerald. Gerry once told me that he remembers Mom hovering over him in the bassinet.
In November, 1947 my father Alfred’s body was returned to the States for burial in the Richer family plot. He had originally been interned at Henri-LaChapelle, a cemetery in Belgium. Bringing a body back to the homeland is called repatriated.
My mother was pregnant with Marcel’s second child. There was a full military funeral, for the second time but this time my mother and her family were placed in back of Alfred’s family. How difficult this situation had to be for Marcel. I was told later that he did not want to attend the funeral and that his mother Marie Louise was very influential in his being there.
Who could blame my father's parents and siblings in bringing back the remains. It brought some kind of closure to this part of their lives but also opened up many wounds in my Mom's & Marcel's life.
July 2, 1948 another son, Donald was born. July 29, 1950, finally a sister, Susie.
Life was good. In first grade I went to a Catholic boarding school, the Villa Augustina in Goffstown. This was 1948. I stayed at this school for three years. Under the direction of The Religious of Jesus and Mary.
A little side story about Eddie’s accident in Pepere Marineau’s cellar. It seems that Eddie about 5 years old and Gerry 3 years old, saw an ax on top of a beam and with their baseball caps tried to hit it and bring it down. Eddie was bending to pick up his cap and the ax fell on top of his head. Blood every wheres, scared as hell. They ran upstairs to Memere Marineau's and she cleaned the blood off. No hospital run on this incident.
Another "ax" story with Eddie, Gerry & Don. Eddie being the oldest and the instigator bellowed his brothers to go in back of "Rock Rimmon" to see him chop down a tree. Eddie having started the chopping shows Don the cut and Don starts feeling the tree but doesn't listen to Eddie telling him to get out of the way because he is coming down again on the tree. Well you guessed it, Don doesn't listen, thinks it's a prank and Eddie hits Don's hand.
Boys will be boys, that's how I looked at it, being the oldest I just looked at it all as the way things are.
1949 First Communion
Standing lt-rt in back, Blackie, Jackie, Roger, Moe, Chip, Eddie
Standing lt-rt in front, Gravel, Don in stroller, Gerry
The morning of my First Communion, I get up and brushed my teeth and I swallow some toothpaste. I am a little concerned. Should I tell one of the Sisters, I am a boarder at the Villa Augustina or should I keep it to myself?
"In those days a person receiving Communion had to stop eating at midnight. It was called fasting, so that you would have an emptiness and create a need for Jesus. Something like that, the right theology escapes me. Later in the 1960's the Catholic Church eliminated this rule of Canon Law. There would be many more rules that would be changed thereafter."
We are only 7 girls making our First Communion and my parents and relatives are waiting in the Chapel. I don't want to take a chance and tell anyone because it would disrupt the celebration, so I tell no one and feel a great sense of relief. Deep down I knew I had made the right decision. The Catholic Church teaches that a child of 7 has the gift of reason, well, it certainly worked in this dilemma, the first of many dilemmas facing me in my spiritual journey.
Mom & Dad decide to take me out of the Villa, explaining to me that they noticed that many girls who graduated from an all girls school were boy crazy. Crazy don't you think? In 4th grade I started at St. Jean the Baptiste on Kelley Street. I had no problem changing schools. I loved it there!
Villa Augustina Academy
Living the Life of Riley
In 1950 my Mom and Dad bought a new home at 311 Reed Street. These were very good years and wonderful times for our growing family. It had 4 bedrooms, a large yard, plenty of room for all of us 5 children.
Dad helped Leon Brousseau build our new home.
311 Reed Street
Ordination of my Uncle Maurice (Alfred’s youngest sibling). May 1951.
I played the piano
Mom made the beautiful gown, light pink organza with a wine colored velvet sash.
February 13, 1927-September 5, 1987
In 1952, my Uncle Maurice was associate pastor at St. Jean the Baptiste when I enrolled in 4th grade. It was a regular Catholic school for boys and girls. I loved the change. A little different from Villa Augustina but I had a great nun Sister Irene (Souer Marie de L’Incarnation). She was young, vibrant and full of Spirit. We had a special relationship. Could be because it was both our first year at St. Jean the Baptiste.
I recently saw Gloria Prince and Elaine Poirer and Gloria also started at St. Jean’s the same year as I did in 1952 and she confirmed that it was also Sister Irene’s first year at that school and like myself just adored her. Gloria lived on Youville Street, her father was a fireman just like Marcel. The 3 of us reminisced about old boy friends, Elaine had a crush on a boy from California who came to our school for about 5 weeks and I had a crush on Tom Labrie. I asked them if they knew where he was and Elaine thinks that Tom settled in California. Elaine is now in a relationship that is somewhat significant to my brother Eddie. She is dating Ray Bergeron, Eddie's closest friend at the age of 13 when our family moved to Florida.
One of the fun things that Sister Irene asked us to do was to bring any record to be played at school. My Mom and Dad had a nice collection of 78 rpm’s and the record that I choose was: “Open the Door Richard”. A fun song and later the name Richard became very significant in my life’s story.
Open the door, Richard, Open the door and let me in, Open the door, Richard, Richard why don't you open the door? Open the door, Richard, Open the door and let me in. Open the door, Richard, Richard, why don't you open the door? I'm standing here diggin' in my hip-pocket, And I'm stand-in' here scratch-in' in my pants-pocket, And I'm standing here grop-in' in my coat pocket, And I just can't find that key. Open the door, Richard, Open the door and let me in, Open the door, Richard, Richard why don't you open the door? Open the door?
I went on "U-tube" to get the words to this song and there were a few versions to pick from, I took the less "risky" version because the other version was banned. I am hoping that I had the "good" version to share with my classmates.
Sister Irene was well ahead of the times. Trying to incorporate a child's view of life with an adult is no easy feat. I remember thinking wow, she is pretty nice to let us bring a record to school.
I'm sure Sister Irene probably had no idea what we would be bringing to school. Most of us didn't have our own record collection, I had one record/book and it was the full "play" of Peter Pan. I often tell my grand kids how lucky they are that they can watch any Disney movie (they have them all) anytime that they want. I continue with "I would have loved to watch "Cinderella" many times over."
Jackie & Eddie
4th grade-2nd grade
St. Jean the Baptiste School
I was not close to my grandfather Edouard Richer. He was a big man and never smiled much in front of me. I probably reminded him of the good days when his son Alfred was still alive, nevertheless, Ed and I visited my father’s parents at least once a year at Christmas. Memere Richer would always have a gift for all her grandchildren and gave us extra treats to take home to our other brothers and sisters. She loved Christmas and once told me that she started in January to start planning and making things for gifts.
First Communion 1949
My grandfather was 60 years old when he died in 1953. The story that I heard was that he died instantly of a heart attack. Although, I later found out from Uncle Hector that my grandfather was well aware that his time was limited and that he had heart problems for many years.
Going back to our family life on Reed Street. One summer I remember my brothers and I and Susie found a dead bird in our back yard. We were all pretty taken by it all. We decided in honor of the bird to do a funeral, we found a shoe box, dug a hole in the back yard, placed the bird in the box, buried the bird and said prayers and put flowers on the grave.
Here are a couple of other "pet" stories.
We had several kittens in and out of our household. The boys use to tease the little kittens and throw them up in the air in the basement to hit the nails coming out of the flooring.
One of the kittens, he was white hair had fleas and Dad decided to put him/her out of misery. He takes a pillow case and the cat, takes us kids along for the ride to the river's edge, puts the cat in the pillow case and tosses the cat into the river. This was a very emotional situation to be part of. To this day I have no idea why we had to go along.
Later on we had 2 baby "Collies", these puppies were for me and I was in charge of giving them there morning bottles of milk before school. My bedroom was on the 2nd floor, my parent's on the 1st floor and the puppies in the basement. We'll I didn't always hear them crying at the top of the cellar stairs and Mom often times took care of my duties so as not to wake Dad. Finally, all had had enough and the "Collies" were given away. I was distressed. Mom & Dad told me that I could have all the dogs I wanted after I left home and got married. They even put a note under the statue of Mary to that affect to remind me that when I had children of my own to take care of I might have a different view of the situation.
I did have animals in our home, once we moved out of our apartment. Kittens, until I became allergic. We had a couple of "mutts", a miniature Collie, a Pekingese dog that we called "Samie" and lastly a Schnauzer named "Gretchen". Gretchen was Lisa's dog and we had to do the same thing that my parent's did to me. Take care of the dog or we will have to give her away. History often repeats itself.
Back to the 50's. Our home was bustling and growing. There were 4 bedrooms, 2 downstairs and 2 upstairs. I shared a room with Susie upstairs, when she was a little older.
One of the many things that we did as a family was to “Pray the Rosary”. This we did in my parent’s bedroom. We had this tall statue of Mary and first ones to get to the room, could hook on to the bed, where it was more comfortable and had small rugs. These were hardwood floors.
Later on when I was older, I learnt that the statue of Mary was a wedding gift that my father Alfred had given to my Mother. I kept it for many years but on my last move, I left Mary behind in a "dumpster". In retrospect I should have given the statue to the sisters at the Precious Blood in Manchester, where they re-store religious statues.
Eddie was over recently and he mentions that he didn't remember our Dad ever going to Church. I said of course he did. The reason was that at St. Jean the Baptiste the High Mass at 9:00 am was for school children. The girls on the side of Mary and the boys on the side of St. Joseph (statues that is). Mom & Dad went to 11:30 am Mass together and we babysat the young ones. No one brought little ones to Church in those days and you only started to go to Church after you made your First Communion.
As a family, we took quite a few nice vacations together. Some that come to mind are Squam Lake in 1953 and Bangor Maine to visit Aunt Florence but the best of all came in 1958, vacation that is to Florida.
Mt. Sunapee, Mom, Jackie, Susie & Simone
We also ventured as a family climbing small mountains. Mt. Sunapee & Mt. Monadnock. These are wonderful memories.
Coming back to hardwood floors. On Saturday mornings the kids all had to patch in and do housework. We all had individual jobs to do besides our bedroom. I know that when it was time to do the "playroom" that this was a big ordeal. I also did some ironing but we had one of those big ironing machines where you could sit down to do the work. I ironed handkerchiefs, dish towels etc. What a waste of time.
Mom liked to have all things done early on Saturday morning but we kids wanted to watch cartoons. After a while I would tell Mom to stop asking if I had done such and such. I would tell her that after noontime I would get it done. Later in my teen years, I usually listened to the Top 40 songs on WKBR in my room and did my chores at that time from 10-12.
October 31, 1954
Elaine’s home on Congress Street
Standing last row lt-rt, Simone Couturier, Jackie Richer, Robert Bourque, Maurice Daneault, Dick Croteau, Elaine Poirier, Dick Bellerose
Standing 2nd row, lt-rt Jackie Chaput, Don Lesmerises, Roger Camire, Patty Poirier & Cousin, Yvette Bergeron
Front Bob Pichette
In the winter Dad spent allot of time taking care of the skating rink. It was pretty awesome, we even had music, set up from the Hi-Fi in the living room. There was a pot belly stove in the basement. Mom & Dad gave me a wonderful skating party with all my friends, Mom set up a beautiful table of food, it was in today’s standards a bit overdone, no paper plates etc. We also went skating at Ste. Jean the Baptiste, it cost 10 cents. Great times!
Christmas Day 1955
That Christmas for gifts I received new skates CCM and a brand new jacket with matching pants, black & white. Christmas was always a big deal and gifts were never lacking. There was a new store that had just opened up, it was a wholesale store called “Dufresne’s” later known as “Treisman’s” & “Service Merchandise”. Well my folks did most of their shopping there. One year I received a camera. When I entered high school, the nuns thought that I was an only child, I must have looked pretty well off. Even though I did wear some hand me down clothes from my cousin, Priscilla. Since she was an only child, her clothes were first class.
Christmas Vacation 1955
Mom went all out, great job!
In the summer we went to Horace Lake in the evening. During the day Rock Rimmon Pool. We played allot of Badminton in the back yard. We played many baseball games in the empty corner lot across the street. The whole neighborhood joined in at different times. There wasn’t any planning. Dad also managed a Little League baseball team. “New England Floor” at Cullerot Park, the next street over. So, there were lots of boys to check out. One of my boyfriends in grammar school was #10 on that team, named Raymond Scott, everyone called him Scotty. He lived on Montgomery Street. One sad thing happened the summer of ‘56, one of the best players on the team died of some type of Cancer. Last name was Sarette. My brother Eddie was on this team and all Ed remembers is that my Dad never played him.
The following story is straight from Eddie's memory:
In the last game of the season, Dad's team is winning and in the last inning with 2 outs, Eddie Is called at bat. They announce his name with a batting average of "0". Eddie gets to the plate, makes a sign of the cross+, prays for a hit. The outfielders and infielders come forward. Eddie hits and his called out on first base. His prayers were answered. Eddie says, he should have been more specific with his prayer. Again, Eddie tells me that he actually went to church to pray to get on the team, he did not just go to Mass and pray but made a special trip. He remembers that he didn't miss one game and that is number was #13. Priceless. Eddie is still very upset about his baseball days.
Speaking of Eddie, this story is my version of what happened. Still in grade school, I came home after school went upstairs to change and from my window, I see a fire in back of Rock Rimmon spreading to the ball park. The fire was out of control. I was getting a bit nervous that it wouldn't get to the homes on that street and progress to Reed Street. When all was said and done, we find out that it was my brother Eddie and the next door neighbor’s boy Johnny that started the fire with a book of matches. When Eddie recounts this story, he tells us that Dad and Mom never really punished him for the deed but that Johnny was sent away for the rest of the summer to a Youth center. Probably the place on North River Road in Manchester.
Eddie re-told the story recently and Eddie is the one who found the book of matches on his way home from school and approached Johnny to go to the woods etc. Neighbors saw Eddie and Johnny running out of the woods and reported this to the firemen.
Johnny after returning from the Youth Center was not allowed to leave his home, except for school. No going outside. I do remember going to his home and seeing him on a kitchen stool looking out the window.
The "cherry on top of the cake" is that our Dad was a fireman at the time.
Jackie & Susie
Easter circa 1955
Vivian Lesmerises (Vago), Roger Pratte and a few other kids from around came over and we put on plays and entertainment shows in the basement. I remember that we did the play “Our Lady of Fatima”, probably used Mom's statue of Mary. We had a player piano and used that for music. We charged 10 cents for the show and also sold popcorn and Kool Aid. More great fun!
Later in the 1980's Vivian and I put on a "Last Supper" play at Blessed Sacrament Parish, but Vivian was such a control freak that she did most of the work and complained to me afterwards that she was exhausted.
8th Grade Graduation-1956
Saint Jean Baptiste
Four days after my 8th grade graduation, my mother gave birth to my second sister, Connie on June 21, 1956, the first day of summer. It had been a very hot week and I remember my Mom being in the last bench at Church for my graduation.
I also had a wonderful party with all my relatives on all 3 sides. I remember Dad making Tom Collins, they looked so refreshing. I was Godmother to Connie and Dad's brother Armand was Godfather.
A few days after 8th graduation, the parish was celebrating St. Jean the Baptiste day and Elaine & I were asked to be angels on the float. There was to be a parade on Elm Street. We had finished our school year and Elaine’s Mom decided to have Elaine’s beautiful blonde curls cut off to a pixie look. When Elaine & I picked up our angel wings and robes, the nun was shocked: “Elaine, what happened to your hair?” The nun just couldn't hold it in. She wanted one angel with long blonde hair and one angel with black hair, we fit the profile, well so the nun thought.
The day of the parade arrives and the float is in the church yard and Msgr. Gilbert is sitting on a large chair, in front of a tabernacle, Elaine & I can’t remember for sure what the whole float represented. I think there were First Communion children with us. The float starts climbing the hill to Amory Street and going down hill on the old cobblestone hill to Bridge Street. The people on the float start moving downward and everyone and everything moved downward. Msgr. Gilbert is hurt and removed from the float and goes to Notre Dame Hospital (now CMC). Elaine is hurt a little. Myself, nothing and I don’t remember this part of the day. This is Elaine’s recount at the Backroom on August. 5, 2014 with Gloria Prince and I.
In late summer of 1956 I started working part-time at Gregoire’s Cleaners. I was only 14. I was paid 85 cents an hour and had to give half of my pay to my Mom. So I had $9 to spend for myself every week. Which was pretty good. I worked Mon-Fri from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm and every Sat. from 8 am to 6 pm. These were a lot of hours. Over 27 hours per week. I don’t remember taking too many breaks for lunch etc. But Roland Gregoire was a wonderful person and I learned allot. Besides cashiering, taking in dirty clothes and serving the customers when they picked up their cleaning, I also learnt how to clean the cuffs of men’s pants (dirty job), sew buttons, Mr. Duval was the tailor (who had bad breath) and separate the dirty clothes put them in the washer & dryer and hang them up. I didn't have much time to do my homework but I still had pretty good grades. There were always wonderful conversations to listen to, when people, mostly men came in just to "chew the fat".
One thing that I did not have to do anymore at home was housework. It became a family tradition that once you started to work, you didn't have to do the dishes & housework, except your bedroom. This was one good reason to get a job. (Susie tells me just recently that somehow this wasn't the case for her. It seems that Mom had neglected to start training Connie & Judy and begged Susie to to the housework, even though she had a part-time job.)
I am now a Freshman at Ste. Marie High School. Many of my elementary school friends are also going to this school. Elaine Poirier, Lee Gendron, Roger Perreault, Monique Gilbert but 2 of my closer friends Simone Couturier and Estelle Provost went to St. Joseph High School, a school for just girls. We were divided and never really stayed in touch with one another.
In my high school years, after we had moved to Reed Street, I would pass Memere Marineau’s house almost everyday after I picked up Pauline Beaulac, who lived next door and we walked to school together. There were quite a few from my old neighborhood who went to Ste. Marie High school. Roger & Moe Pratte, Vivian Lesmerises, Leo Perron, Dolores Gosselin, Elaine Hamel (who now lived in our old apartment with her Aunt Laura, who was my grandmother’s sister.
Roger Pratte during that time started being very popular with the songs that he wrote and sang, songs impersonating Elvis, he loved Elvis, tried to look like him, imitated him and the nuns at Ste. Marie’s were not too pleased with his appearance and conduct. They gave Roger an ultimatum, cut your hair, wear respectable clothes or leave Ste. Marie’s, he left and went to West High School and some of his friends followed. In the meantime I see teenage girls swooning over him and gathering on the porch of his home on Quirin Street. Thinking to myself; “What’s all that about, he’s just a guy, just like any other guy”. (Sounds like the Andrew Lloyd song in Jesus Christ Superstar, sung by Mary Magdalene.”) Gee! I could have written that song, well not really because I never had a crush on Roger. Roger changed his name to Sonny Lane, recorded a few songs and was quite popular on the East coast. Unfortunately his publisher ripped him off or his manager?
So, my old friends became my new friends again, funny how the world turns.
Dad worked at the fire house on Rimmon Street, Engine 6, and some days he would take me to school. I started at 7:45 a.m. and he started at 8:00 a.m., that is if he had the day shift. Mom and Dad had bought a brand new car in 1950, a Kaiser. Who would buy a car after WWII that was named Kaiser? Dad, loved to be different. Mom only got her driver's license when she was 38, so that would be 1958. I barely remember Mom ever taking me anywhere, she was too busy at home. We walked everywhere, didn't even take the car to church. Kept us more healthy. In grade school we even came home for lunch. We had 45 minutes and I remember doing some of my homework, like spelling words during these times.
Coming back to Aunt Laura. Memere Marineau had 3 sisters, Corinne, Carmelia & Laura and a brother. The two sisters Corinne & Laura married two brothers Omer & ? Hamel.
Laura and her husband owned a Hair Salon on Amory Street (now Domino’s Pizza). Laura was a hair dresser, he was a barber. They had no children. He was an alcoholic and fell out of a 3rd floor apartment window. That’s what Mom once told me and that is how he died.
Omer Hamel, Corinne’s husband owned the two Hamel’s markets, one on Elm Street (now where the Center of NH), the other store on McGregor Street. These two stores were the first stores in NH to have self service. Meaning, doing your own shopping and cashing out with a cashier. Corinne & Omer Hamel were very well off and lived in a beautiful old Victorian house on Hanover Street, it’s still there. Corinne & Omer Hamel were also Mom’s Godparent’s. Omer died of a heart attack while vacationing in Florida and their son Gerald Hamel took over the family business. From what I heard he also was an alcoholic, ran the store to the ground and was forced out of NH. His family lived in a grand home on Maple Street, which is now part of Maple Leaf Nursing Home. Gerald Hamel moved out of state to Connecticut, got work as a meat cutter. He had 4 children, Gerry, Dolores, Elaine & Edward, The last 2 were not of age to stay alone in NH. Elaine, stayed at Ste. Marie High School (graduated 1957). She lived with Aunt Laura on Quirin Street. Her brother Edward went to CT with his father.
Carmelia Girard married a Provost, who also owned a grocery store. Provost’s Market was on the corner, where the Verizon Arena now is.
This situation must have been “awkward” when the sisters and their families got together. Good question for Uncle Ben.
My father Alfred, worked as a meat cutter at Provost’s Market and my mother worked as a cashier at Hamel’s Market.
Back to 1956, Freshman initiation came around and somehow Andy St. Germain a senior at Ste. Marie High School took it upon himself to be my “troublemaker”. He handcuffed me for a full day with Roger Perreault, I remember Roger coming to my house for dinner that evening and after dinner, Dad had the keys, took off the handcuffs so that I could get ready for the night’s activities. Roger lived on Mason Street. I was very upset about the whole situation and I knew that Roger had somewhat of a crush on me, which made it even more uncomfortable all around.
On Friday nights I often went dancing at a very popular spot sponsored by WKBR. It was called "Club 96" at Sweeney Post. All students from the various High Schools in the area went. It was a great experience and I was lucky that my parents trusted me to do these kinds of things. Met boys, even one from Goffstown High School that I dated. His name was Bill Reno.
We also had dances at Ste. Marie High School. These were fun times. I had dates with Al Sullivan and Ron Carbonneau. Ron was my third cousin on my grandfather Alfred’s side. Ron’s grandmother Aurore Marineau Carbonneau was my grandfather’s sister. So it was decided by the “grown-ups” that we stop dating. I remember my Mom telling me this, while she was cooking dinner at the stove and I said but I really love him and she said: “It’s just puppy love”. What's does that mean, I thought to myself.
One of our dates, was a school dance, we were both Freshmen. I had this beautiful red taffeta dress on and I remember strolling down the stairs and turning the corner, just like Loretta Young in her TV show and asking how did I look. My Mother answered: “It’s not polite to ask such questions, you need to practice humility”. Ron’s father picked us up, we double dated with Pauline Bernier and Moe Lavigne (now a priest). Between Ron & I we were not the best of dancers, I had on black suede pumps & I was getting stepped on quite a bit.
The last time I saw Pepere Marineau was a few weeks before he went into the hospital. He had walked over to our home on Reed Street to see my Mom and Dad. I answered the door and told Pepere that they were not home. I wished I had spoken to him more that day but I was a typical teenager just thinking about what’s going on in my life. I did learn a hard lesson and it stayed with me throughout my teenage years. That day, Pepere had on a maroon jacket and a gray hat.
Pepere was a very proud man and liked things neat and perfect. He was a carpenter and things had to work out perfect or work will not be accepted. He passed this on to his household and children, especially Uncle Ben. The old saying: “The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.”
Pepere had told his family that if he ever got sick, he didn't want to impoverish his family with worrying and taking care of him. He collapsed at home and immediately went into a coma. True to his words, he died 3 days after his cerebral hemorrhage, he was 70 years old. Goes to show you that you can actually make events happen. The mind is a wonderful instrument if used wisely.
Pepere Marineau’s Funeral Day
Standing left-right Marcel, Rita, Annette, Bernard, Madeleine, Fernand
Sitting left-right Sister companion, Marie & Florence
On November 24, 1957, a third sister Judy was born. I now had allot of small siblings to sing to and I loved to sing and still do.
A neighbor noticed how well I sang and suggested to Mom that I take singing lessons. So now I was taking piano and singing lessons. Many many years later, Susie tells me that she had always wanted to take either singing or piano lessons but Mom & Dad told her that they couldn't afford it. The reason that I was able to have these lessons was that Mom was getting money from the government for my care and Eddie’s also.
From 1942-1957, my mother, Rita had 7 children and 1 miscarriage, between Ed and I. She was in Boston with my father Alfred and had to stay in the hospital to recover.
From 1953-1958 Marcel was a fireman for the City of Manchester. I think he worked part-time as a meat cutter, not sure. I know that he also worked in construction for Leon Brousseau. They built our home on Reed Street.
and yet no satisfaction for my Dad
When your values change, your purpose changes.
In 1958, I was a Sophomore at Ste. Marie High School. I had many friends and family life was good. My parents trusted me and there wasn't much that they refused to let me do. I made second honor roll and that was pretty good since I also worked almost 30 hours a week.
Encountering Dick St. Hilaire
Dick, a Senior was in the same Latin II class as me, we sat next to each other. He was a nice guy and I often helped him with his homework, which it seemed that he never had enough time to complete. He was in sports and also worked part time at Gosselin's Pharmacy. (I was a enabler, that's what they call it now, why should Dick do his homework, if I didn't refuse him?) Sister Rose Chretien, was such a wonderful teacher and I enjoyed the class.
In early 1958, a friend of mine Bob Gosselin was having a party at his home. Girl-Boy dancing etc. So I asked Elaine Poirier, my best friend to see if she could find out for me if Dick would be interested in coming to the party with me. He came to me and said that he couldn't come to the party but would I like to go to the Ste. Marie Valentine Dance, which was before the party on February 18th. I said yes.
We were 3 couples in the car. Lee Gendron and her date Sonny Pidgeon, who is driving a Chevy. Elaine Poirier and George Pratte in the back with Dick and I. I am wearing a nice black felt skirt with fake mink & velvet top/rhinestones (second hand) and my black suede pumps. Dick is a pretty good dancer, I don’t remember him stepping on my shoes.
This is one of the big social dances of the year and a queen is chosen from the Senior class along with princesses for her court, girls who are Freshman, Sophomores & Juniors. I happened to be chosen as a Sophomore princess. Needless to say, Dick and I had a pretty nice evening.
We went to eat after the dance at a restaurant close to Lake Massabesic, The Arcadian Pines. On the way home, we were pretty crowded in the back seat and I situated myself on Dick’s lap. Well you can bet we weren't just talking!
Mom, later informs me that many of the judges that evening were people that they knew. Every little bit helps, right? And don’t forget Dick was a pretty good dancer.
Error in the picture should be
Richard St. Hilaire '58
February 18, 1958
Ste. Marie High School
A few days after the Valentine’s dance, Dick tells me that he can go to the private party at Bob Gosselin’s house. Bob’s parents never came downstairs to check on the teenagers. Good thing because the dancing got to be more than just dancing. Later on after we had been dating awhile, Dick tells me that the only reason he had said no about going to the party, was that he knew that his Mother would say no. So Dick never asked his Mother and just made the decision on his own. Yeah!
Dick worked part time at Gosselin’s Pharmacy, down the bottom of the hill, across St. Mary’s Bank. He delivered prescriptions etc. Worked about 20 hours a week. He also played Varsity basketball and baseball. It was fun to be in the balcony and watch him play and listening to the band playing "When the Saints Come Marching In", when they all entered the hall.
He took time to walk me to work almost everyday. I use to tell him that he had a cushion y job & that he had it made being the only child at home with no cares in the world except school & sports. I oftentimes throughout our life together told him that he was spoiled & later added, like Bobbie. Dick would later tell me that he understood Bobbie more than most of us because he was the last born.
By now I wore Dick's lettered sweater and his class ring around my neck. It was called "going steady".
I not only had Dick’s class ring around my neck, I had Sister Wilfrid Marie, nicknamed “Dick Tracy”. First thing she said in front of the whole class after giving each of us our grade for Geometry and I quote: “Miss Richer, I thought since you were a Richer, that you would get better grades.” I got an 87. Another time, again in front of the whole class: “Miss Richer, I saw you and Mr. St Hilaire the other afternoon from my classroom window, you were holding hands.” How embarrassing is that? I put it off as ignorance or just plain jealousy, later through the years, I find out that her real name is Rebecca and she is now using the name Sister Rebecca. Such a beautiful name for such a ### person.
In April, my parents with my grandmother Marie, went on vacation to Florida. Aunt Laura, Marie’s sister was in charge of the 7 of us.
When they returned from their vacation, they were very excited and told us that this summer they would take us all on vacation so that we could explore and enjoy what they had experienced. Connie and Judy stayed in NH with Aunt Laura.
For my 16th birthday, I had my first big birthday party with all my friends. Also, received a white portable radio, which I had hinted about.
Dick asked me to go to his Senior Prom in May and I accepted. It was at the Carpenter Hotel. I remember that his class chose to have Fried Chicken as their entree. Not a very good choice for such a big affair, I didn't eat much that evening. It was a pleasant enough evening but I was just a Sophomore but fortunate that one of my closest friends (Lorraine Frechette) was dating Dick’s friend Ray Allard and we all went together. Later on I always went to Dick's High School Reunions & enjoyed them.
Ray Allard '58 & Lorraine Frechette '60
Dick St Hilaire '58 & Jackie Richer '60
311 Reed Street
Notice the background on the drapes are the same color as my gown! Second hand from my cousin Priscilla, cost me $10 & here comes Lorraine with the most beautiful lilac dress and furthermore she shows me the beautiful Gardenia corsage & tells me to smell it, of course she says that it was a very delicate flower and probably wouldn't last as long as mine. Mine, I don't even remember the flower that Dick gave me, I think it was a small Orchid. I know "petty" but the feeling only lasted for a second or so...
Mom & Dad had those drapes custom made & their bedroom drapes as well.
Oh! Also the living room furniture. Rose pink sectional couch & 2 blue arm chairs in front of the picture window. The walls were teal. Lots of color in that room with blond matching tables & TV.
At this point in 1958 I had had a few dinners with Dick’s Mother (Odelie) and his Father (Wilfrid), at his home. His Mother was a wonderful cook and heavyset. She was quite a bit older than my Mother. Dick was the last born and she was 44 when she had him. When Dick graduated from high school, his parents were in their early 60’s, whereas my parents were not even 40.
Dick loved my family, my brothers were closer in age than his own, Dick fitted in nicely like another brother. Dick would come often to my home to baby-sit with me. My brothers, Gerry, Ed & Don, loved to tease us and after we bedded them down, always seemed to sneak down the staircase and investigate what we were doing. Like kissing etc. With 3 brothers & 3 sisters in the house, there wasn't much chance of anything going on. Mom & Dad loved to go dancing and went to the Carousel Ballroom almost every Saturday night with their friends.
I met all Dick’s relatives at his High School graduation. They were a wholesome bunch and made me feel like one of the family. I was pretty used to this kind of mixing and wasn’t shy about it. The only thing was trying to relate to his Mother and Father, who were my grandparents age. I found it awkward. (notice the hutch in the background, look familiar?)
Dick was the only one in his family who graduated from high school. All had to go to work at 16 to support the household. Dick's brother Armand joined the Navy and Ralph was in the Army during the war years but home based. Ralph worked on the CCC project that FDR instituted among many other programs during the 1940’s. Dick’s sisters Irene & Rollande worked in the shoe shops. His father was a machinist.
166 Cartier Street-1st floor
Photo taken in 2007
After Dick graduated from high school, he started working at Manchester Knitted Fashions and so did his friend Ray Allard. Dick was making $1 an hour, gave all his pay to his parents and received $20 a week. My Dad, told Dick that if was interested he could get him into Granite State Packing to learn the meat cutting trade, it paid much better and he would have a trade. So Dick who would turn 18 November 6th, became a meat cutter. I remember Dick telling me that Ed Gendron would pick him up on the corner of Putnam & Cartier Streets and he had to be prompt, or he would miss his ride. They started work at 5 a.m.
In the summer of 1958, we all went on vacation to visit Florida, except Connie & Judy. We drove down in our '54 Packard and we couldn’t wait to cross the border into Florida. We went to the Everglades, St. Petersburg, Daytona Beach, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. We visited Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, saw alligators ruffling around with their owners and cruised the canals looking at the beautiful homes & was told about the famous people who lived in these homes, we went to Sea World and saw dolphins, it was all very exciting. Of course vacations in Florida are not the same as living in Florida full time.
After returning to NH, my parents decided that the family would be moving to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was devastated and so was Dick. I didn't have much choice at 16 but did make a statement that I would only go to a Catholic High School, no public school for me. I was a very religious girl (back then) and didn't want to be with kids who might deter me from following my Catholic religion. My parents agreed and we sold our beautiful home on Reed Street, sold all the furniture except the washer and dryer and in October we were on the road. My Dad did not have a job and we didn't have a place to live. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and rented a 2 bedroom with kitchenette and pool at a motel. We stayed there for 2 weeks, while my Dad found a job. My Mom had just started driving at 38, so she registered the kids for school and we began searching for a home, first rent and later buy.
Dad was adventurous and Mom followed with her famous anthem that "God will provide". Naive yes but determined to keep her family intact and make sure that Dad would be happier starting all over again.
Aunt Florence once told me that gambling was a big part of Marcel's life early in their marriage. When Mom was pregnant for Susie they had a small car accident in Maine, everything turned out okay at that time but I do remember waking up the morning that Mom went into labor for Susie and the sheets were in the bathtub full of blood.
So gambling became a part of their lives together. I remember going to
"Jai Li" games just outside Ft. Lauderdale in Hialeah with Mom & Dad. I didn't pay much attention to the idea of his gambling and never even realized that gambling is a form of addiction. This came much later, later meaning that the gambling accelerated as well as my understanding.
I started school at the beginning of October at Central Catholic. I hated the whole scenario, it was a much larger school but much newer and contemporary compared to Ste. Marie High School. Every time we, changed class, we would be outside, walking around to the next. The kids were friendly enough, after all most of the kids were from the North and were going through the same stuff as me.
Something that I really had not come to terms with at this time. If I had found someone who had shared these same feelings with me, I believe it would have made a big difference. Recently, my brother Ed, a Freshman when I was a Senior, tells me that he had the same feelings as me, I said to him, why didn't you tell me? He shrugged, I didn't think it would make a difference. I can understand that because no matter what we were feeling, we were still stuck in Florida. But still, in retrospect it would have made it better.
My sister Susie also shared with me how tumultuous the move back to NH was for her in 1963. When she left NH she was 8 years old, when she came back 13, a teenager having to start all over again. From 8-13 a young girl's whole emotional life changes. The ramifications of the move was starting to develop more than 50 years later.
Another alumni of Central Catholic HS change to St. Thomas Aquinas H.S. wrote in the "75th Anniversary Alumni Directory", that he did not feel accepted as a newcomer when he entered the school. Too bad we didn't have school counselors, the healing process could have started much earlier. In my case, I am just beginning to heal because I was always waiting for my Mom to say to me: "I'm sorry". It never happened, so here I am 50+ years after Florida and I still have all this healing work to do. It never ends and I was only in Florida for two years but those two years changed my life forever.
Now in 2014, I realize that it is me who has to do the "healing", it is me who has to bring these types of things to the surface, it is my responsibility to forgive and ask forgiveness if I want to live in peace and harmony. Easier said than done.
In moving to Fort Lauderdale, the first house that we rented was on the more neglected side of Broward Blvd. and it had cockroaches. These insects could be pretty large and they flew and hid themselves in shoes and under the table and inside the toaster. I hated that place and finally we found a new home in Melrose Park, it was beautiful. 3 Bedrooms and 2 full size bathrooms. Susie, Connie & I shared the Master bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen was lovely, it was all pink enamel cupboards and appliances. There was a mud room after entering from the carport. This is where the washer & dryer were situated and where we took off our shoes. The living room was huge and there was a Florida room. The floors were all Terrazzo, cement poured in, white with specks. We had a circular drive way and a nice patio in the back off of the Florida room. A fairly spacious lot.
The couple who sold us the house were from Cincinnati and they were moving back after just a few months of living in this house, it just wasn't their lifestyle, so my parents got a pretty good price. So here we are a family of 9 with a 1954 Packard coming into a pretty nice neighborhood. I remember that there was a community pool and they were charging families $300 a year for me membership. Needless to say we didn't join.
The home was situated at 3588 SW 1st Street, right off Broward Blvd. So we had no furniture, the NH folks told my parents that our NH furniture would not fit well in these homes. How wrong they were. My parents had the furniture custom made as well as the draperies. The colors would have fit in perfectly a hot pink sectional and 2 blue armchairs with blond tables and TV.
I still remember the ABC Furniture truck coming into our drive way. It was cheap furniture and not enough of it to fill this very spacious house. The living room looked bare and we had this beautiful planter with plants dividing the living room and Florida room. Something was missing, the walls were all white and we had white drapes. Mom made some nice colorful drapes for the bedrooms. The girl’s room were pink & gray, nice satin material. I am retelling this from a 16 year old view point, filled with many mixed emotions. The house was beautiful on the outside but the inside left much to the imagination. My Dad did find meat cutting work and Mom stayed at home, just like in NH.
When I went to register at Central Catholic High School, the nuns were Dominican Sisters all dressed in white. I entered with an average for my grades of 94 but I never saw those good grades again.
This was the first time that I would have lay people for teachers. The only religious that I had was for Latin. I took 3 years of Latin, all toll. I was hoping to be a nurse or a lab technician.
A few girls reached out to me, one Maria Mazza. She was a beautiful girl with a beautiful soul. She had short black curly hair and lived with her parent’s and younger brother also in Melrose Park. Their home was lovely, a grand piano in the Florida Room and her bedroom had a canopy bed. Her Mom slim and pert, drove a large red Dodge with push buttons. I remember often when she picked us up, she had just had her nails manicured and she would push those buttons very carefully. Funny, how some things stay with you. Needless to say, the families lived two different lifestyles. Maria was a girl scout and also took piano lessons. The family was from Indiana. Maria had other friends that she introduced me too. Karen Keegan, Nancy Miller and Charley Fix. Charley became my brother Don’s Confirmation sponsor. Charley still lives in Fort Lauderdale and updates the class of 1960 through e-mails. Later Maria had her own car, a black '53 Oldsmobile? So I didn't walk to school as often.
Since I was a transfer from NH, my credits were good but some classes I had to take without my Junior classmates. Biology I took with the Freshman class and History with the Seniors. I came in with 14 credits, so I really only needed 7 more to graduate. When I was at Ste. Marie’s, the principal Sister Judith Marie had me on a fast road to graduate in 3 years. She also had plans for me to go to Rivier College in Nashua. She would have been devastated to find out that one of her “star” students, went from A’s & B’S to many C’s. I really didn’t care much to study, I was depressed, started to gain weight. When we moved to Florida, I weighed about 110 lbs. There were no counselors at school, to see what direction I was heading. I've never seen that weight again.
Physical Education & Home Economics were mandatory in Florida, no such thing in NH. So, I had to get a gym suit, royal blue along with school uniforms, Navy blue skirts and white short sleeve blouses and saddle shoes/white sox. I really got to like both classes. At first I was a bit nervous about phys ed, with the girl’s locker room & showers but I got over it and really enjoyed Miss Maynard and her techniques. I loved basketball and soccer. I was fairly athletic having played, badminton, baseball, swimming and skating, so I was not overly concerned. Home economics is where I learnt how to sew and was pretty fast and good at it. I made several nice dresses, even my graduation dress. Mom had a portable sewing machine.
After settling into my new school, I had to find a part time job. I had experience as a cashier and got a job at Grand Way, walking distance from my home, just across Broward Blvd. This was a gigantic store, that sold everything from clothes, hardware to a full size grocery store. Tax had to be handled, something very new for us NH folks. So the customer would put all the “hard goods” first, so that we added tax and then the food followed. A cashier had to keep her counter clean because sometimes clothes came right after a messy grocery order. Well, you get the picture.
I was pretty fast at the registers, so I was put on the Express lane pretty often. Much easier than those huge orders. Later, I was put at the customer service desk, cashing payroll checks. I whizzed through that pretty good and I could sit on a high chair inside an enclosed booth, where I was well protected from robbers. I handled lots of money, these were mostly payroll checks. I worked 30 hours a week for $1 an hour. Wow! That was 15 cents an hour more than NH rates.
The family went to church every Sunday. Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Fort Lauderdale, right next to Central Catholic High School.
The first Christmas in Florida, Dick and I sent each other a gift, we had both chosen missals, without not one of us asking for one. Mine was white, Dick’s black. As you can see we were very devoted to our Catholic religion. Dick had been an alter boy at a young age and had just stopped at the age of 18. That’s allot of kneeling.
When confession time came to me in Florida, I was a bit worried, I didn’t know my prayers in English. I had always gone to confession in French. No problem, said the priest just say them in French, the prayers that is not the "sins". At home our family only spoke French and when I started high school, I spoke French-English and in Florida, there were no two ways about it, it was all English.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Dad, Judy & Jackie
Our first Christmas in Florida, we bragged to the Northerners that we had swam in the ocean. We were only 6 miles from Lauderdale beach. This kind of lost it’s flavor and after the first year we barely went to the beach in the winter.
We didn’t sit around to tan, we just developed a nice light tan year round.
First Christmas in Florida '58
Don't know where that "real" Christmas tree came from?
Later we had one of those silver aluminum Christmas trees
1958 was a year of ups and downs. Steady dating with Dick, Valentine's Dance, Dick's Senior Prom, my 16th Birthday Party, vacationing in Florida.
Who doesn't love to take a family vacation to exotic places?
A vacation vs. a move is very different.
At 16, I didn't have the knowledge on how to deal with it. No counseling at school, no family dialogue, just withholding my feelings. What was the use of sharing my feelings? All was said and done.
I tried to look at the move as a fresh start, new friends, new boyfriends. It didn't matter, I had changed from an outgoing extroverted popular girl to a depressive situation. I had a few girl friends and some dates but my heart wasn't in it.
In Front of the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas
The year began with Dick enlisting in the Air National Guard and going for basic training in San Antonio, Texas. He was very lonesome for his family and friends and me of course since I left in October 1958. He called every Sunday night. We only had one phone in the home and it was in the kitchen. I would spiral around into the Florida room to get some privacy but there was always someone around. I looked forward to the phone calls but sometimes they were disturbing the flow in my life. When I left NH we had not decided to only date one another. I know that he dated and had some blind dates and I dated some from Grand Way, not very interested or maybe I just wasn’t very interesting at this time in my life. One blind date I remember going for pizza, I couldn't stand the smell of pizza back then, it was all new to me. Now I love pizza.
In April, Dick visited us with my grandmother Marie. It was her first time flying and we picked them up in Miami. It was great to have someone to talk to again about teenage life.
My grandmother was a very wonderful lady but never had much to say, she was gentle and sensitive. Dick must have just come back from basic training in Texas and before going back to Granite State Packing he came to visit. I didn't go to my Junior Prom with Dick because he only stayed a couple of weeks. I asked the fellow across the street, can’t remember his name, which is okay, since it was an awful night. After we got to the dance, he just went and sat with the guys, I don’t remember dancing with him. My girlfriends and I did some. It was a very depressing night.
Jackie's 17th Birthday
3588 SW 1st Street
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The summer of 1959 I decided to surprise Dick with a visit to NH. I had already made arrangements with my grandmother to stay with her. I took a Greyhound bus and Dad lent me $50 for the ticket, I had to get a job during the summer to repay him and to get back to Florida for my Senior year.
When I arrived at Memere Marineau’s home at 31 Quirin Street, I immediately called Dick and hoped that he was free that evening. He came straight to the house. That summer we did everything possible, dancing, movies, mountains, lakes and even went to the Frolics in Salisbury Beach to see Johnny Mathis with Pauline Beaulac and Bob Lacombe. Dick spent all the money that he made but he said it was worth it. This should have been a warning for Dick that I wasn't a very good at saving money.
A few weeks had passed and I still hadn't really looked for a job, Dad was getting annoyed. I finally, got a job at Evangeline Shoe on Silver Street. I had to take 2 different buses and get up really early. It was always very hot in the shoe job. Oh, I had to lie to get the job and tell them that I was applying to work full time and that I was not going back to school. These things were very accepted in those days, many didn’t want to finish high school.
This was vacation time at the shoe shop and you worked for piece work, which meant that the more you made the more you got paid. The first job they put me on was cementing. I hated it and it was very frustrating to have the machine always breaking down. I felt bad for the full time workers, some younger than myself, I knew they were stuck here probably for life but I also knew that I was leaving at the end of the summer.
Because it was vacation time, they switched me from job to job. Which was great and less boring. My favorite was stapling bows on top of the dress shoes. I was good at it and fast. The floor man Mr. Lafrance liked me. When I told him I was going back to school, he was very happy for me and said that it was the right thing to do. He did not admonish me for taking the job for just the summer.
I gained a little weight that summer. It started with too many visits to Puritan for ice cream. One time my Aunt Madeleine sees me in the line I quote: “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips.” I got home and weighed in at 118 lbs. I wish I could weigh that now. She definitely had a negative effect on my self-image and after that incident I was very weight conscious. This kind of intervention even though jokingly can be very devastating for a teenager who is trying to keep things together. I was having enough trouble with our move to Florida, my studies and my lack of interest in everything? After all I was 17 years old, how much change can one experience without some ramifications. I was trying to keep it together as best as I could.To top it off, my great Uncle Arthur, visits my grandmother and tells me that I had a double chin. I was so flabbergasted. No wonder one of his sons ended up obese.
When I returned to Florida my Dad expressed the same thing that I had put on a little weight. Great, what a wonderful welcome home.
The picture above was taken at Memere Marineau’s during that summer, I think I look pretty good, I wish that I weighed that now. I remember my grandmother remarking that same night that I looked good enough to eat. I took that as a compliment.
Salisbury Beach Frolics
This wasn’t a great start for my Senior year. Somehow I managed to have grades good enough that I knew that I would be able to graduate in 1960. I dredged along and it was time to plan my Senior prom. This time Dick would be taking me.
Dick arrived in Florida in May a few weeks before the prom, he is to stay until after my graduation. He is with the family for 6 weeks. It became a family joke that Dick was taking sometimes 4 showers per day. One has to understand that Dick came from a poor family. He didn’t even have hot water coming out of the faucet in the bath tub, never mind a shower. He had to heat the water on the stove.
I had bought a beautiful long light blue gown and the best feature was the back of it, to be seen when you are dancing. I fell in love with it and paid for the dress out of my own money, $50. That was allot of money in those days. Dick rented a white sport coat with all the accessories. He also rented a brand new white convertible. This night was to be an all nighter, first the prom than movies & afterwards a beach party.
On the road getting to the hotel on the beach “Galt Ocean Mile”, we had to go through some railroad tracks at the end of Broward Blvd. There was a train coming but Dick doesn’t stop and I scream to him; “Are you crazy, you could have gotten us both killed.” He shrugged and said something like, your just like my mother, she was afraid of trains.
We went alone but met some of my friends and sat at the end of the table. Dick was shy around strangers, so I thought it best to seat us at the end, closer to the dance floor.
During the evening, we are alone, sitting and he takes out an engagement ring. I was not in the slightest way prepared for the proposal. Of course, I said yes. On our way home to change for the movies, we stopped on the side of the road, you get the picture, right. All of a sudden a paddy wagon comes to the rear of the car and tells us to step out of the car. He examines the situation and tells us that it was not wise for us to stop in this part of the city, that it was the homes of black people. He suggests that if we wanted some privacy to go to a drive-in movie. We get back in the car and Dick says that all the police officer wanted to do was check me out with his flashlight going back and forth. I was too much in shock to say anything.
When we arrived home to change, I went in my parents room to share the news about the engagement. I was on Dad’s side and he asked me: “Do you love him? I responded, well I really like him and he’s very nice.” As you can see from my response, I wasn't head over heals in love but we had developed a good and warm relationship together. Like a brother and sister but with sexual connotations. Remember the movie "War of the Roses" (1989) with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner? At the beginning their romance was "through the roof" and at the end every thing fell apart including parts of the roof. The relationship, the family, the home, everything was destroyed. Dick and I went to see the movie on New Year's Eve, not our best choice in starting the new year. We hadn't seen the previews. I remember seeing a few couples that we knew afterwards and none of us were smiling.
Back to Prom night.
During our all-nighter, we were getting tired, so we left the beach party. It was hard for me to mingle with a new boyfriend so we made the decision to leave early. This was no Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon beach party.
Jackie’s Senior Prom 1960
Graduation went on without much incident, I was just glad to be over and done with it. I had already applied and been accepted to go to business school. Drake’s business school in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The problem is that my parents somehow persuaded me to start with the Summer semester. They said that it would give me a heads start and that I would finish with a degree faster. I was on the GI Bill, so there was no cost for tuition, no room and board. Not sure about the books? I still had my 30 hour part time job, so again I was all set. Except the rest of the family went on vacation to NH and I was left alone. Bummer!
What happened to my nursing career? Well I became very disillusioned with the hospital scene. My friends & I, wanted to do volunteer work, candy strippers, we went asking if they needed help? This was in Ft. Lauderdale, we were told that we weren't needed. 55 years later, I am now a Hospice volunteer.
That was a long time to hold a grudge.
Class of 1960
Central Catholic High School
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
That summer my folks and siblings went to NH for their first visit. What was I thinking entering college in the summer? I could have gone on vacation and seen Dick and my friends? Well, I know I had just seen Dick but still?
So, I got through the first semester and it was boring. I hadn’t realized that I had to also take regular courses like English etc. My parents noticing that I was not happy with the whole situation and that I was now 18, suggested that if I wanted to, I could move back to NH on my own. This sounded pretty good to me and Dick was elated. After all, I was engaged and the date was set or was it?
Where would I live? With whom? Alone? Dick’s sister Rollande and her husband Roland offered me a bedroom and I accepted. So I made my plans and bought my train ticket and was all set to hop aboard on October 25, 1960. Date appx. Dick was to call me the day before I left, to give me the details of his picking me up. The day went by and no call from Dick. I was a little concerned and thought maybe, I had mixed up something. I call him and he tells me that his mother had died the day before, October 22nd and that he didn’t want the news to stop me from coming back to NH. I said, I’ll take a plane (I was afraid of flying), he said no, that he would be okay but I said that I would not get to NH for the wake. It’s okay at least you will be with me for the funeral. Poor Dick, only 20 and his mother gone.
When I left Florida, Mom was pregnant for Bobby. She was due in April of 1961. I felt awful, it was not a good goodbye. Many tears were shed by both of us.
It will take me 18 hours to get to Boston by train. My Uncle Ben was suppose to pick me up and I was to stay at their home for the time being. I have 2 suitcases, a cosmetic case and my big Westinghouse Hi-Fi, which I carry with me at all times. I remember being at Grand Central Station in NYC to change trains and the porter, he was black said to me: “How are you doing Miss Westinghouse”. I thought that was such a nice jester.
When I arrived in Boston, Uncle Ben was not there, one of his friends Paul Daneault drove me to my Aunt Annette’s and Uncle Ben’s. Dick arrived around 11 p.m. I remember going to the door to greet him, this was probably the most intimate moment that we had ever experienced together. Although it was a very sad time for Dick, somehow, love came flowing through both of us, it still gives me the warmest feeling. One doesn’t get moments like these often.
The next morning, Dick picked me up to go to the funeral home. Bouffard’s on Montgomery Street. I see his mother in the casket and she has the dress that she had on at Dick’s graduation. When she purchased the dress, she had said to her family, that she wanted to be buried in it. Odelie also said that she prayed that she would live long enough to see Dick make it to 20 years of age. Be careful what you pray for. Dick turned 20 a few weeks after her death.
Mr. St. Hilaire, Wilfrid kissed Odelie before the casket was closed. Later, Dick said to me that this was the first time that he ever saw his father kiss his mother. I was shocked because my Mom & Dad were always hugging and kissing in front of us kids.
In retrospect, I see that Dick’s parents went through many crisis in their married life. In 1937, they lost a little boy of 5 to spinal meningitis. This had to be devastating for the both of them and if not properly channeled can lead to even more suffering, which it did because Dick’s father hardly every spoke about anything. Dick told me that he was never close to his father but his mother he loved her beyond all others. Dick always said that he wished that he had done more for his mother, well that crossed over to me because Dick was certainly a good provider, father and caring person.
So we are all being called to enter cars for the funeral procession. I am to be with Dick but I never realized that I would be in the first car with his father. I was a little uncomfortable with all this and remarked to Dick but I don’t even have a black coat. Mine was beige, a soft leather like long coat but I did have a black dress that my Aunt Annette lent me.
I don’t remember anything after going into the car.
It was decided that Rollande was not going to take me in, losing her mother put her in a bad state of mind. Armand & Yvonne took me in until I could get my bearings and a job. They had 3 children at this time and gave me their master bedroom, which was beautiful and large. They took the children’s room and some of the children slept in the living room on an opened couch, which didn’t look too comfortable. Plus, I was not comfortable with the situation.
First things first I had to find a job and than an apartment. A friend of mine Rita St. Pierre found out that I was back in town. She worked for the dentist Paul Berube on Bremer Street, she told me that there was an opening in the office for secretarial work and because she knew me I got an interview with Gerald Berube an, oral surgeon. I remember going to Bremer Street on the 3rd floor where he lived with his wife and children. His wife was holding a very small baby in her arms, feeding him. Dr. Berube noticed that I had an engagement ring and asked when I was getting married, I told him that we had not set a date. I was hired on the spot and the only thing I remember was the pay scale, about $60 a week. Weds off and working mornings on Saturday. I was to do reception work and send out the statements. Hours 9-5.
I was looking for an apartment and found one in the center of town on Ash Street. It was a very large apartment complex and Yvonne said that it looked too spooky, she didn’t like the neighborhood.
Finally, I asked my great aunt Laura Hamel if I could sub-let her apartment on the 3rd floor of my grandmother’s house. So I took over paying the rent $8 per week and moved in all furnished and all. Aunt Laura spent her winter’s in CT with Gerry Hamel and his son Edward. Elaine his daughter was now married. Aunt Laura would return in the summer. Around this time Dick and I set our wedding date for August 12, 1961. We didn’t have much of a choice on the date because my Dad could only take his vacation in August.
Dick’s sister Irene lived on the second floor with her husband and their son Paul. I was very happy with the situation since it was walking distance to my job, like 5 minutes away. I’m sure my grandmother was happy that I was close to her. Memere Marineau, had had one of her legs amputated at this time and was having health issues, with diabetes.
I really didn’t have much time to miss my family in Florida. Dick and I went out to eat almost every night and we always found something to do with friends on the weekends. Mostly his friends, Bob Morin, Felix Catudal, Moe Lacerte & Paul Martineau but now and then some of mine, Elaine Poirier, Pauline Beaulac & Lee Gendron.
The holidays were coming and Dick & I bought gifts for his nieces and nephews and my sisters, brothers and parents. Christmas Eve we went to Memere Marineau’s home and my Aunt’s and Uncles were there and I remember having Champagne punch with ice cream. I must have drank too much because midnight mass was not that great and the next morning I had a hangover. Someone told me later that the more water you drink after you’ve had Champagne the worst the hangover. I confirm that.
I can’t remember Christmas, I’m sure we visited Armand and Yvonne and most of his side of the family
New Year's Eve, Uncle Armand (Dad’s brother) and Marie-Paule Chenard were married at Ste. Marie’s Church. My folks didn’t attend. Probably saving money for my wedding and the expenses of flying to NH. It was a very nice wedding and so romantic being on New Year's Eve. They were in their late 30’s. They made the perfect couple and all were happy that they had found someone to share their life with.
My Dad, Marcel had 3 sisters and 4 brothers. Lillian, Yvette, Anita, Lionel, Larry, (died in 1938 with his pregnant wife, during the hurricane, they were walking home from his parent’s home on Amory Street & a roof hit them) Raoul and Armand. His mother Marie-Louis was a homemaker and seamstress, his father Camille was a foreman in a shoe shop.
And they both lived happily ever after….
What’s all the fuss about getting married?
The date for our wedding is set for August 12, 1961. 10 a.m. Ste. Marie Church with my Uncle Maurice Richer officiating. Reception following at Alpine Club on McGregor Street. Photographer Rheault’s.
We were young and innocent, I was 19, Dick almost 21. We should have been more prepared mentally and emotionally for the future. Maybe, we were trying to escape from reality, maybe like all the fantasies & happy ending movies, we thought we could beat the odds. Maybe, just maybe we might live happily ever after. That is if nothing wrong happens & we just waltz through the years.
I looked at my parent's marriage and they were happy enough. I had plenty of experience with babies, housework, sewing & a little cooking.
I would learn as I went along.
Sometimes the cart gets ahead of the horse and where is my knight in shining armor? Another myth that I discovered later on.
Shopping for my wedding gown I went to Modern Bride with my maid of honor Elaine Poirier and my two bridesmaids Lee Gendron and Dick’s cousin Pauline Bernier. I told Elaine she didn’t have to choose the same style of dress as the bridesmaids. She did just that, a nice soft pink sleeveless chiffon dress. The bridesmaids dresses were light blue chiffon. The first dress that I tried on I loved it, tried a few others and went back to the first dress. I paid $110 and it was a size 12. The owner noticed I had an accent and he asked: “Are you from NYC”. I was surprised and it reminds me of when I was living in Florida and someone asked me if I was from Boston, I was happy about that since it showed that I didn’t have a French accent.
Working for Gerald Berube the dentist was good at the beginning. There were 3 practicing doctors in the suite of offices. Paul a dentist, Norman an orthopedic surgeon and Gerald the oral surgeon. It didn’t take long for me to get the statements sent out every month and I adapted well to setting up appointments. The only problem was that Dr. Berube was scheduling them so close to one another, that it became uncomfortable to watch people in the waiting room. I am talking about waiting a long time more that 30 minutes. This was very frustrating. When I called their name, I had to be cheerful and make them feel at home in the chair etc. It was very perplexing. Many of the phone calls to Dr. Berube were personal phone calls from a Realtor and that required much of his time. This also took time away from the patients and I told myself that he enjoyed the real estate market more than his practice. Gerald Berube had 2 rooms, one for the surgery and one for exams -fillings and a lab that was shared with his brother Paul.
Dr. Berube started training me to assist him with the surgery. He would put the patient to sleep with sodium pentothal, extract all their teeth and put in dentures. My job was to keep things clean during the procedure and take care of the patient while he/she was waking up. Well, I always wanted to be a nurse, so here I am all dressed up in a nurse's uniform, white stockings and shoes doing a nurses job without much training. After the patient woke up a little, we would move him/her behind a wooden panel in front of the back door. There the patient would recover because we needed the other room for other patients. If the board of health would have found this out, Dr. Berube would have been fined for improper care of his patients. My job after that was to keep them quiet, no moaning could be heard because the patients in the other rooms would wonder. What about Paul Berube’s patients? Gerald Berube could not have cared less. He was the most egoistic person that I had ever encountered.
The “fun” really began when we had children to put to sleep, it was my job to fully instruct the parents that the children could not eat anything from midnight on. The “shit” would hit the fan if one of the children vomited after being put to sleep. Dr. Berube used a mask and introduced ether to the patient and they fell asleep instantly. I held their hands together and prayed that all would be alright. It was quite a discovery for me to see all the happenings, it made the job very interesting but Gerald Berube was another matter. He was always frustrated, unhappy and unapproachable. I didn’t even go to him for my own dental work.
So I go to work everyday and go home for lunch. I am trying to lose weight. I only drink “Metracal” a chocolate diet drink, which I pick up at Michaud’s market along with chips and devil dogs. My Dad promised me $100 if I weighed 110 lbs by my wedding day. I never collected. On our wedding day I weighed the same as Dick 145 lbs. Most of my clothes were size 14 but I did manage to squeeze into a size 12 wedding dress, which the shop should have altered but didn’t. It was a bit tight at the bust line.
This is the start of my spiraling up & down as far as my emotions, weight & spiritual path.
What was I doing getting married when I had all these issues to sort out? I guess I took the easy way out & shared some of my burdens with Dick & he did the same, having lost his Mother the year before. Not the worst of scenario's to start a married life together.
At this point in my life, the spiritual path to me was keeping the rules and regulations of the Roman Catholic Church. Not that I didn't have an inner life but it had not matured enough for me to understand that I had to come to the realization that I was responsible for my inner life and had to let go of my attachment to the Catholic Church.
This enlightenment would come to me in 1974.
On April 19th Bobby is born in Fort Lauderdale. I couldn't believe he would be 4 months old when I got married. Mom was almost 42. A little while after Dad started to get sick. He was diagnosed with an ulcer. I remember seeing a picture (above) of my parents and Bobby on his Baptism day, Dad didn’t look too good, pale and had lost weight. Mom looked pretty good. Roger Carrier and his wife Loretta are the godparent’s by proxy. Friends from the old days at Granite State Packing. They would drive Mr. Shapiro’s car to Florida every year and made a vacation out of it and flew back to NH. I think Roger was like his personal assistant and also a meat cutter. Mom and Dad really enjoyed their company.
In the beginning years in Florida, we had numerous people visit us from NH. Some that stayed with us were newlyweds, Claire Laplante (Bob’s Laplante’s sister, my Dad’s best friend) and her new husband. It was a bit awkward for us, honeymooners with 7 or so kids around.
Mr. Mrs. Dussault, who lived on Quirin Street. A nice older couple but again, kind of strange since my folks never really socialized with them when they lived in NH.
Jocko Thomas and his family, a meat cutter from Granite State Packing. Nice guy, he was very impressed when I cooked dinner, Chinese Pie.
Back to our pre-wedding days. We did a lot of eating out at Roy’s Dinner on South Willow Street (now Cactus Jack’s) was my favorite. I always ordered a chicken club sandwich with onion rings and of course Tab.
With all the diet drinks that I have had all my life, I should be thinner. Now diet drinks are considered just as dangerous for weight gain as regular soda. Diet soda gives the pancreas the same reaction as pure sugar because it spike’s the insulin.
But we are a happy couple, doing our own thing and enjoying our lives and preparing for our wedding day. Notice I didn’t say preparing for our married life. So we have no financial plans made and I somehow convince Dick that we should have all new furniture. We set up accounts at Fournier’s Furniture and Sear’s Roebuck both on Elm Street.
This is fun, we pick out all the latest furniture, modern and even later on buy new linoleum for the kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom and wall to wall carpeting for the living room. What were we thinking? I can imagine how Dick’s family must have talked behind our backs. We are having the time of our life. The TV we bought at Sear’s because they had a good brand. It was black & white in those days but we ordered a pretty big one, not a console.
So we are paying on the furniture in weekly installments, months before we find an apartment. It’s a lay away plan but not really, because it was going to take us years to pay all this up, it was really the credit plan. The first of many credit plans.
Dick should have been more forceful and not given in, I’m sure he liked the new stuff, since his home was filled with very old furniture. Dick knew that I lived a different lifestyle than him, so he just got on board.
We were making pretty good money, so the future looked good. We both had life insurance policies, what could possibly go wrong?
So what happens when someone looks too happy? Jealousy, concern, who knows, other people come into the picture to give us their advice. My parents would have been furious if they had ever found out how many came to “rescue” us. I never told my parents.
Can’t remember who “attacked us first”, I’ll go to Ralph, Dick's brother because this happened on the night JFK was elected. November 1960. Dick and I are at Rollande’s and Roland’s home watching TV in hopes of seeing President Kennedy elected. We couldn’t vote in the election, we weren't of age. Well it was such a close race and no contest as of 1:30 a.m., when Dick & I left to take me home. Ralph had a fit and told Dick in no uncertain words that he better straighten out. No wonder I never liked Ralph, anyway, Dick took it all to heart. We had so much supervision with my living at my grandmother’s home, what was that all about?
Next came Aunt Florence, she is at St. Joseph Cathedral’s and wants to talk to me. She goes on and on about my life, saying that she didn’t think I was behaving in a proper manner. I cried and cried for over an hour, Dick was waiting in the car.
Before Aunt Florence died we had reconciled about the whole thing and she apologized to me, said that it was not her place to have done what she did.I had foriven her and moved on long ago but she needed to hear from me directly.
The Beaulac’s next door to my grandmother’s, parents of my friend Pauline, did the same thing, everyone was ganging up on us.
So what that Dick stayed in my 3rd floor apartment for an hour or so, we were engaged and his sister lived on the floor below us. Did they think we were going to take a chance and get caught?
The worst case scenario came from my Uncle Ben & Aunt Madeleine. They knew some people in Canada from “The Pius X Institute” and they had a special test for couples who were contemplating marriage. So Dick and I take the test at Uncle Ben’s in separate rooms. It’s a pretty long test. The results came a few weeks later. Telling us that Dick was not financially secure for us to get married and also not psychologically mature. I passed well, not in the financial part. In those days, it was the "man's" responsibility to take care of such matters. Right?
Now the Church sponsors "Engaged Encounters". A 44 hr weekend, where couples dialogue about their past, present and future. This would have been the perfect situation for Dick & I.
The priest at our church, Father Comtois gave us a heads up. The interview lasted about 5 minutes, probably because the only question he asked us was, are you planning to have children? Of course we both said yes simultaneously.
This is where the Catholic Church led us in the wrong direction. The procreation of children, like this is the most important part of married life and not the two individuals coming together in relationship. With the Church, it was always about the sexual act and the conception of children, have as many children as God planned. An idealistic life for sure, with the understanding that a wife should be submissive and never say no! Say no to sex or to love? There is quite a difference.
After much coaxing on my part, in 1974 Dick & I went on a Marriage Encounter Weekend and we finally realized after 13 years of marriage, the meaning of our marriage and that we (Dick & I) are the sacrament not the Church giving us the sacrament. It all made so much sense, not abstract or misunderstood, we (Dick & I) in our relationship bring Christ to others.
Who cares about contraceptives and the Churches teachings? Who cares that a body of men made the decision for my body? Who cares that so many children are born out of guilt or a mistake or as we now call it a "surprise"?
I care and many of us care enough to come forward and speak for those who have no voice and those who have been silenced and ignored.
My Dad, Marcel in the 1950's told me that one day in the future, maybe for my grand children, the Church will change it's views on contraception. Well officially in 1968, this almost happened. Mom was a very devote Catholic and she had the upper hand in this situation, well about contraceptives that is.
But now in 2014 most Catholics do not care to listen to what Rome has to say, they are making their own decisions. Bravo!
At the beginning of summer of 1961, Dick and I found the perfect apartment. Mrs. Pratte’s apartment building at 32 Quirin Street on the 2nd floor. Across the street from where I had been raised and was currently living. We were elated. Mr. St. Hilaire and Roland Rene (Rollande’s husband) painted all the rooms. The apartment had 2 bedroom, a large living room, large kitchen/pantry. I moved in about one week before the wedding, when my parents came for the wedding. They stayed the week before the wedding and the week after in our apartment. They said it was the best vacation that they had ever had together.
I am getting ahead of things. Elaine gave me a surprise bridal shower at her home. It was very nice. Phil gave us a double shower with a band, food and drinks for all. It certainly helped us financially because we were going to Florida for our honeymoon. I can’t remember how much money we received but Dick and I were very grateful for all the hard work that Phil and his family put into the affair, along with his brother Larry. Afterwards we went to the Catudal’s summer home.
The only low part of all the celebration is that I did not have my family with me to share the excitement. My parents would be coming alone for the wedding. Dick and I were planning to honeymoon in Florida, so I would see my brothers and sisters afterwards. I had to be content with that.
Mr. St. Hilaire gave us $200 towards a used car. I believe it was a 1954 Buick or Oldsmobile, it was turquoise and white.
The car would take us to Florida for our honeymoon.
August 12, 1961
It was a lot of work planning the wedding, my folks gave us $400 and we spent all of it.
I only got a bit nervous towards the end, putting all the pieces together. It really wasn't that bad.
When my parents arrived the nervousness departed and we all went to the apartment at 32 Quirin Street and settled down. I would be sleeping on the couch. They arrived a week before, so there was plenty of time to finish things up.
I told Dr. Berube that I needed 3 weeks vacation. One week before and two weeks for the honeymoon. He wasn’t too happy. He also was not coming to the wedding, what a surprise! He did send me to Brassard’s jewelers on Elm Street to choose my china and silverware. It was a trade, the
Brassard’s had dental work done, you get the picture. He was very generous, I had $100 to spend. Dick and I bought a 6 pc china set and a set of stainless steel forks, knives etc.
Dick’s sister Irene, ran some Popular Clubs the whole year before I got married. For $5 a week, I was able to get all our stainless steel pots and pans (they lasted 40 years) a few sets of very nice percale bed sheets, bath towels, etc. I had a "hope chest" which we bought with our bedroom furniture.
I had a nice array of honeymoon clothes and a beautiful Royal Blue 2 piece dress with white hat & gloves for “going away”. Of course I had my brand new luggage from the year before.
The morning of the wedding, I am sitting in our new apartment in a rocking chair, looking out the window I see Dick running towards his sister Irene’s house with his tux in his hands. (Afterwards, I found out that Dick had not tried on his suit until that morning and he was panicking, he didn't think it fitted right, it was all fine). Elaine and the bridesmaids came over for pictures (Armand took all the pictures of the day, except the professional ones). Elaine was a basket case, you would think that I would have been the one to get paid attention to but I was concerned for Elaine, remembering that she sometimes passed out during Mass. We rented a car from Phaneuf’s funeral home, it was only $5 and that was with a driver. Can’t beat that. Our flowers cost us $52. My bouquet alone cost $25, plus corsages and boutonnieres we did not buy flowers for the Church because there was another wedding at 9 a.m. and they told us that they would stay. We should have patched in but we didn't even offer.
Dad was very relaxed about the whole thing, which was a good thing because that helped me, I wasn't nervous at all, well almost. Mom was Mom always there in her gentle ways.
We stroll into the Church and Dad chatted with me on the way to the altar.
The Mass officiated by my Uncle Maurice Richer lasted 45 minutes. I don’t remember much about the ceremony, of course it was in French. I can’t remember the music on the organ, I’m sure it was the traditional wedding march etc. In those days the people in the pews didn't choose the music. Can’t remember if anyone sang?
Dick and I knelt in the sanctuary in front of the altar, with my Dad at my right side and Dick’s Father on the right, the two witnesses required by the Church.
Ceremony at Ste. Marie Church Top steps Elaine Poirier-Paul Martineau-Dad-Jackie-Dick-Mr.St Hilaire
Phil Catudal- Moe Lacerte
Bottom steps Lee Gendron-Pauline Bernier-Lou Guertin
Missing when picture was taken Bob Morin
200 guests seems like a lot but I had 3 sides of relatives coming. Marineau-Richer-Lesmerises and Dick had a lot of married cousins and nieces and nephews. We also had a good number of friends, besides the ones that were in our wedding party. My parents also had a lot of friends.
It was a hot muggy day and professional pictures took a long time. In those days, the bride didn't go for pictures before the date of the wedding. The reception hall was hot, just a large fan. Don’t ask me why I chose a wedding gown with long sleeves and a near winter dress for going away. I must have started to shop too late.
That week I had a cold sore above my upper lip. Dr. Berube, tried to medicate it but with all the hot muggy weather, it just got worse. This was the nicest jester that he gave me. Oh, his wife was in Church in the back, I spotted her on the way down the aisle. Her name was Teresa.
The reception was fast because we only had sandwiches etc. but we had an open bar and a 5 piece live band. So we had all the essentials for a great party. I had 5” heels and every time Dick would ask me to dance I would say go ahead and ask someone else, well most of the time.
Elaine caught my bouquet and off we went to change in our new apartment. We would leave that evening after returning to the reception to say our good byes. Returning to the reception my Dad had hired the band to play an extra hour, that was Dad for you, he loved to be around people and having been away for 3 years it must have felt good to be among those you love.
Upon leaving Dick’s sisters were crying, they were probably thinking how wonderful it would have been to have their Mother around. They also were a little nervous about our long car trip to Florida. After all this was their baby brother Dickie.
Destination Fort Lauderdale, Florida. So we take off in our 1954 Buick and didn't even have a reservation anywhere. We would drive until we got tired. We stopped in Framingham, MA for a nice steak dinner. We weren't of age so we didn't drink.
After dinner, Dick gets back on the turnpike, and all of sudden he sees signs for Albany, NY. Well, we were not suppose to be going in that direction. We decided to get off the highway, find a motel and check things out in the morning.
One of the nicest things that Dick said to me on our honeymoon was that first morning that we woke up together and lovingly saying that this was the best feeling ever, to wake up next to you.
We go to Church, it’s Sunday (remember we were very devote Catholics but we missed the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th) We get to a restaurant, check the map and we are about 90 miles out of our way. We go through the NY parkway, into NJ and we were on our way. It took us 5 days to get to Ft. Lauderdale. We only had one car problem, very minor fan belt, cost $3.50. We were so relieved.
My Mom & Dad got home from NH before we did. When we arrived, my sisters seemed to be a bit shy, they hadn't seen me in 3 years. I had brought my wedding gown and we have pictures of them around me. We stayed in Fort Lauderdale for about one week, we had my parent’s bedroom. It took us only 2 days to get back to NH. We were very low on money, we were lucky to get home, no credit cards then. Our first meal in our new apartment was a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli, which we had bought before leaving, good planning?
I remember when we went through Delaware, President Kennedy issued a call for all reservists. This meant that Dick would be activated very soon. The Berlin Wall was erected the day we were married separating East Germany & West Germany.
JFK and The Berlin Crisis (Summer of 1961)
The world would come to the brink of nuclear war over Berlin in the summer of 1961.
JFK met with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961.
Khrushchev tried to bully JFK, demanding that the U.S. completely withdraw from West Berlin by the end of the year, or there would be war between the U.S. and the USSR.
Khrushchev, the Soviets, and the East German government had been embarrassed for over a year by the flood of Eastern Germans who had been escaping to West Germany through West Berlin.
East Germany was in serious danger of depopulating if Khrushchev could not stop the flow of East German refugees to Western Europe through West Berlin.
JFK refused Khrushchev's demand that the U.S. abandon West Berlin.
JFK went on national TV, told the U.S. public to start building bomb shelters for a possible nuclear war with the Soviets over West Berlin, then ordered a massive build-up of the U.S. military.
The crisis over Berlin subsided in August 1961 when the Soviets built the Berlin Wall, separating East from West Berlin, cutting off the flow of refugees escaping into West Germany from East Berlin.
The Berlin Wall became a powerful international symbol of the failures of Communism, and the prison of the Communist world.
The Cold War ended in 1989.
Dick went on active duty in October 1961, it was for one year. We were one of the luckier couples. He got to stay at Grenier Air Force Base in Manchester and was a cook. His hours were good and he was still able to work part-time at Granite State Packing.
His brother Ralph was not so lucky. He had re-enlisted in the Army reserves, for extra money and he was sent to N.C. He left his wife Yvonne and 6 children behind.
Phil Catudal who married Pauline Charron in September 1961 had to leave NH, Pauline went with him.
So here we are with our furniture bills but the companies cannot force us to pay because Dick is on active duty. Sears gave us a hard time and it affected our credit.
By the end of 1961 I was 3 months pregnant and due in June 1962.
Our plans were now in the hands of the government
But we tried to place them in God’s hands
Things are moving along, my pregnancy is going good. Dick and I decide to paint his old bedroom set. We chose primary colors and bought new knobs. We left the walls pink.
My sister in laws are planning a baby shower for late April and I plan to stop working at 7 months and never going back “there”.
Some weeks before I leave Dr. Berube, I started training another girl. Rita Mailhot Gilbert, she is very good and fits in with the job well.
On Saturday, my last day, one of the patients asks me: “Are you due soon?”, I reply: “No, I’m only due in 2 months”. She says: “You look like you are ready to deliver.” I let it pass but I realize that I have looked a bit bloated the past few days but once I get home and take it easy I should be okay.
I had bought a brand new Navy Blue suit, flowered blouse and nice beige pumps & pocketbook. I was ready for Easter, which was the following day. That evening Dick and I went to Phil Catudal’s parent’s home, Larry was there and we all enjoyed one another’s company.
During early morning around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, I started having terrible pains below my stomach. Dick called Dr. Dupuis and he told Dick to give me some brandy to calm me down. Luckily, we had some Cognac. The pains persisted and after the next phone call Dr. Dupuis told Dick that I was in labor and to go immediately to the hospital. We couldn't believe it. I had 2 more months to go, this was not good but I was in such misery that I just shut it out of my mind.
During delivery, I remember Dr. Dupuis talking to the medical staff about the Red Sox. I couldn't believe that either, talking about sports during this situation. I delivered a baby girl and Dr. Dupuis tells me that she is still-born and that she is deformed. She weighed 2 ½ lbs. So this meant that I had carried a dead baby for a few days but it was never discussed. I was not as devastated as I could have been, I figured that I was young and that I would just get pregnant again. Dick told me later that he paid Phaneuf’s Funeral Home $10 so that they could bury her. She was buried at Mt. Cavalry Cemetery.
In June 2012 Dick and I with the help of the staff at Mt. Cavalry Cemetery tried to find the place where Linda had been buried but the staff couldn't find the plot #. They mentioned that since she had not been baptized that who would have been buried behind the fence, I felt tears coming.
We named her Linda. She was born on Easter morning April 22, 1962 almost one year to the date of Bobby’s birthday. She is now 52 years old. I remember telling myself that I would not have been able to take care of a deformed baby at this time. Sad but true. I was turning 20 the next month. I also thought that maybe, Dick and I doing all that painting in the winter with not much ventilation could have caused the deformities.
(I had one dream about our daughter Linda it was minutes before Dick died. I will share it when I get to 2012.)
Dr. Berube never called, sent a card and obviously didn't ask me to return to work for him. I am thinking, so what, who cares, I really never wanted to work there ever again. Many years later at a Charismatic retreat in Enfield, I met one of his former high school class mates. She told me that he had been jilted. That all during dental school, he had been dating a nurse and she left him. This is when I understood why he was the person he had become. He never let go of the past hurt. He will have to deal with this sooner or later, we all do. His wife Teresa died of cancer a few years ago. Dr. Berube later founded Gerber Dental. I believe he has a son and daughter who are in the dental practice. Still lives in his beautiful home on Coolidge Ave, custom made and very very private. It was built when I was working there but none of us were ever invited to visit. One story I remember Dr. Berube telling us is that Casey Stengel burnt a hole in the new rug. Must have been a Yankee fan? I worked for him from October 1960-April 1962. Not long but long enough for me to be careful on my next job.
In June one evening, Dick and I had just returned from a movie in Nashua and in the middle of the night I tried to get out of bed and couldn't walk. Dick called Dr. Dupuis and immediately told me to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with a bad appendix and had emergency surgery in the middle of the night. Dr. Tung, a new surgeon from China did the operation. My Dad was surprised that I had a foreigner for a doctor, I really didn't make the choice. The reason that Dr. Dupuis was able to diagnose me so fast was that his son Danny had had the same symptoms when he had his attack. Thank God.
So now I had to recover from surgery. I can’t imagine having gone through the birth of a child in June and than this surgery later that same month. Nature took care of itself as it usual does, all things worked for the better.
After recovering I really needed to search for a job. I had no driver’s license and would have to take the bus. I interviewed for another dentist but he didn't want to hire me because of my weight, he said that I wouldn't be fast enough. Which, was not the case I was always fast and precise at all my
jobs. I passed him off as just plain ignorant. Later on I found out that this particular dentist sponsored Vivian Lesmerises Vago at the Music Conservatory in Boston. Small world isn’t it? Dr. Stahl was is name, Jewish man and he had a brother who was also a dentist, both in the same building on Elm Street.
It was late summer and I finally got a job at a children’s clothing store as a clerk. Speer’s was the name and they were on Elm Street, next to Woolworth's. Mr. Speer, also Jewish was a very fine gentle man of about 50. He had an older sales lady, who had been there a long time, Ms Thompson, I believe. Between the two of them, I learnt how to go through a sale, very personal, outfitting children and such. I remember Dr. Dupuis’ wife coming in with 4 little boys, all dressed up with nice winter jackets. I think she wanted gloves for all of them. I wasn't embarrassed about my job but I wasn't that comfortable dealing with children etc. Could have been that I had just lost a baby.
It didn't take long for me to get pregnant again and I would be due around Memorial Day in 1963. Can’t remember when I left Speer’s, I’m sure months before the baby was due.
Dick was finishing active duty in October 1962, so he would have a pretty good income from Granite State Packing, we didn't worry too much about money. We had a pretty comfortable life, we had all we needed.
We didn't realize at this time that Dick being on active duty had effected our financial future. But, God will provide, so we thought. After all we were devote Catholics and that is how we were both brought up. We had a lot in common, both French-Canadian, both Roman Catholic, both high school graduates. What could the problem(s) be? We had already passed through some hurdles, hard ones but managed to pick ourselves up and march on. We were young and the future was way ahead of us.
We had one more big hurdle to jump, in late October the US was in conflict, called the “Cuban Missile Crisis”. My family was living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, very close to Cuba. That faithful night after listening to President Kennedy’s speech on TV on October 22, 1962. Dick and I went to bed praying that we would wake up the next morning.
Forty years later, our grandson Eric was born on that same date. In October 1962 I was already 2 months pregnant with Donna, Eric's mother.
I am not worried about this pregnancy, Dick and I have high hopes. In April, sister in laws, Irene, Yvonne (Armand’s wife) Rollande and Yvonne (Ralph’s wife). Somehow it is at our apartment. I’m good with that and why not, won’t have to bring everything back home and everyone can see the nursery. It was on a Friday evening and in those days you couldn't eat meat. After the table and all is set, my Aunt Madeleine comes in, always fashionably late and she has made egg salad on finger rolls. She goes to the table and starts straightening everything out to make place to put her dish. I remember how funny that looked and my sister-in-laws, giving one another that look. Oh! What can one expect, it’s Aunt Madeleine!
The Richer family came and all got together to give me a nice baby carriage-stroller. There was a doll sitting in the carriage with a hand made baby quilt that Memere Richer had made. It was beautiful and later on I lent it to Connie and never saw it again. Jackie, when will you ever to learn not to give everything away, which parallels with a lot of the giving that I have done all of my life. Now that I am in my golden years, I realize that I have to take care of myself first because I will not have anything to give to another.
The pictures of me sitting down 7 months pregnant are not the best pictures of me. I have a very nice black 2pc dress, very nice material but I have somehow managed to trim my eyebrows to almost non-existence. My family in Florida, didn’t even recognize me. That’s Jackie, what happened to her?
Mom sent a beautiful layette, white with little rose buds. It was the perfect going home outfit for our little baby girl, who was born on June 9th, 8:15 p.m. on a Sunday evening. “Sunday’s child is full of grace”. We named her Donna Marie, named after the woman full of grace the Madonna Mary. We covered all the bases on that one. His brother Armand and his wife Yvonne would be godparents. Yvonne was also pregnant at this time and it was decided that Dick and I would be godparents for their new baby. Marc was born on November 15, 1963. They had always wanted a Michael and so did we, so Armand and Yvonne never used the name, they saved it for us.
At this time, I am already 2 weeks late and Dick is watching a Red Sox game, this is a double header today. It is around 3:30 p.m. and raining cats and dogs. I start having contractions. Since I was 2 weeks late, Dr. Dupuis to go right in to the hospital. Labor could have been worse and it could have lasted much longer. Within 5 hours Dick and I had our baby. She was so beautiful and perfect. I thanked God.
We were 3 new mothers in the same room. I had the bed closest to the door. In the next bed was Irene Riel Cyr, this was her 3rd. Dick sent me a dozen red roses. Very nice.
Ste. Marie Parish-Rev. Raymond Lapointe
Irene-Ralph-Mr. St Hilaire-Rollande
My being the oldest of 8, I wasn't that worried about motherhood. I had done it all before. Being home a few months before she was born, gave me a chance to get things ready. I was well ordered and ready for our family life. I had always been in charge of finances, shopping, cooking, ironing, cleaning, the typical 1960’s housewife, this is how things were. I was following in my Mom and Dad’s footsteps. This is what I knew and I suppose what was expected. I had no bad feelings about it, I had hated my job with Dr. Berube and I hadn't really found anything else in the job market that I was excited about, so family life fitted in nicely.
The only real thing I had trouble with was getting up in the middle of the night for tending to the baby. I have always relished my sleep and needed a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This was no longer going to be the case, I wasn't very well prepared emotionally for this big change. After all, I didn't get up in the middle of the night when my Mom had babies. Somehow, I had pushed this aside. Dick was wonderful, since he had to get up early anyways, usually at 4:30 a.m., he volunteered to do that 3:45 a.m. feeding. I think it saved our marriage, just kidding! This way I was able to sleep until 8 a.m. or so. I still do.
At this time, Dick was now working for Elm Farm, they were a big market on by Demolas from Massachusetts. Elm Farm was situated right where the Verizon Center is now on Elm Street. I believe Demoulas are the owners Market Basket.
When Dick left Granite State Packing, he also left without insurance, since I was already pregnant for Donna. Elm Farm didn't pay. I remember the cost of the hospital was $300 and Dr. Dupuis charged $50. Later, we found out from Roger Carrier that Dick could have kept the insurance going. Nowadays it’s the law.
We did everything with Donna that we had done before she was born. We found babysitters to go out on Saturday night. Most of the time Susie. She was great and sometimes, many times, she would stay overnight and take care of her on Sunday morning. Paid her a little extra but not that much. She liked to babysit for the money and also enjoyed all the treats that we had in our home. Every Saturday, I baked a devil food cake for Dick. We usually went dancing at the Carousel, like before I got pregnant. Most of our friends were now married, Bob and Lorraine were engaged.
In addition we took Donna to restaurants, lakes, we didn't let having a baby stop us from living.
During the months after Donna’s birth, things were stirring up in Florida. It seems that Dad had gone to California to see some buddies and look for work. On his return he tells my Mom and the family that he wants to move to California. Mom, finally put her foot down and said to Dad: “If we move, it’s going to be back to NH.” At this time, she had not seen me for almost 2 years and she had a new grand daughter.
I was ecstatic and Dick was happy to, he loved my family. I can only imagine how the next two months went? Selling their home, getting everyone to leave with them. Ed had just graduated from the same school as I had 3 years before. Changed the name from Central Catholic High School to St. Thomas Aquinas. (The school was run by Dominicans).
Everyone was on board and with two cars loaded with an attached u-haul on my parent’s little Rambler, they were on their way back to NH.
Ed, Gerry and Don arrived first, of course, they had no little ones with them. Dick and I had the nursery ready for them. Donna was still sleeping in our room in a bassinet, the same bassinet that Mom had used for her babies. I had just changed the bedding & the skirt around the basket, it was white nylon with little yellow flowers.
So, we are all glad to see one another and everything seems to be going good, they settle in and we prepare ourselves for the arrival of the rest of the family. Mom, Dad, Susie, Connie, Judy and Bobbie. I can’t imagine all of them squeezed into that little car?
The night they were to arrive, I get a phone call from Mom, they are in CT and had just gone through some awful traffic. They would not be getting in that evening. Dick and I had the whole living room ready for them to sleep, knowing that they would arrive late but they came in the next morning. Of course, Dad had his migraine.
It was all set up for them to live at my Aunt Laura’s apartment, she was now living in CT. To this day I don’t remember how they all fit in that tiny apartment and how long my older brothers stayed with Dick and I.
All I know is that there would be schools to set up for the young ones and high schools for Gerry and Don.
Susie was enrolled at St. Joseph Jr. High, Connie and Judy at St. Joseph’s elementary and Gerry and Don Central High School. All schools on the East side.
Dad couldn't get back into the Fire Department, he was now 43 years old. He went back to meat cutting at Granite State Packing. A sense of failure began to spread in Dad's psyche.
Mom and I started to look around for them to buy a house. We found some really cute ones. One house on Hamblet Street, off of Somerville St., another on Mast Road in Manchester and Garden Street off of Calef Road. But, Dad wanted to have nothing to do with another house to take care of.
So we started searching for apartments. Well, what kind of apartments could you get with 7 children and who would want to rent? I remember one apartment house on the East side on the 3rd floor, it was spacious enough but Mom was getting pretty discouraged and who could blame her.
Somehow, it was decided that the family would move into Uncle Fern’s and Aunt Madeleine’s apartment at 641 Union Street, after the Houle’s moved into their new home on Lakeview Lane.
Aunt Madeleine was pregnant for Vickie at this time and delivered her in November 1963. She was still pregnant when the moved. I remember helping her out at 641 Union Street, bringing Donna with me and fixing a tuna casserole dinner for everyone. Her sister in law Yvonne Houle, was also with me and I remember she had on high heels and a dress. So, Aunt Madeleine comes home right before dinner is ready and starts giving orders like you should put a toothpick on the teapot, so it doesn't whistle etc. etc. Same old, same old. Anyway, somehow we all got through the ordeal. Mom, must have gone with her to the new house.
641 Union Street met all their needs, physical anyway but not good emotionally. They would pay $200 a month including heat, well, they owned More Heat, Inc. So what, it was still a good deal. On the first floor was a large kitchen, very small living room and large master bedroom. A bathroom with washer and dryer hook up. The second floor had 2 large bedrooms and a full size bathroom. The basement was heated and it had big sink and shower stall. In the front of the house was a nice porch off the living room but a lot of traffic. In the back a nice 2 stall garage, a lot of cement for parking and a clothes line.
One thing, that the Houle’s did not do was re-paint, add new floors or any other work. It was understood that the Lesmerises family would be in charge of the snow plowing.
My Dad, never really liked Madeleine, Fern was great but Madeleine and the kids, they used Union Street has a stopping ground for everything.
Needless to say these were very emotionally times for everyone but I had my family back and I pushed on and tried to keep things civil.
Since Dick’s Dad was living alone, we had him over pretty frequently. Can’t remember too much how he mixed in with all these goings on. He didn't talk much, so one never knew what he was thinking. I stopped trying to get him to talk. I just talked around him.
With all this going on, I find out that I am pregnant again. This is early December and I am a couple of months pregnant. During the night of December 8th, I started to hemorrhage, Dick calls my Mom, and Susie comes over to watch Donna, while he takes me to the hospital. I am bleeding profusely, going down the steps, I look back and there is a trail of blood. When I get to the hospital I am very weak, they situate me in a room and I can feel myself passing out, I think I am dying, I ring for a nurse, she calls a doctor and they give me a quick shot of something. They wheel me into emergency surgery and I start coming to consciousness and hear 2 nurses talking to each other, one nurse saying: “I can’t feel her pulse.” I am very cold under a few blankets and say to myself: “Hey, I’m here, I can hear you”. Then I go under again.
No one ever talks to me about this whole incident, only that the doctor had performed a D&C. Later, I always thanked Mary who saved my life, on her feast day.
This is not the only time in my life that Mary has come to the rescue. These I will share in 1966 & 2011.
I recovered quickly both emotionally and physically, after all I had a family now and they needed me and I also had my whole other family this Christmas.
Memere Marineau's Home
Our first Christmas has a family of 3 was wonderful. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year for me and I pulled out all the plugs. Plus, a special bonus this year of having my family to celebrate with. Needless to say it was pretty hectic on Union Street but all in all I was happy with it all.
All this time my Dad is getting more depressed as time goes by. He is back in the same rut that he was in before moving to Florida but probably realizes that he had his chance(s) and he had failed. Failure is not accepted with this former Marine and this is a spiraling that will never be conquered, not in this lifetime.
The first 3 months of this year, I am having serious heath issues. I am constantly showing signs of hemorrhaging and the doctor sets up a D&C procedure for April.
In March, my grandmother Marineau has been told that she needs to have her other leg amputated. She refuses the doctor’s advice and they decided to do a procedure in the arteries situated in the legs. The operation is a success. I am at Dr. Dupuis’ office for a consult and he told me exactly the same thing. But, something went wrong, while eating breakfast, still in the hospital recovering, she has a heart attack, her kidneys start failing and she dies on March 10th. The weather, is unbelievable, a North-easterner and Mom & Dad couldn’t get into their car, the doors were frozen. Memere was in early 70’s. Diabetes had caused her health to deteriorate and her father Louis Girard had died of the same disease, gangrene, with his leg also amputated.
This a condition that struck both grandmother’s. Memere Richer however, was able to get off the insulin with a proper diet. She lived until 1979. 80 something. I remember when Memere Richer had her first heart attack at 73 and said, she wasn't ready to die, and that her mother (Boisvert) had lived until 95. She was determined to reach that age. I myself have been diagnosed has pre-diabetic. My glucose has always been borderline but lately in the numbers have been in the 80’s, since I have dramatically given up sugar and sugar products. My blood pressure has also improved because of this change. However, I still have to lose weight, not good all around to be overweight at any age.
March 10, 1964 has always been a sad date, which I remember every year. I remember my last visit to see her and she looked up at me and just said my name Jacqueline lovingly (in French of course), she never called me by my nick name and always spoke in French. The day that she died there was a big blizzard, Mom told me that when they got back to their car all the doors were frozen. They had the nice Turquoise Rambler station wagon.
Memere and Pepere Marineau were my Grandparents and also my Godparents. One Christmas Pepere made me a “creche”, I still have it and Lisa and her family will one day place it in their home. When our family still lived on Quirin Street, the 3rd floor apartment was getting too small and I slept downstairs’ and my grandparent’s. The room of the kitchen in the back. I didn't mind and I don’t think my grandparents did either.
During this time Dick changed jobs again and went to work for Mr. Morin at Morin’s market. We didn't forget to keep the medical insurance going, it was about $4 a month. Dick also could have had a job at Alexander’s for the same salary but he chose Morin’s Market even though he had to work more hours.
Kelley Street-Manchester, NH
Dick 1st on right
Mr. Morin 1st on left
Mr. Morin really liked Dick and Dick was good with the customers, one on one, it was the perfect place for him because he liked people. The pay was the same as Elm Farm but a few more hours. Elm Farm was very production oriented and Dick wasn't that kind of a worker, so the change was good all around, he was less stressed and never complained about his work.
In April, I entered the hospital to have the D&C, when I awake, a religious at the other end of the room, tells me that I’m pregnant. I said: “Are you saying that I’m going to have a baby?” Yes, she answered. To this day, I don’t’ understand why she was the one who had to tell me this very unbelievable news. So, Dr. Dupuis later tells me that before he started the D&C, he decided to give me an internal and low and behold finds out that I am pregnant. I am put on bed rest and hormone pills. Donna is about 8 months old, how am I suppose to get bed rest. It must have been difficult to keep up with her but somehow I must have got a lot of help from Dick, I’m sure of it, just not remembering, it was quite a shock and I was a bit scarred to lose the baby.
Somehow, the pregnancy was going well, I must have stopped bleeding etc. I also find out that my Aunt Annette is also having a baby. Can you imagine that at the time of my grandmother’s death, we were both pregnant and didn’t know. Her daughter Anne was born in September.
Joanne was a perfect healthy baby born on October 28th 7 lbs. 3 oz. I always call her my miracle baby even though I know deep down that all babies are miracles, this is a pretty big one.
By October 28th, I was again about 2 weeks late, I felt good and for dinner I had a sub sandwich from the restaurant next to Morin’s Market, where Dick was now working as a meat cutter on Kelley Street.
I went into labor a little bit after dinner, so all in all Joanne was born within 3 hours of my getting to the hospital. There is about 16 months difference in Donna and Joanne’s age. I was happy that we had another girl and Dick also, Dick was never into the whole thing of having to have a boy to prove his manhood.
If I can remember right, Dick had our car at the Tire place on So. Main Street and that is where he was when Dr. Dupuis called him around 8:15 p.m. that I had a girl.
Dick and I had a hard time choosing a name for our new baby girl. The hospital told us we had to come up with a name before I left the hospital. Joanne Suzanne St. Hilaire. It was a perfect choice. My brother Ed and my sister Susie would be the godparents.
By this time, Donna was in a crib in her own room and Joanne in the bassinet in our room. Somehow, Joanne never took the milk formula and at 3 months old, I put her on whole milk. She was fine after that.
We were pretty busy with our growing family but happy in our apartment which was still more than adequate for our family. We had a lot of bills and I can remember the bill collectors calling. It was a nuisance but a fact of our life. With 2 small children there was no way that I could work. There were no night part time jobs at this time. So we settled into our family life and made the best of it. We always had plenty of food and we really were not lacking much except during this time we didn't have a car. The 1954 Oldsmobile had finally died on us. Morin’s Market was in walking distance for Dick and I didn't have my driver’s license. On weekends we walked to Ste. Marie’s Church, and Irene came to baby sit at our apartment, usually for 11:30 a.m. mass. If we needed a car, we could always borrow Dick’s father’s car, he lived across the street on Rimmon Street, 3rd floor, in Mrs. Peruse’s block. Nice apartment. I’m not sure when Mr. St. Hilaire moved out of 166 Cartier Street? I’m sure Dick made all the arrangements with his father. Dick’s father was a terrible driver, we all asked ourselves, how come he had not lost his license.
I really never felt overwhelmed with being a mother of 2 young ones, I pretty much took it all in stride. Taking care of the apartment, shopping etc. We were very happy, busy and content with our family life.
When Donna and Joanne were about 1 and 2, I would go to Livingston with her and Connie, Judy and Bobby. Those were nice days and I cherished them. Mom and I both liked to sew and we would often times go shopping for fabric together. One Easter, we really went to town, we made nice outfits with the same fabric but all different colors. Blue, pink, purple, green. Skirt with matching jacket and pants. We were very proud of our efforts.
Dick and I continue to see friends, family and gather for celebrations and the holidays. The holidays at 641 Union Street were hectic but it was nice to be with my sibling once again. But things were not good with Mom & Dad.
Dad now worked at Kniager’s off of Elm Street. He hated his job and his life. One of his very revered friends said to him one day: “If you are so sick of your life, how come when you cross the street, you still look in both directions?” His last name was George Francis. This was one man that Dad had a deep respect for, I’m sure he mad an impact, enough that Dad recounted the story to either Mom or myself.
Our Christmas at 32 Quirin Street with our 2 daughters, Donna & Joanne was joyful, going to my folks house around 1 p.m. became a family tradition.
Dick’s family had never really celebrated Christmas, sometimes they didn't have a Christmas tree. I remember Dick saying that the only Christmas he really remembered was when his brother Ralph gave him a full cowboy suit and gun. He was elated. Ralph was Dick’s godfather. His godmother was a friend of the family from CT, her name was Gilberte.
Family living went on without any more health emergencies. Between the pregnancies and being on so many diet regiments, my body never really healed. The saying around town was that Dr. Dupuis was a pill pusher. Beside diet pills (amphetamines) and birth control pills, I had my share of the lot. It surprised me that a Catholic doctor would prescribe a birth control pill but he told me it was a treatment for balancing my hormones. At 23 years old, who was I to question. Much later in the early 70’s I started reading up on it and found out that birth control pills could have many effects on your health, like strokes.
Mother's Day 1965
To help with the family finances I went back to work. At this time I had my driver’s license and we had this nice little car Chevy II, my own personal choice, no big car or a standard for me.
Working outside the home during the day was not easy, I had to find baby sitters for Donna and Joanne. Claire Provencher across the street was the perfect choice. She lived on the first floor and by that time Dick's sister Irene lived on the second floor. Claire was already babysitting a slew of kids and was clearing $100 per week, which was a lot of money in 1965. what would 2 more matter? Dick made a little beyond that but she also had a large family of 6 children. The only thing was that her husband was very demanding and all children had to be picked up before he returned home from work, he was a fireman.
A new grocery section of Forrest Hills on McGregor Street opened up and I got a full time job. Now this was new for NH folks, a store selling hard goods and food at the same time but separate owner-ships. There also was a snack bar. At first it was really bustling, we did good business and people were impressed with the stock. As time went by, after the initial sales etc., some kept on coming but many returned to their original food markets. Eventually the grocery section closed but I had to leave before because Claire was having a difficult time with Joanne, it seems that she caught all the colds that came around and cried most of the day.
Dick had a meat cutter friend who was the meat manager at Mammoth Mills and he was always offering Dick a job opportunity. The pay was a little better, so Dick quit Morin’s Market and went to work at Mammoth Mills. The meat room really impressed him, it was big, it took over half the second floor and it was kept very clean. Dick loved the idea of having more people to work with in his trade and also liked Lou Gillemette, a jolly Canadian, who Dick admired.
So I was back home with Donna and Joanne but our finances were still not the best. There was an opening for a cashier at Mammoth Mills which I applied for and got the job. Pauline Catudal, who had that time lived on Dix Street on the 3rd floor agreed to babysit the children. By that time she and Phil had 2 of their own. During this period is when I started collecting my ceramic nativity figures, Pauline made them all, they cost $5 per statue and were custom made the way I wanted, no colors, just white with a satin coating.
It was not easy for me to get the children and myself ready, walk up 3 flights of stairs, pick them up etc. Mammoth Mills was the busiest grocery store that I had every worked at but the time flew by. I was fast and good at my job but the drudgery of all of this started to affect our family relationship. It was hard for all of us to get home, get supper on, wash and dry clothes. I remember that I had to ask Dick to do numerous things around the house, like cleaning out the refrigerator etc. He never said no but that I had to ask was getting on my nerves.
During the time when Dick was at Mammoth Mills, he tried to get my Dad to work in the meat room. Dick had it all set up and when push came to shove, Dad never showed up. We found out later on that he had to deal with phone calls and he never was one to do business on the phone.
Christmas circa 1965
32 Quirin Street
I quit my job at Mammoth Mills and stayed home with Donna and Joanne. By this time the rent was $11 per week. But, I was getting antsy for a home of our own. Dick liked the idea and we started house hunting, after all it would be a good investment for our future. On Dick’s side of the family no one even had a checking account, never mind a home of their own. We found some nice possibilities in the Pinardville area. I couldn't believe that Dick living in Ste. Marie Parish all his life, that he would consider moving to Pinardville but he was all for it.
There was a home on Agnes Street that we liked and during this time Dick was talking to the bread man at Ferretti’s (Mike Miville) and he told Dick that the same builder was building new homes on Tondreau Ct for about the same price. Mr. Gamache was the builder, Tondreau Ct was the last development that he built in Pinardville, he named the street after his wife. At this time he was building the last house on the Court and yes, for almost the same price as the house on Agnes Street. It was a no brainer, we fell in love with the home and so far there were no takers. We loved the area, the privacy where our house was situated and the neighbors, almost all with a growing family. We talked to the builder and he suggested that we get pre-approved. The house was selling for $14,000. We were approved for a VA loan and only need $200 for closing.
I started to make drapes for the bedrooms and curtains for the kitchen. Choose colors and we made a few suggestions for the builder. Like a ceramic tub enclosure with sliding doors and a dryer hook up. We also asked for a stainless steel built in stove with matching hood. Mr. Gamache was getting a bit concerned about having to raise the price to $14,700. He said that if we didn't end up buying the home, he might have trouble selling it. He drew the line when I asked for shutters to be placed in the opening between the living room and kitchen, said that would be draw a lot of dust.
In 1984 our family bought a Chrysler mini-van, the first of it's kind for the same exact price as our first new home in 1966. $14,700.
And the dream goes on or does it?
We were living the American dream, well not in the Hippie, peace movement way, but the status quo.
Did we know what vicious cycle we were in, apparently not, we just kept getting deeper and deeper in debt.
When we applied for our mortgage loan, we had to be debt free and we were but after we moved in, we pulled out all the plugs and even bought a brand new car a 1967 Pontiac, blue the same color as the house.What in the world were we doing?
The mortgage payment was $125 per month, including taxes. A big jump but we were so happy to be in our new home. Our furniture fit it well and was only 5 years old. Donna and Joanne’s room was nice in pink and they both slept in 2 different looking cribs and had the primary color bureaus that Dick and I had re-furbished a few years ago.
The home had 3 bedrooms, living room and large eat in kitchen. We painted it Apricot. The bathroom was all pink with pink ceramic tile surrounding the bath tub area.
Our home was situated on top of a little hill but we had no neighbors in the back but there was a large ditch. I remember Dick saying that his Mother would have been terrified, raising her family with that ditch. The kids grew to love it, even though they were told not to go there. The back of the yard was all gravel, and there were not that many trees on the property. I love trees and was disappointed that most of them had been bulldozed. There was a bit of grass in the back about 15 feet. A nice slopped lawn to one side, which gave us a little privacy.
We had a nice spare room which we painted French Blue, I made the drapes to match along with the cushions for the rocking chair. Mr. St. Hilaire was going to live with us, this way he would have a place to live and we would have extra income. Mr. St Hilaire also gave the $200 for our closing costs.
Mr. St. Hilaire was not a very talkative man and he only took a bath once a week. I remember telling Dick, that it would be nice for him to take his bath on Saturday morning, so that I could clean the bathroom afterwards, he always left a ring around the tub. Heh! I was only 24 years of age and oh, by the way pregnant again.
Mr. St. Hilaire was diabetic and I would watch him load his coffee and cereal with so much sugar it was hard to keep my mouth shut. I lost the baby within a month of moving, a girl.
Mr. St. Hilaire moved out shortly afterwards. He moved to Dubuque Street, I felt a little sad but comforted myself by acknowledging that I had done my best and also that Mr. St Hilaire had 2 sons and 2 daughters that could have taken him in.
Well, with a home you also need extras, like a lawn mower, water hose etc., so I got an extra part-time job in the evenings at Bradlees a retail store. This was in the Fall when they hired extra help. I really wanted a cashier’s job but there were no openings. My boss Ed Pouliot was a nice guy and I was put in the women’s section folding sweaters etc. I was also in charge of the changing room. It was pretty boring. After the holidays Mr. Pouliot offered me the job permanently but I said no because it wasn't a cashier position. A side story that I never told anyone. Remember I told you how Mary would intervene for me in 1966? Some evenings I had to take the bus to go to work at Bradlees. Dick must have been working late and probably Carmen Dionne came to watch Donna and Joanne. It is a cold night, I remember I had on a long winter coat. This car pulls over at the bus stop on Mast Road and these two guys ask me where I was going and do I want a ride? One of them opens the back door and I get in, he gets in with me and puts his arm around me. I am getting pretty nervous and know that I have made the wrong decision but it is too late. I pray to Mary to get me there safe. Silently saying the Hail Mary. I was never so grateful in my life to get there with no incident.
New Year's Eve 1966
Sitting lf-rt Sue Richer-Arlene-Mom-Jackie L-Pauline
Dick changed jobs again, this time Ferretti’s on Hanover Street. He made pretty good money. During this time I also found a full time job at Ferretti’s as a cashier on Elm Street, where we now have the Verizon Wireless Arena.
I can’t remember who babysat Donna and Joanne. Well, nevertheless is was just too much for the whole family situation, again with the extra housework etc. I quit working full time, vouching to never try that again. We would just have to be more careful with our finances.
But it proved to be futile. So I was able to get a part-time job at Ferretti’s, same store. I worked a few nights, a few Saturday nights and some Sunday’s. Double time. The pay was pretty good. Dick would leave work at 5:00 p.m. and I had to punch in at 5:30 p.m. I barely made it in time to punch in within the 5 minute allotted time to get docked in pay. The job was good and eventually I would be a head cashier. Claire Talty a very nice lady was the head of all the cashiers, with scheduling etc. We liked each other, she was a very Christian lady and worked hard to keep her family grounded, they lived in the Elm Street projects close to Blessed Sacrament Church.
Donna and Joanne were not lacking in friends, there were numerous in our neighborhood. The Dionnes, The Prud’Hommes, The Doucettes & The Leclercs.
Dick and I were very friendly with Jeannine and Roland Dionne. The whole neighborhood were parishioners of St. Edmond Parish. One of the reasons we moved on Tondreau Court was that Donna and Joanne would be in walking distance to St. Edmond School. All in all we had made very good choices.
Summertime, the neighborhood kids would all go to Roy’s Pool, that was the best of times for Donna and Joanne. They both took swimming lessons and there were always 4 lifeguards at the pool each day. The only thing was that they all had to cross Mast Road but they were a bunch of kids, and it was pretty safe to be in numbers. Sometimes I would join them at the pool, but this wasn't necessary, they were pretty much on their on, they didn't need any supervision as long as they listened to the rules from the lifeguards.
"Those were the days my friends, I thought they'd never end"
Since, I worked part-time this was my time to get things done around the house and prepare dinner for the family before I left for work. I always had food on the table and a clean house, I had a well ordered life and this caused less tension all around. I would take time out for myself and read magazines and sometimes took a small nap.
Dick and I at some point bought a 3 ft pool/ filter and ladder for our own backyard. I think we kept it for a year or so and sold it, it was too much work.
In the wintertime, Dick made a skating rink in the back yard. We had many happy times in the winter skating and on Friday nights Dick would have some guys over to play hockey.
These years were good times for our family, even though we had financial debt, we seem to be on top of things.
Little by little I was gaining weight, one year I would lose it, the next thing I knew I would be gaining again. It was a vicious cycle, like our finances. At my highest during these years about 170 lbs. Lowest 140 lbs. In late winter of 1968 I lost another baby, I had barely just found out I was pregnant. The baby was a boy and we called him Michael. I am pregnant in the picture below.
Religion to me was going to Church every Sunday ( and feeling guilty when you missed for no good reason) and loving your neighbor. My motto: “Do unto others, what you would like others to do unto you”. I believed that I had to do good and be good to get to heaven. Heaven would be a place of bliss. Purgatory was to erase my small sins (venial sins) and Hell was for the evil people (mortal sins). I was always on pins and needles about my self, about how much good did I have to do etc. I was petrified of dying. I believed that since I had overcome death many times, so far, that I probably would life a long life and pushed death aside. I believed that there was a time and date all set up for the day that I would die and that God wouldn't let me die, since I had 2 children and a husband to care for. God hadn't let me die so far, so I was pretty certain that I would live a long life.
I had had 12 years of Catholic education and that was that. I had all that I needed or wanted, as far as knowing my religion (intellectually that is). A view that I changed many years later.
I can’t remember the particular years that Dad tried to commit suicide at least two times to my knowledge and he had to be committed to a mental hospital. This was a large factor in my Mom’s mental health. I know that my brother Don found him in the red Impala convertible at least one time, so if he was still living at home it was in the late 1960’s.
In those days the VA pushed so many drugs on my Dad that I can understand how mixed up he was. The Concord hospital even gave Dad shock treatments .
By the end of the 1960’s, Ed, Don and Susie had all gotten married. Don and Susie two weeks apart in August of 1969, Gerry had to wait until 1970 because it was just too much for the family expense, Gerry and Judy chose February 14, 1970. I don’t know how we all got through these events but somehow, we all went through the motions. A wedding is time to celebrate and we all put on our best faces. But family life at 641 Union Street was deteriorating.
The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius
Doing our own thing
Joanne & Donna
Mom worked part time at Derryfield Market on Union Street, in the early 1970’s a block away from where they lived. If Dad drank too much, he would start accusing her of dressing up too nice and flirting without other men. Ridiculous, Mom was too busy trying to keep the peace at any price at home. Mom bent herself backwards but to no avail. It was during this time in 1970 at the age of 50 that Dad got his full pension from the government and about $10,000 in retro. Mom & Dad bought new furniture, living room set, dining room set, stereo, sewing machine. Dad also took gambling to a higher level and pretty much sat around all day and watched TV. Mom said that when it was time to vacuum the carpet in the living room, Dad never got up, she had to go around him. Never mind that Mom did everything for the three remaining children at home, Connie, Judy & Bobbie, Dad hardly lifted a finger. Instead of helping out or like I am found of saying “sharing” all the responsibilities, Dad just added to their problems.
Ste. Marie Parish
Dance Hawaiian Style
In 1971 Mom & Dad’s 25th anniversary, I collected $25 from each sibling (except the 3 youngest) and we had all my parents, brothers, sisters, spouses and friends meet us at “The Carousel Ballroom” for dancing, their favorite Saturday evening social (well in the 1950's that is).
We started the evening on Union Street with all the siblings, each couple brought their wedding glasses for toasting and we found a set for Mom & Dad. It was as nice as could be expected, everyone was on their best behavior.
After the Carousel, we all gathered at our home for drinks and a buffet and cake to top the celebration. We were able to give Mom and Dad a nice hooked rug for the living room.
All in all we did the very best possible to mark their 25 years together. Their already rocky marriage barely lasted another 2 years.
Lake George NY
Dick's 30th Birthday-1970
79 Tondreau Ct.
Connie’s High School Graduation
Jackie & Uncle Armand
Dick and I at this time were doing okay, no big traumas, except trying to keep our family happy and dealing with my Mom’s declining mental health. She was losing a lot of weight and not because she was dieting, it was all stress related. I wished that the family could have had counseling, in those days, we didn't even know that such a thing existed. Now we no better but it didn't take our family long to start taking sides and most of us chose Mom. After all, this wasn't her doing, Dad’s suicidal tendencies, gambling etc. Why should she end up like him and which was exactly what was happening. The old saying: “Misery loves company”, is so true and Mom being the good Catholic was married until death do us part.
Mom started distancing herself from the situation, after all she had to keep her sanity and she had 3 children to raise. Bob was 10 years old, Judy and Connie teenagers.
When my cousin Lorraine got married, my Mom, her children and Dick & I were all at the wedding, when Mom received a telephone call from the VA Hospital that Dad, who had just been operated on was not doing well. I seem to remember that the hospital was not to pleased to have had to find the family at a wedding during these difficult days. Dad had been operated on for perforated ulcers and it was very serious. I never spoke about all this to anyone, so I really have no idea how anyone felt about this whole situation.
Dad came home and now Mom was caring for him along with 3 children. Mom at this time was 50 years old. I remember when she was 48, she had a hysterectomy, the doctors had found cancer cells in her cervix area. The cancer never returned. I kept calling the hospital because no one was keeping me informed. I sent a dozen red roses to Mom at the hospital and put on the card, from the children. I knew that Dad was too self involved to call me never mind send Mom flowers. Connie, Judy & Bobbie were sent to relatives for about 2 months, so that Mom could have a full recovery. The other adult children were still at home, Gerry, Don & Susie. Ed and I were married. Connie stayed with her Uncle Armand & Aunt Marie-Paule, Dad’s youngest brother. Judy stayed with Dick and I and Bobbie went to Aunt Madeleine’s and Uncle Fern’s. They had 6 children of their own. Bobbie always said that he had the worst deal and Judy said to me recently that she got the best deal. Connie mentioned that it was a bit awkward for her, she wasn't close to her aunt and uncle and they had 2 small children of their own. Charlotte and Jocelyn. They would have been about 5 & 6. About the same age has Donna & Joanne. Uncle Armand & Marie Paule married late in life on December 24, 1960. 7 months before Dick and I.
Another incident a few years before, Connie was diagnosed with Mono and she had to be hospitalized in isolation, Dad was having a fit because they had no medical insurance and the bill was already up to $400.
Dad never went to the open houses at school, I remember several times, touring Central High School with Mom, just so she didn't have to do it alone.
In May of 1972 we celebrated Joanne’s First Communion, all was good, we are moving on, the family is growing and we are all in tune with one another. Oh! Did I mention that I was 7 months pregnant at Joanne's First Communion.
Since we are a very religious family, we never miss out on being at Church on Sundays and Holydays. St. Edmond is our parish and things are changing, we now have a guitar and one singer at Mass, we have a young associate priest, Fr. John Roby who opens us up to new possibilities. Dick and I love the changes. They just made so much sense, it was a no brainer for us but not for all.
Dick and I start attending special talks at Church, Vatican II has reached St. Edmond’s Parish and we are loving it. At first we went because it was required of us, Donna making her First Communion in 1970. Later we couldn't get enough of it. It was around this time that I am sitting next to Sister Rose Chretien, she was Dick and I’s Latin teacher, we both really liked her. I respected her and she was very intelligent. I don’t remember the topic that evening but Sister Rose started to talk about “Limbo”. In the Roman Catholic Church, there were 4 destinations at the end of your life: “Purgatory, Heaven, Hell or Limbo”. Purgatory for venial sins, hell for mortal sins, heaven for perfection and limbo for those who were not baptized. Sister Rose explained that their was no longer any limbo, that the church decided since Vatican II that if the parents had wished their children baptized at conception, that this is acceptable, “The Baptism of Desire.” Having already had a stillborn baby girl and 3 other miscarriages, you can believe that I was elated.
This is only the beginning of many new ideas coming out of Rome and Dick and I took it all in, we didn't get ahead of it all, just took whatever we learnt through Liturgy, Gospel and some one on ones with Fr. Roby and the Dionne’s.
Fr. John Roby was very involved with the youth and at a social gathering with dancing etc, Dick and I along with Jeannine and Roland Dionne were asked to be involved with the youth group. If I remember, Dick and I were asked to be the leaders, anyway, Fr. Roby started getting friendly with all four of us and somehow the friendship grew more intimate between the Dionne’s and Fr. Roby. Somehow Dick and I lost the position of being the leaders of the youth group to Roland and Jeannine. Jeannine just matter of factually tells me that since they had a teenager in their home, Carmen was 13, this was the better choice. The second incident came just a little later. One evening Fr. Roby was to come to our home to play cards, I had my parents there at the time and we had planned for snacks and drinks. We noticed that Fr. Roby was at the Dionne’s house, no problem, we waited and waited and still no show. To this day I have no idea what caused him from not coming over but at 11 p.m. I called the Dionne house and Jeannine started yelling at me that I could have awakened the baby, Janice. I can’t remember if I apologized and still can't remember why I had to make the phone call, probably to find out why Fr. Roby never came to the house.
Needless to say Dick and I were very hurt by these incidents. I remember later writing a letter to Fr. Roby and asking why he didn't come to our home that evening. He never answered my letter.
So, it took a priest to come between the 2 couples friendship and we never really reconciled until much, much later.
New Year’s Eve 1971
You see in the above picture that my hair was a bit high. This was a hair piece that the hairdresser attached to my own hair. After I had just gone to the hairdressers that day, I am alone in the car, our 1967 Pontiac, I was going down the hill I was at the stop sign. St. Mary’s Bank the first bank (Caisse Populaire) was being torn down and all of a sudden, this steel ball from a crane came swinging towards the car and hit the back windshield, crushed it to pieces. I remember that it was Jone’s Company and later that week issued me a check for $100. I was very lucky that it didn't hit the front windshield. Oh, I made that dress. It was a satin sheath long gown with a slit on the right side and a pair of short shorts underneath, it was very stylish.
That evening we went dancing at the Alpine Club a few other couples. I didn't know at the time that I was 2 months pregnant for Lisa.
When I found out I was pregnant for Lisa in early 1972, I remember going to my parent’s home and I knew that Dad wouldn't be interested about the new baby, but one has to tell both parents. Dad was true to form, indifferent as can be. But I had low expectations. I’m sure he was a little surprised since Joanne was 7 years old.
If my Dad was a little surprised to hear about my pregnancy, Dick and I were very surprised. A few months before I had gotten off of the birth control pills. I didn't like what I was hearing and reading, that they could cause strokes, high blood pressure, among other problems. I also had lost a lot of weight, going to Weight Watchers, I was almost at goal. Mom, told me later that the same thing happened to her after she had Gerry on January 10, 1947, that she lost 20 lbs. and got pregnant for Don who was born on July 2, 1948.
Starting all over again was exciting, I was only 30 years old, I was healthy and all was going well. I was still working part-time at Ferretti’s Market on Elm Street.
Donna & Joanne were going to St. Edmond’s School, walking distance and they already shared the same bedroom. They had a new bedroom set, so we took their old bureaus and one crib and set up the spare room for a new baby. We painted it yellow, it matched the bureaus. Judy & Gerry lent us many baby things and even maternity clothes. Dick and I asked them to be Godparents.
The summer of 1972 was very hot, I was due July 16th and at one of my last visits to see Doctor Pablo, he asked me what had I been doing. I responded: some gardening. I was advised to stop whatever I was doing and get plenty of bed rest. I guess I had been overdoing things and my blood pressure was sky high. We bought an A/C for our bedroom.
When I went to bed that evening, I was anxious about my condition. Having been afraid of dying all my life, I was pretty concerned about getting through the next few days. That evening I had a very potent dream, it was my guardian angel, taking me above the earth and I was alive and well. I awoke refreshed, knowing that all was going to be okay, that I would survive.
Lisa was born on a Tuesday morning at about 11:00 a.m. July 25, 1972. She was 8 lbs 14 oz. The biggest baby that I had delivered. I was in labor about 5 hours. Dr. Pablo had said that this would be just like having my first baby again, since there was such a long span in births. He was right on the money, exactly the same amount of time as when Donna was born. All I can remember saying to Dick after delivery, was that she had a big head. But, she was a beautiful baby, already had black hair. She was delivered by a young doctor Arumbulo, who had just joined Dr. Morin & Dr., Pablo’s practice. Dr. Arumbulo, didn’t say two words to me during the whole process. I remember that his wife had a baby girl about 10 days before me.
When I returned home a few days later I was feeling pretty good but I think I started to over due it a little. By Sunday, I had many visitors and I remember telling them that I had to go lie down. Now, this is something that I have never done, leave visitors but I suddenly realized that 8 years had gone by since my last delivery.
By the time of Lisa’s Baptism I was doing fine. We had the usual big party and we settled in very comfortably, now a family of 5. Joanne and Donna both had their First Communion dress. Joanne made her First Communion in May and Donna the year before. When it was time for Lisa to make her First Communion, she wore Joanne’s, it was a little short but we managed with white tights. For the Baptism ceremony I really wanted the new young priest and I was disappointed when we had the pastor. Many years later, I saw a different side of him and understood his nature better.
So unexpectedly we had our third child and Don and Jackie had their first child a daughter, Dawn 9 months before Lisa, almost to the day. A coincidence? Dawn and Lisa became best cousins.
Lisa was about 3 months old when she developed a really bad coughing condition, nothing worked and we finally had to resort to her sleeping in her swing, somehow this did the trick and she was relieved of her cold.
Around this same time is when things were really getting to decision making time for my Mom. Dad was out of control and when someone is out of control, that person starts to control everything and everybody.
During this time I was getting my thoughts and feelings out about my parent’s situation with Aunt Madeleine. She was my bridge that kept it together. We spoke mostly on the telephone and she told me that if ever Mom needed a place to “recover”, there was a place that where we could bring my Mom for her to get treatment. That we ca call them anytime, even in the middle of the night. Aunt Madeleine said that they had a particular friend that went there and that he had made a remarkable recovery. I passed this on to Mom and told her anytime day or night to call and Aunt Madeleine, Uncle Fern and I would get her out of her situation.
A few weeks before Mom entered the recovery program, I had noticed that she had a black eye. I asked her about it and she said: “Someone threw down a roll of toilet paper and it hit her eye.” Of course, I didn't believe her and this raised a red flag.
True to form, in the middle of the night around 2:30 a.m., Mom called and said to pick her up.
When Mom left home to go for treatment; Connie, Judy and Bob stayed at home with Dad. It was very difficult at this time for the children. Connie and Judy were both in high school, Bobbie was 11 years old. Just recently Judy told me that before Mom went to Dublin, she remembers seeing both of them at the kitchen table one morning drinking. Judy was so upset that she took the liquor bottle and poured it down the sink and then left for school.
Uncle Fern, Aunt Madeleine with my Mom and I, went to Dublin, NH, being in the middle of the night, I had no idea where we were going and it didn't matter, this was going to be the right place at the right time for Mom. The cost was $200 per week and Mom stayed for two weeks. When we visited her after the first week, Mom mentioned that many people came back and it looked to her that they were well off financially, Mom knew that she had to get this done as fast as possible, there simply wasn't enough money and she had 3 children to take care of when she returned.
Dad, during this period tried very hard for us to divulge where we had taken Mom. I don’t think he knew too much about all that was going on, except somehow he found out that it was costing $200 per week and he was livid.
Dublin was a place where drug and alcoholics went to and they practiced the AA sobriety pledge. Mom discovered her path once again and left with the “Serenity Prayer” deeply ingrained in her heart.
After two weeks Mom returned home to Dad and her family. That very first day back home, Dad wants to celebrate her return and takes out a bottle of whiskey and beer. This was the straw that broke the camels back. This is when Mom stood on firm ground and asked him to leave their home.
Dad was very good friends with his Marine friend Levi Letendre, who at this time owned “Levi’s Red Arrow”. Dad found an apartment on top of “Ben Richards”, a man’s clothing store on the corner of Elm Street and Lowell Street where the “Red Arrow” was situated. Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on and who could blame him for looking elsewhere, his family had deserted him.
Except Eddie and Sue, it seems that they had borrowed about $600 from Dad when Dad received his retro social security settlement. One doesn't bite the hand that feeds them.
Years later Ed tells me that he never was really close to Marcel. I tell Ed, that his Pepere Marineau more than made up for Marcel’s lack of attention but I knew that this was not helping Ed’s feelings toward Marcel. I explained that when Marcel proposed to Mom, he had a big pair of shoes to fill. Alfred, our father was a very good man, religious, caring and comfortable to be with, while Marcel was a bit of a non-traditionalist (I will leave it at that), so it was almost impossible for him to be accepted as their daughter’s choice in marriage. I continued: “Furthermore, you are the son of Alfred and I am the daughter of Rita, big difference. Dad, looks at me and sees Mom, Dad looks at you and sees Alfred. This made sense to Ed and to me also because as I was revealing all this to Ed, it suddenly dawned on me how hard it was for Marcel to fit into the picture. Love sometimes does not conquer all. As we are finding out towards the end of Marcel’s life.
Just recently a few months before her death in 2014, Aunt Florence explained to me her sense of all this during 1945-1946. But before I get to Aunt Florence’s bird’s eye view of the situation, I have to tell you a bit of the story that started during WWII in the Pacific, where Dad was stationed in the Marine Corps.
It seems that the news about Alfred Richer’s death had reached Marcel and he told his buddies that when he returned to the states he would marry Rita with her two children. So Marcel upon returning from the war had an agenda. Remember that they had dated when Mom was in high school, meeting at ice skating rinks etc. In which, her father put a stop to it all and said that her education came first.
Aunt Florence continues the saga.Sometimes in late 1945 or the beginning of 1946, Marcel is at Ste. Marie Church with his mother and coming out of church, his mother points out to Marcel, the young Richer widow. He leaves his mother to catch up with Rita and strolls her home. She is living at 31 Quirin Street on the third floor and her parents are on the first floor. Well, I guess according to Rita’s parents he overstayed his welcome and stayed about 2-3 hours. Rita’s parents were livid, it was not a very good first impression. I don’t know where Ed and I were, probably downstairs with the grandparents and Florence because since Florence is telling this story, she must have been home, maybe babysitting.
So, New Years Eve comes along and I remember Mom telling me that she couldn't get a babysitter. Her parents must have refused because of the Sunday that Marcel stayed too long. This is where I believe that Mom started having a fetish about babysitting and never offered to baby-sit any of her grandchildren, in fact she made it a point to me more than once, that she was not going to baby-sit even when she moved in with us in 1980 on Henry Bridge Road. Of course, raising my 3 children, I had no idea that this happened to her many, many years before and how it had affected her whole perspective.
A few months afterwards Marcel and Rita are engaged to be married and they set the date for after lent, on the first Monday after Easter at 6 a.m., April 22, 1946.
Florence overhears her parents say that they are not going to baby-sit during their honeymoon. She is feeling pretty bad for her sister Rita. Florence realizes that she is going to be on vacation that week, she is a Senior in high school. She goes upstairs and asks Rita: “Would you like for me to babysit Jackie and Eddie while you are away on your honeymoon?” Rita is more than pleased, she is overjoyed. Florence tells her that this would be part of her wedding gift and she tells me that she gave Rita and Marcel a chair, I believe it was a bedroom chair, a nice stuffed flowery chair that I always thought was very romantic.
Rita and Marcel go to Montreal by plane, probably Mom’s first flight? It seems that they are getting bored in Montreal and decide to go to Lake George in New York. They fly to the airport and a taxi picks them up and asks for their destination. When they arrive at Lake George, it is empty, the season has not started, Dad was upset and the taxi driver says, well you never asked if it was opened.
Nevertheless, Marcel and Rita had a good start, well one can say with two children they had a head start.
Evangeline Boisvert Richer
Mother to Alfred
Memere Richer's Home
Moved in August 1972
from 5 Montcalm Avenue
65 Dionne Drive
In front of the Paradise High Rise
Memere Richer’s Rock
Picture taken by Andy September 2014
In August of 1972 Memere Richer’s home at 5 Montcalm Street was moved to 64 Dionne Drive. The city of Manchester was building a High Rise apartment complex for senior citizens, called the Pariseau High Rise. The city wanted to tear down Memere’s home and also Aunt Helene’s home. Memere wrote to President Nixon and pleaded her plight, that she had lost a son to the country but the country would not take away the family home. She won her case.
Modern Theater Nov. 1965 August 1972-New Foundation 65 Dionne Drive
So the “rock” was actually part of Memere’s back yard and is now situated in the front of the high rise building. The family home was bought and paid for by Uncle Wilfred Richer, brother of Edouard Richer, my grandfather. The home was turned over to Pepere Richer and after his death in 1953, Evangeline inherited the home. It had 3 apartments. Memere died in May of 1979 and in August of 1979, Raymonde Richer Desrochers, her oldest grand daughter bought the home and she and her husband Paul are still living there today. One of their daughters Linda lives upstairs.
The Richer cousins with Aunt Germaine
Back to late 1972 and into 1973, Mom and the family are adjusting to not having Dad around for family functions. Our first Christmas was at Don & Jackie’s in Chester. It had snowed tons in the early morning, so it was a nice country ride to their home. All was good and no one remarked about the one person who wasn’t there. This would be Dad’s last Christmas.
Dad, bought himself a new car, nice white, I remember Mom saying: “ He has a car but no where to go.” At this time Dad and I were not speaking to one another. The last conversation I had with Dad was sometimes in 1973. I was in the basement doing laundry and he called me and towards the end of the conversation he said: “You think you are so perfect.” At the time I thought my life was pretty perfect, I had a nice home, 3 beautiful children and a husband who cared for us, I wasn’t feeling any pain, except for Mom and yes, I have to acknowledge, pain for Dad.
“Perfect” Dad’s last word to me. I should have paid more attention to this word because it was a word of wisdom that I wasn’t ready to follow at the time but I would learn my lesson well. How trying to control everything and everyone in my life, so that I could project a “perfect” life was killing me inside. Was stopping my growth and everyone in my life’s growth. But letting go is hard to do, since it was working so good for me, why fix it? When you can’t see a problem, you can’t fix it. This word: “Perfect” would change my life around, when I realized that I was addicted to perfection.
It is 1973 and Mom had the 3 children to take care of and Dad was dating other women, he even took one to Florida with him. Mom was pretty upset but she kept on for the sake of the children. I felt like my hands were tied. You can’t control another person’s bad behavior and you can just give so much support to another person, even though it’s your Mom, I had 3 children of my own and a very understanding husband, who also loved my family, we were all torn to pieces.
On Dad’s gambling issue. It came and went. He would be gun ho! on not even going to a church functions that involved some type of gambling and than go right back to gambling, full speed ahead.
I remember Mom saying that way back in the 50’s when she was pregnant for Susie going to the races they almost got into a big car accident, they would travel far and wide to get to any kind of gambling situation.
Dick and I went to see a Celtic’s game in Boston with Mom and Dad and we couldn't even cheer for the Celtic’s because Dad had a bet on the other team. He would gamble and bet on anything that had legs. He was an equal opportunist. Dick and I went out with them several times on these occasions but Dick hated gambling, so we never followed in those foot steps. Good thing because I liked it.
Dad didn’t have to leave the house to gamble, anything on TV he would find a bookie some where’s to take his bets.
Later on in the late 60’s, he would bring up the subject of even the church doing gambling functions. He even was against St. George’s big “Tamborina”, one of their largest fund raising event of the year. He refused to go, must have been one of his dry periods.
After he died Mom found about $9000 worth of no good tickets, mostly racing.
On October 22, 1973 Mom was on the phone with me telling me that she had just taken Dad to the VA Hospital because he wasn't feeling well, this was around 8:45 a.m. All of a sudden a telephone operator interrupted our call and said that there was an emergency phone call for Rita Lesmerises from the VA Hospital.
Mom called me back to tell me that Dad was in critical condition and that she was leaving to go see him. When Mom arrived, Dad had already died of cardiac arrest. He was only 53 years of age. At this time Jackie, Don’s wife was working has a secretary there and they had called her to Dad’s bedside, she already knew before Mom got there that he was gone. This must have been very devastating for Jackie, knowing that her husband’s Dad had died and she was the only family member there.
Well, the VA had given him so many drugs throughout the years that his heart couldn't take it anymore. I always said that he died of a broken heart in more ways than one.
At Dad’s wake, I remember standing in the middle of the room
in front of the casket and asking Dad: “Why wasn't your family enough for you, why did you have to go elsewhere for love and comfort, while it was right there for you all along?”
That answer came to me 10 months later and changed my life forever.
Is that all there is?
I had always wanted more in my life, deep inside I knew that there had to be more than this mere existence. After all, why should we have to wait until we die to find our bliss?
So I kept on looking, I read the bible but didn’t really read it from the heart it was more of an intellectual thing. How was I to know that God actually could speak to you through the heart? I had a intellectual knowledge of God not a relationship with God, so I thought.
Our parish had an Information Night for married couples, it was to inform us about a weekend for Catholic couples and was called “Marriage Encounter”.
This was in April of 1974 and Dick had said that he would go with me. Get the idea, he would go with me, like doing me a big favor. Well, it was better saying no. That Sunday was upon us and it took everything ounce of energy to get Dick to shut the Bruins game on TV.
When we get to the information night, there are many couples from our parish, some that we knew from a distance, some our neighbors, like the Jeannine and Roland Dionne.
After the information was presented by couples who had experienced Marriage Encounter. Dick and I proceeded to put our name in and find a weekend that we would both have off. I remember seeing one of the ladies, a very pretentious woman, who said to me: “ You’re are really going to sign up, (like there was something wrong with our marriage or something, that’s the impression that I got) needless to say she didn’t sign up. Dick and I sign up for the weekend of May 24, 1974. About a month away.
The Friday arrives and we are packed to go, Susie and Darryl are at our home to baby-sit and Lisa probably went to one of the aunts and uncles, could have been Judy and Gerry.
You probably won’t believe this but after being married almost 13 years, this was the very first time that Dick and I went away together, with no children, other couple or other families.
We get to Mount Saint Mary’s in Hooksett that Friday evening around 6 p.m. This is a 44 hour encounter weekend. We get to our bedroom and first thing is that we notice that we have twin beds. We laugh! Our very first time together away and twin beds? Dick and I start to take the mattresses and switch them sideways and we remake the bed. We bring our snacks to the table and mingle. Of course, no one knows one another, we are all in the same boat, so reaching out is a big factor. Since this is our weekend, Dick and I pretty much stay close to each other, we are warm and friendly but are not trying to make new friendships.
About an hour later, we meet in a classroom. Everyone is given a notebook. (I still have our notebooks). There are 2 married couples (leader couples) and a priest at the front of the class. We are given the process of how the weekend is going to work, especially the details on how we are to dialogue with one another. Before the first question that we would be writing in our books, they played a song “Dulcinea”. it sounded pretty nice, I had never heard it before and it was all about self-image.
The first question: “Why am I here?” Not why are “we” here but why am I here? I remember putting the answer in my book: “Because I want to better understand myself, so that I can better understand others.” I can’t remember too much more except that we are sent to our rooms to try our first dialogue technique. We are asked to share our thoughts and feelings with one another, from the question and answer. The leaders tell us that there is not magic in the weekend, that it is going to be hard work and not to have expectations.
After the dialogue, we go to bed and we have our usual sexual encounter, nothing outstanding, just your run of the mill encounter (sorry but that’s where we were at the time) Remember we had a lot of growing to do in our relationship during those 13 years.
Before I fell asleep, all of a sudden, there is this wonderful aura around me, filled with a tremendous amount of love. I remember that the team leaders said not to expect magic but they were wrong about this one. I never told Dick or anyone, I didn't want them to think that I was “neurotic”. This was the first night and there were no earth shattering happenings. I took this experience as a gift from the Holy Spirit. I knew deep down that Dick and I had made the right decision, that this encounter weekend would be worth working through.
Of course, the questions got deeper and deeper and you have to go through the pain to experience healing. This is when the gift of tears are very real. Dick and I were continuing to work at our dialogue and getting to know one another once again.
13 years of marriage, births and non-births, Mom & Dad’s predicament took it’s toll on our marriage.
Marriage Encounter was a way to re-cover what we once had, what we had pushed aside for ??? We were pretty much going through the motions of a modern world couple, which Marriage Encounter, slowly brought to our attention. We had changed our values throughout our marriage, looking for relationship but overcome by life’s demands.
Sunday morning was the question of all questions. I don’t remember it verbatim but it was about death, and how we would deal with the death of our spouse and the feelings that we would encounter. Well, if you didn’t cry before this question, you were never going to cry.
That dialogue pretty much wrapped it up for Dick and I. We were never to be the same again, at least for awhile. (Real life just seems to trickle in), that is why communication is the answer to the problem. I will come back to this issue later on, but first the most exhilarating encounter of my entire life, which happened on the following Friday.
The best explanation was written by me almost 4 years after the encounter and it is the best recollection.
The following letter will lead you from May 1974-Feb. 1978
Letter written to:
Rev. Morton Kelsey
University of Notre Dame
Department of Theology
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
February 19, 1978
You have probably received so many letters from readers of your great books, here is one more to your collection. I have just finished listening to you speaking on cassette about “The Mirror Within”: A Religious Interpretation of Dreams”. I have also read many of your books, “The Other Side of Silence”, “God, Dreams & Revelations” and “God’s Forgotten Language”. They are all excellent and have helped me understand better my own experiences in this area of my life.
Here is a brief history of my own life, my name is Jackie Richer St. Hilaire, have 3 daughters, Donna, Joanne & Lisa. I am 35 years of age, raised Roman Catholic and my husband and I own and operate a Christian Bookshop in New England. So you can see how easy it is to come across your books. We have almost all your books and the best seller right now is “The Other Side of Silence”, which I have given to many people for gifts. A great lover of your books is my brother-in-law Jeff, who is studying for the priesthood in Austin, Texas.
I first became aware that God was speaking to me through dreams in July of 1972. I was pregnant for the seventh time, having miscarried four babies makes you a little anxious when it comes close to delivery time. I was in my ninth month and that same afternoon I had seen the doctor. He was not too pleased with my condition, blood pressure etc. and cautioned me to slow down, especially in the hot humid weather. Going to sleep that particular night I was thinking of different things that could go wrong and how I was scared of dying. Falling asleep I remember dreaming about an angel appearing to me and carrying me off to some distant place. It was very peaceful and I awoke reassured about going through this crisis. Which I did and everything went beautifully. I delivered a healthy baby girl, 10 days later.
In May of 1974, my husband Dick and I went on a Marriage Encounter weekend. It was a very uplifting experience and completely renewed our lives, our outlook on life and God’s plan for us. To change ourselves and consequently to change the world. Our vision and dreams where limitless, God’s spirit had surely been poured on us.
On Friday, May 31st, a week after our M.E. weekend, I had just finished meditating on our Lord and decided to take a nap before going to work. It was around 1:30 p.m. (I was exhausted at the time, it had been a very exhilarating week) I remember as if it happened today. Before falling asleep, I asked why my Dad, Marcel was so desolate in the last few years of his life and why people looked so sad and lonely? During this sleep, the answer came to me like a revelation, a light that told me that it’s because they are hurting, that my Dad Marcel didn’t have anyone who really understood him. At the same instance that this revelation came to me, my deceased step-father’s spirit, Marcel touched me with a great love that I had never experienced before, in the next instance my real father, Alfred who is also deceased, (I was 2 years old), touched me with the same spirit of great love. The next instance, there came over me the most powerful and wonderful experience of God’s love, our Father in heaven. His great love enveloped me, like a warm blanket of love. The three Fathers in one embrace. There is absolutely no words that can describe this experience. My whole body was being carried by this love and I was lifted up above the couch, that I was lying on. I vaguely remember thinking that our 2 daughters (Donna & Joanne) would be coming home from school, and knew that it was approximately 2:55 p.m. I tried to get myself off the couch, to see the time but I couldn’t get my body up, it was like something or someone holding me down. Then I saw my own funeral procession pass right in front of my eyes, with the children there at the entrance of St. Edmond Church with a black hearse. This really scared me and I wanted to wake up but I couldn’t. Someone inside me was telling me that the reason I did not love enough was because of my deep self-centeredness and if you release your hurt and turn to love you will be free.
I told myself that I had to get up and take care of my daughter Lisa, she was not yet 2 and she needed me. This self-giving act freed me and I was released.
When I awoke it was exactly 2:55 p.m. and Donna and Joanne arrived home.
I got off the couch to see if Lisa was awake but was very very dizzy and felt faint (I have always associated fainting with dying), I became very frightened at this time and called Dick at work, he said he would be right over. In the meantime I thought I might not make it until he got home, so I wanted to speak to a priest (with the kind of training that I had as a child you can understand why I did this, I wanted to confess my sins and also to talk to someone I thought might understand) finally I reached a priest who had given a Marriage Encounter but I must have sounded a little incoherent on the phone, I explained to him that I had just experienced what it was like to die and resurrect and come back to life, he couldn’t understand and offered me very little consolation.
Right after hanging up my Uncle Fern came in and noticed that I was a little shaken up, he didn’t fully understand my experience but did relate an incident in his life when he thought he was dying and how afraid he had become. This made me feel a little better and I was able to get back to reality somewhat, but every time I started to think about death I would start to shiver. That same night before going to sleep (which at this time I was terrified of sleeping) I started to shiver and shake so much that it made Dick so nervous that he started to shake. I really was convinced at this point that if I had wanted to I could have transcended myself into the next dimension. I was so convinced of this that I told Dick to call our parish priest. This was around midnight and there wasn’t anyone there who could come. I picked up the phone book (which I can’t believe I did at this point), I knew I was dying, and I wanted Dick to have
with him. Dick dialed my Uncle Maurice’s number, he is a priest and he came over. Upon arriving at our home he looked over the situation and noticed that I had lost a lot of weight, which I told him was due to the fact that I was dieting and was on some type of diet pill prescribed by the doctor. I had not taken the pill since our encounter weekend. I explained to him that we had been on a Marriage Encounter weekend and my experience on Friday May 31st. He analyzed the situation in this way: I had been on an encounter weekend, which deals very much with emotions and that I was physically and emotionally exhausted what with dieting and the diet pills. I was on some kind of trip (which he added that maybe someone had drugged me). I knew that some of what he said was true, I had just finished Spring cleaning our home and also dieting, he made sense and I told him that I would be alright. I fell asleep that night and the next two days Dick was home and it was comforting.
On Monday, my Mom came over and asked if I would like to go and spend the day with her, I said yes, I stopped at my Uncle Maurice’s rectory to thank him for coming over that Friday night, I shared with him that I felt like I had just been confirmed and he nodded and said that it was like a new awareness of the Holy Spirit. I accepted this explanation because it made sense to me. To confirm my Uncle’s statement that same afternoon I was napping on the couch at my Mom’s and I had the same experience happen with the acknowledgment that it was indeed the acting of the Holy Spirit in my heart. During the experience I cried out to my Mom, who was next to me watching TV and again I had a hard time to get my body up, until I agreed that I would become a less self-centered person.
I was never more aware of my self-centeredness as during that summer of my life. It seemed that every time I started to think about dying I would sink into despair, I couldn’t make myself die to this kind of thinking but when I did I would feel such great joy well up in me that I knew that God wanted to help me grow in this area of my life. I had ups and downs, highs and lows, low, low down to the deepest, lowest part of my soul, where I thought and believed that if I had gone any lower I would have died. The lowest time in my life was one evening when Dick and I had just written our love letters to one another (this technique that Marriage Encounter had introduced in our lives) before I started to read Dick’s letter, I was in so much despair that I still don’t know to this day how I ever picked ups Dick’s letter and read it. I was like dead inside, so dead that I didn’t think or believe that anything or anyone would make it come alive again. Reading Dick’s letter I realized that he really loved me and needed me and it was at this low point in my life that I made the decision to live and to love. I started to believe that I was loved for who I was.
A few weeks later I had another beautiful dream, Dick and I were sleeping and in the dream Dick and I were in our bed together and I experienced God’s great love for Dick and I.
It was a very spiritual and sexual ecstasy together. In the dream God revealing to me that He wanted to be first in my life and to put Dick second. I didn’t wake up until I was convinced of this in my inner most self and gave God my total self and promised to put Him first in my life.
I knew why God had given me this special dream. In the last few weeks I had started to think that maybe sex shouldn’t play that much of a big part of our lives, that intimacy was the sole reason for being alive but in this dream the Lord revealed to me that sex is a beautiful gift from God and is just as important and beautiful as intimacy, the two integrated together is being with God.
It was a very exhausting summer, trying to grow inward and keep up with our Marriage Encounter commitments, because at this point we were both gun oh on this movement. After a few more experiences I asked our Lord to please stop because I couldn’t take it anymore.
That summer of 1974, our family went to the beach for a week and I had a hard time trying to cover up my real feelings and at this point I was sick of myself and wanted so much to get out of these feelings. I knew deep down that the only way to let go and believe, really believe that God loved me and wouldn’t let me down and let me die. I even went to the point of actually challenging God and I did let myself go to physically die and nothing happened, as if you can test God that way, I realized it was a dumb thing to do. I asked God to forgive such foolishness.
During our stay at the beach we had our handwriting analyzed, which at this point I didn’t believe in it, thinking it was against the will of God but I didn’t want to be a party pooper. The physic read my handwriting and told me that she saw that I was in deep conflict and that there was no reason for it because she saw much joy in my life. She told me that she saw a lot of the color blue and my number was 7. I didn’t take too much of this for real but she had come out with 2 good points, my inner life and my favorite color blue and later on I read somewhere that 7 is a very good number in you spiritual journey, meaning perfection.
That same afternoon I was walking on the boardwalk and pushing Lisa in her baby stroller, when an overwhelming presence of peace came all over my whole being. It was Jesus footsteps. He was following me in back, I did not turn around, I knew it was Him. That evening president Nixon resigned from his office, August 9, 1974.
I really wanted to follow God’s direction for my life and didn’t want anything or anyone to come in the way. I prayed, meditated (which at that time, I didn’t know the word for this experience. I read many books (one of which left a deep impact “My Other Self by Clarence Enzler) but I was still much afraid of leaving my family and dying.
To make matters worse three people that I knew very well died that summer. One of which left a young widow married two years. We had spoken to this couple about M.E. (we spoke to many couples about our M.E. experiences) and they were scheduled to go in July. He had a motorcycle accident and stayed alive for two weeks in a Boston hospital, he was like a vegetable and I never prayed so much in my life for someone, it was as if I was inside of him and knew exactly what he was going through in his struggle within. I prayed to God to give him strength to let go and make the right decision, if he really loved his wife. During those two weeks a physic name Romona stayed with his wife and helped both of them to communicate spiritually together (he was in a deep coma), this physic perceived conflict in the room and suggested that his father leave the room, after he left, the room was peaceful again. After her husband passed on to the next life, (which I believe was a great act of love on his part, to let go of his physical presence), Rita his wife came over our home one evening and she suggested that I speak to Romona. In calling Romona I first asked if she believed in the Holy Spirit and she said yes that she was spirit filled, in speaking to her for just a few minutes, she told me that I had experienced a rebirth, that I had been born again, this was the first time that I remember hearing this expression. She told me to stop hurting, that Jesus Christ had died for me, and all the sins and hurts died on the cross with Him. She said that I was in the infant stage (alpha) and before going to sleep at night, she suggested that I sit straight in a chair and think positive thoughts and to repeat the words, peaceful, happy dreams and I would sleep well. This really worked for me and I thank God for sending her to me at this time.
Many months went by and through the grace of God, Dick and I had the opportunity to buy a Christian bookshop. A this time in my spiritual journey I was convinced that this is what God had been leading us to. The former owner of the shop Jackie Godbout knew in her heart that we were the people to take over the book shop. Her husband (retired from the Post Office, her second husband, had been passing out for no apparent reason physically but she was perceptive enough to realize that she had to choose between the shop (10 years of her life) or her husband. In April of 1975, she had just returned from a vacation in Florida and fell in love with the place and before they left, not knowing why, they purchased a mobile home. On their return home she heard rumors that there was a couple who wanted to start a Christian bookshop. She got a little upset and was worried that two of us in the same town wouldn’t make it. She decided to sell her shop and contacted all the people she knew that had been interested. Nobody at that time could take it over. She finally gave it all to God and told Him it was in His hands, she called my Uncle Ben to tell him that he could notify us that the book shop was for sale. The next day, friends of ours gave us $1,000 deposit and we were in business. You have to understand that Dick and I had no business sense whatsoever. We had deep belief in God and in ourselves and deep faith. Dick and I both worked for the same grocery store. Dick a meat cutter, myself a cashier. We were good with the public and knew in our heart that God was calling us. God has been good to us, in the last three years we have moved the entire store two times, we have enlarged and added another floor for music and a meditation prayer room. We put our trust in God and His people and He hasn’t let us down.
The first month when we purchased the store a man came in from Massachusetts, wanted to know if we had any books on dreams. We began to talk about our experiences and he told me the name of an author that had a book on dreams, of course I was excited because I wasn’t aware at the time that anyone had written about the same beliefs and experiences that I had gone through. I had search many a library. I couldn’t wait to order your first book on dreams, “Dreams, God’s Forgotten Language” and also Kingdom Within by John A Sanford. I found both of them excellent and I finally sold the copies to a priest. They are not the easiest kind of books to push because not everyone believes that God is revealing himself this way. This particular priest bought three of your books and a few of Agnes Sanford’s, so I’m sure that he will be back for more. He could be a big influence in this area. Also, “The Other Side of Silence” is doing tremendous and it would be great if we could arrange through the bookshop and the Episcopal Church to have you come to NH. New Hampshire is really coming alive and the spirit is moving faster than we can keep up with it. Dick and I and my Mom operate the shop and our two teenage daughters, part-time. It is very fulfilling work and although the store was started a good 15-20 years ago as a Catholic book shop, we have integrated many books from all the denominations as well as music. This is not to brag because it’s all for the glory of God and we praise Him every month, as our figures have more than doubled in three years. God is great and He can accomplish great things if we let Him.
It hasn’t been easy to die to self, so that I can let Him live in me but every time that I do, I feel His strength and He renews me and I’m like another person. He is always there ready to come in, all I have to do is let Him in. How hard to learn this lesson. He is such a great teacher and I will always try with His graces to obey Him.
In accepting dreams as part of my spiritual growth, I can better understand God’s direction. It is not always easy to follow and obey and the minute I’m off track, I know it, I become very negative and that’s not from God.
In reading your book “The Other Side of Silence”, about one year ago, that is when I really made more of an effort to listen to my dreams and I find the more I am opened to them, the more God speaks to me through them. Not that I haven’t been opened to dreams before but it seems if you really give Him the go ahead, you invite Him in when He wishes. He has never let me down yet and I don’t want to use dreams as a crutch like a couldn’t live without them. I don’t believe this is good for anyone because than we wouldn’t be in control of making our own decisions. God always gives us free choice. We can only ask God to reveal the way but we don’t have to choose it. But, what a fool I would be not to listen and be open to God’s direction, it is always because He wants the best for me and loves me.
When you spoke about being careful and becoming aware of the darkness weighing in and the evil and turmoil, I had dreams that revealed to me exactly what this is. The same night I read the chapter on this I dreamt the following: In my dream, I was sleeping, I was very peaceful, my head on my pillow, I had my head turned to the right and there was love and peace on this person’s face, than I turned to my left and it was the devil himself, sticking out his tongue at me. I told him to get out but he wouldn’t leave and than I said with deep conviction: “In the name of Jesus I reject you”, he spit vomit in my face and turned away, as he was leaving, I could see the chains on his ankles and while he was leaving the bed, he touched my feet at the bottom of the bed. I awoke immediately and started to praise Jesus. I thanked Him from the bottom of my heart for saving me through my baptism from this ugly creature. I got up from my bed and without any fear went into the bathroom. When I arrived at work the next morning, I went straight to this little book on the Rite of Baptism and saw that these are the exact words the priest uses. “In the name of Jesus, I reject you”.
Another dream a few nights later was an inner turmoil with the devil, he was actually inside of me but deeper within me was Jesus and I started to say the Jesus prayer: “Jesus have mercy on me a sinner”, and Satan left immediately. I use this prayer all the time, whenever I am tempted and especially after I sin. Through this dream I became aware of how powerful this prayer is. And of course how powerful Jesus is.
Since we bought the store in 1975, I have put on quite a bit of weight and have been asking the Lord to help me in this area. Through other people’s dreams I have become aware that the Lord wants me to be slim and that He will give me the graces to lose weight. My aunt Madeleine called me one night and told me that she had had a vivid dream about me, she said that she never dreamt of me before so she knew this was from the Lord. In her dream I had lost about 60 pounds (which is exactly what I should lose) I had on a beautiful rust suede dress (I hardly ever wear dresses, too fat) and my figure was proportioned very well, she also said that my attitude about myself was so positive and that I was freer than I had every been. The same night believe or not my mother had a dream about me also, except it was the complete opposite. In this dream I was loading up a van, I was putting all kinds of junk in the van, my mother said I was bigger than I am know. Wow. God knows I certainly can’t take much more weight. After listening to Mom’s dream, it was pretty easy to interpret. I’m putting all kinds of garbage in my body. I knew I had to make a choice, I could go either way.
The great thing about all this is my aunt had no idea that I had actually almost made a decision to start my diet on Jan. 3rd. She called the night before. Amazing.
I realize now why God chose someone else’s dreams to reveal this to me, the reason is because I never asked for His direction in this area of my life. I asked Him to help me lose weight and when I wasn’t losing weight, I gave up on Him in this area. How foolish, of course he took the initiative and chose someone else to reveal himself to me.
I made the big decision to on Jan. 5th to lose weight, when I brought our 5 year old daughter, Lisa to the hospital and I got the courage to step on the scale. I couldn’t believe it, I looked around me and saw these sick people in the hospital and I swore I wouldn’t want to be responsible for making myself sick enough to be here because of being overweight. I realized that my family needed me, the community needed me, and God needed me.
The decision was made and I became convinced within the deepest part of my being that God would be with me on this hard journey. Food has always been one of my biggest hang ups. I have been on and off diets for years. I have fluctuated between 130 and 207 lbs. since
high school and I am only 5 feet tall. I realize that this is going to be another growth in my spiritual journey and that I will have to take one day at a time and lose one pound at a time. In the meantime the Lord has lead me to start a group weight program and it has been going well, we are all supporting and encouraging one another. My aunt who had the dream is helping me with the group, we are about 20 women. In the prayer room at the Messenger Book Shop. Self-control is a gift from the Lord and I thank Him for leading me to ask Him for this gift He is so wonderful. To think that His program started with a dream.
Another significant dream in this area of my life, came just a few weeks ago: I was in a narrow hallway with our 5 year old daughter, Lisa, there was a door at the end of the hallway with a skeleton key in it. All of a sudden the key went on the floor and I knew that there was someone on the other side of the door who wanted to come in. I interpreted this way: Jesus never pushes His way into anyone’s heart. I have to open the door and let Him in. I wasn’t doing this in the area of self-control. Sometimes I wonder how He can put up with all my silly games of hide and seek. You would think by now that I would have learnt my lesson and let Him in. Jesus is the perfect gentleman, He never goes where He is not welcomed.
When I experienced my deceased step-father’s spirit, I would like to add that before he died very suddenly at the age of 53, that we had a break in our relationship and we were never able to patch things up. This dream had a great affect in mending our relationship. I also had another dream afterwards, in which I was in a funeral home with any empty casket and my father came into the room wearing his black raincoat, he had his arms outstretched and his face was marked with a scar (the doctor’s had performed an autopsy), he had gained weight, we both went to one another and embraced one another. I feel a deep peace and closeness now whenever I think of him.
Another dream during this time in 1974, when I was still afraid of dying. There was a beautiful Crimson room, all red velvet with a casket with no one in the casket, I was outside of the casket, floating. This made me feel reassured. As you can see this was a deep seated attitude of the fear of God, of a punishing God, of a judgmental God.
How wonderful to become aware of how much God loves us. I will spend the rest of my life leading people to this knowledge. The wonderful love of God our Father, to believe in Him is to be transformed.
The summer of 1974 my younger married sister, 8 years younger, decided to move to Colorado with her husband and 2 year old daughter. The family had another hurdle to go through when she came back home with her husband and daughter penniless. We had a family gathering ( I am the eldest of 8 children), it was decided that if we give in to them and send them money, they would never be able to stand on their own two feet, my deeper self told me to take them back no matter what but I was outnumbered at this time. I remember dreaming that night, very vividly. I was in heaven in some clouds, there were about six of us dressed in long white robes and I was speaking in some unknown language (later I read that this was speaking
in tongues). Someone spoke to me and said: “The Father is very happy with you”. I know from this dream that I would receive my sister with open arms no matter what. Her father-in-law wired them the money. She came home and things were rough, she left her husband, who had no sense of responsibility and later met a young man who helped her go through a hard period in her life. They were married in 1976. He is studying for the priesthood in the Episcopal church in Austin Texas and my sister is also in college at the University of Texas and is majoring in physiology and social work. Marvelous, amazing what God can do.
I hope you can use some of this material in your studies. If you wish, you can print whatever you want. I wanted to share how helpful you have been with your insights and how important it is for all of us to help one another. If people don’t share their experiences with you, it’s almost impossible for you to know if what your are teaching is coming across and being applied.
It must be fascinating to work in this field and I think Carl Jung was a marvelous person for his contribution to the development of the inner spiritual world.
Praise God for letting us be His instruments in creating His kingdom.
Hope to hear from you and may God bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand.
In His love,
Morton Kelsey answered my letter in very few words but said that is was very interesting. I still have his letter.
As you can imagine life changed very fast for our family from 1974-1978. Dick and I had a ministry and we furthered that ministry by becoming lectors (together as a couple) teaching CCD and getting involved in Marriage Encounter. We had a full life and I remember Donna telling us that before Marriage Encounter our family life was rather boring. Yes, that is what happens when one tries to control all the events going on around her, life becomes, stale, stagnant and therefore boredom sets in.
During this time period, our family grew in many different ways, Donna and Joanne joined St. Emond’s Folk Group. Actually Karen asked Donna to join and Joanne followed. Leaders were Gerry & Karen Chauvette. They were both very talented in different ways. But Karen took out the worst feelings from the group. She just didn’t fit in. Gerry on the other hand was a saint, to put up with her shenanigans. It was a great folk group, drummers, everything. Eventually, Donna lead a group to do Sacred Dance, it was very accepted, the dancing outfits that the group had chosen were regular Danskin dancing costumes, the body suit/leotards and matching wrap around skirt. Donna and Joanne had taken in Sacred Dance workshops with a very nice Protestant lady named Joanne. . These were the kinds of outfits that they had worn and since they were well accepted in her Church, the St. Edmond group did the same.
This was when Wayne Thurston was doing “Music is You” weekends, they became very popular. Dick and I and our family were very involved in the process
Some of the parishioners complained that they were too sensual but I believe the real word that they used was sexual. The first set was maroon and for Easter and after, they were Rose. Well the Rose ones were not accepted by the people in charge, probably the liturgical committee. I remember saying to myself, these people have hang ups on their own sexuality and I left it at that.
Donna went to Martin Hosiery to get the money back for the group and they told her that these costumes are non-returnable. Since I had been in charge of getting all the costumes with the girls at Martin Hosiery’s, I took it upon myself to go and return the costumes and to explain that the Church didn’t want the girls in this attire. I remember the ladies who were clerks, thought that I would never get a refund but I asked for the manager a young man who was the owner and after a lot of convincing the girls were able to get their money back. The ladies were very pleased and all the girls were relieved. So Karen Chauvette worked very hard and made all the girls these very nice light blue satin dresses, which the girls hated but really they had no choice.
A footnote about the Joanne the lady who led the Sacred Dance workshop. Wayne Thurston’s brother in law Marcel Martel was being ordained. His first mass at St. Anthony Parish in Manchester. Wayne asked Joanne to do a Sacred Dance.
Dick and I were invited to the ordination and the first mass. But before the service, Wayne informed us that Fr. Fernand Croteau would not let Joanne do the Sacred Dance. She was asked to perform at the reception afterwards. She looked lovely in white and it was beautiful but very embarrassing for Wayne and even for Dick and I, since at this time we were very found of her and her ability to teach. Donna and Joanne being among the first to have started their own Sacred Dance group.
Back to 1974. The week after our Marriage Encounter weekend, Dick and I met with as many couple as possible, to share our experiences. We were pretty high, even though I had had the experience with my deceased Dad, I would fluctuate from high to low.
We encouraged many couples to sign up: Eddie & Sue, Don & Jackie, Gerry & Judy, Bob & Lorraine but none of these couples got involved afterwards with Marriage Encounter.
But, there was no stopping Dick and I. Our prayer couple, Rachel & Paul Gosselin, came over our home and asked us to join them with a group of other couples to become what was known as a “sharing group”. This was great because we got to share our experiences and also share how we were doing with writing our daily love letters to one another and dialogue.
When leaving the M.E. weekend, Dick and I pledged to one another to continue writing and dialogue daily. Since that had worked so well for us on the weekend, why would we want to stop?
Well, for one thing, we are back into the modern real world, we have jobs, children who depend on us but nevertheless we continue to write our letters and dialogue. Being part of the sharing group was definitely making a big difference, we supported one another in our efforts to keep our “sacrament” alive. Dick and I realized that our relationship is the sacrament. This sacrament of our union, needs to be nourished or we will go back to our old ways and stay stagnant.
I remember putting the first of many posters up on our kitchen wall: “Growth is the only evidence of life”. I stood by this saying ever since. Actually calling our first book shop venture “The Growing Tree“, which Gerry and Ann Allard were going to give us $5000 to get started. He even had a small store ready for us. When they offered us the money, I remember Gerry saying; “Well, we really want you to succeed but the odds are very small.” Gerry and Ann Allard along with Norm and Ann Michaud, Pauline & Ed Paquette, Donna & Dave Giboney; Don & Diane Gagnon & Lorraine & Maurice St. Onge all from the West, became the first group on the West side, splitting from the East side group, led by Rachel & Paul Gosselin. Couples in that group included all of the above: Marie & Bob Raiche, a Jewish couple, which Dick and I really enjoyed, Paul & Shirley Bellemore, the Lamontagnes. We all stayed pretty close even after we split the group.
Marriage Encounter Dance 1974
Remember the "leisure suits/floral shirts & long dresses for the girls?
Since Dick and I had experienced such a wonderful retreat, we convinced my Mom that maybe a “Cursillo” would be just the right thing for her. So a few months after we made Marriage Encounter, Mom made her “Cursillo” and was sponsored by Aunt Madeleine. It was perfect timing. Mom came home with a few religious books and lent me some, Dick too. I fell in love with these books and so did Dick and this was the beginning of our wanting to start our own book shop. Now, you have to understand that before Marriage Encounter, I read mostly romance magazines and Dick the Union Leader. This was a big change for both of us. The first book that I read was: “My Other Self” by Clarence Enzler and Dick read: “Clap Your Hand” by Tom Tomzak, which turned Dick around to reading and also the “Charismatic Renewal.” Well, a little.
After reading” “My Other Self” I became even more despondent. It was like I was going deeper and deeper into a hell hole. Descending into Hell, like Jesus, which meant that I was experiencing all the void that someone in that predicament was going through. Hell of desperation. It was a “void”, nothingness, no love, no feelings, nothing. The pit of Hell on earth.
Dick has just been let go from Ferretti’s market, his heart just wasn’t in it, which they noticed and let him go. I had already quit because, after Marriage Encounter, I realized it was not helping out our family life, it was just extra money that we could learn to live without.
Dick and I get this idea that we should open up a book shop, since books had changed our lives and we knew many Marriage Encounter couples, we decided to try our hand at it.
THE MESSENGER BOOK SHOP
It is now early 1975 and Gerry and Ann Allard offer Dick and $5000 for our venture, they are in our sharing group. I start to write letters to publishers and we are going to rent one of Gerry’s smaller stores.
One day, Dick and I and Lisa are standing at the unemployment line with Donna & Dave Giboney and their youngest son Stevie, when we get the idea to go check out the Messenger Book Shop at 173 Hanover Street. We are thinking, maybe Dick and I could buy it out, even though it was not for sale. Just going to feel things out. We get there and Jackie Godbout is on vacation in Florida with her husband. Jackie is in her mid-50’s and has been running the place for about 10 years. We poke around and somehow the subject comes out that we might be opening our own book shop on the West side but could change our plans if we could buy her out.
The following was told to me later on by Jackie Godbout. It seems that when they were in Florida before they left they put a deposit on a trailer home. Her husband had retired from the post office and had started to have blacking out issues. They had unconsciously started to plan their retirement years together.
When she returned to NH, she found out that there was a young Marriage Encounter couple, who were planning to start their own book shop. Realizing that this would take the cream off the top and that the area could not support two Christian book shops, Jackie started making telephone calls to all the people that over the years had been interested in buying. It seems that it was not the right time for any of them.
She ended up calling my Uncle Ben and told him to have his niece come over to talk.
Dick and I along with Gerry Allard met with Jackie and somehow she resigned herself to let us have the shop for the price of the inventory, $16,000, the same price as her house trailer in Florida that they had put a deposit on that same month. Gerry lent us $1000 for the deposit and gave us the name of his banker, so that we could get a loan. We had plenty of equity in our home, which the bank used as an asset. Mr. Dorval, the loan officer asked me how I was going to run the business all by myself and I told him with my Mom, after all she is only 55. This produced a spark in him because he was the same age. Dick at this time was working at Bi-Wise Market on Mast Road in walking distance from our home on Tondreau Court. So I had the car all to myself. Lisa was to be babysat at the Martel’s house on Tondreau Court. The stars were lined up. Oh! Because Gerry signed in on our loan, we had no business experience, we formed a corporation called: “The Growing Tree, D/B/A Messenger Book Shop”. Gerry had 51%, Dick and I 49%. We also moved the store from Hanover Street to Kelley Street within a month. The rent was good and Gerry had his all around man Mr. Joyal, fix our new store at 345 Kelley Street, not on the corner, that was Granite State Machine’s usage, not the smaller store but the one after, medium size, stock room and large bathroom. Mr. Joyal, paneled the room, put shelving on.
Jackie Godbout said that she would give me 3 months of training at no cost. We lasted 2 months together. The publishers had no idea that a new owner had come into the business, since we had the same first name, we never considered that there would be a need.
This was a slow enough period for the book shop and there was much to learn. The bookkeeping was overwhelming for me, I should have taught Mom at the start. The books were all indexed and that was easy enough to find the titles in the shop. The Bibles were all in the back of the desk and I remember saying to myself: “Okay those are the Bibles”. Wow! Did I have a lot to learn about the different translations but that came later, one step at a time.
Publishers sent their representatives and Jackie showed me the ropes. There was a particular salesman that came in from Our Sunday Visitor and she hovered over me and when I started to be interested in some of the books, she couldn’t help herself and said; “Jackie you might want to hold off on ordering too many, the company is very conservative.” I guess I must have looked at the salesman, like don’t worry, you can come back later and Jackie commented that she had seen me.
One of her favorite priests came in Fr. Moe Rochefort and she introduced me to him and later I heard her say that I was “green”. Well, I was not green in the retail aspects of it all but I did have a lot to learn and isn’t that the reason for her to stay with me for 3 months. I’m a fast learner and I prayed to the Holy Spirit to help me through these first 3 months.
Jackie was livid when she found out we were moving the shop. Well the parking was awful on Hanover Street, right in the middle of downtown and who came downtown anymore, we had malls.
Well, the parking wasn’t that much better on Kelley Street put the street was wider. Anyway, it didn’t matter, we needed a fresh start. Which meant that we would be bringing in our own people and she had to let go of a few people,
And that is how we ended up with the Messenger Book Shop. We paid the loan off within the allotted time and things were good financially, Dick was working and I paid my mother 2 days and only paid myself enough to pay the baby sitter. Gerry said that Dick shouldn't come into the business for 5 years because that’s how long it takes to be solvent.
Well, the book shop was pretty solvent, we were busier than ever, Mom and I couldn't keep up with the demands. The book shop was growing by leaps and bounds, everything that came in, turned itself around faster than we could get stock back.
The first year we doubled the business and that was just bringing in more Marriage Encounter jewelry etc plus more of everything else, like nice cards and some candles. Jewelry and cards have a much higher markup than books or music and shipping is a lot less.
We were growing and I couldn't keep up and Dick was getting restless to come in full time. He came in as often as possible to learn the ropes. He was immediately in charge of music. I just couldn't keep up with all the new artists etc.
Sometimes in 1976, Gerry offered us the corner for our book shop. Probably after he received a nice bonus check of $5000 for the first year. Anyway, he said: “When a window of opportunity is opened, is when you have to grab it.” The place was a disaster but Dick was so excited about the possibility of coming in full time that he just worked his tail off to get that place ready. Jeff, Susie’s husband helped him out as well as Dave & Donna Giboney, who had their own electronic company. Marriage Encounter had really change our lives. We took more chances, maybe some not very responsibly but somehow by the grace of God it was working.
Since I had not been taking much of a salary, we decided that we would only take out one salary and that it would be in Dick’s name. Gerry Allard put our family on Granite State Machine’s medical insurance plan.
We had many people who were part of a “Cursillo” group who came to our shop and we always maintained a book and music display during the retreat weekends. Since Dick and I had not made “Cursillo” we didn't want to intrude on the closing night of the “Cursillo” because it would spoil things for us when we made our “Cursillo”. So, really we didn't have much choice in the matter, which Jackie Godbout had mentioned to me several times when she was training me.
In 1976, Dick and I decided to make a “Cursillo”. This weekend a retreat with a short course on Catholicism, split’s the couples up. The man has a sponsor, experiences the weekend first and then the husband sponsors his wife. I will have to get more info from Uncle Ben & Aunt Annette.
The Messenger Book Shop received many invitations to do book fairs. We went to many parishes and even slept overnight in the rectory, so that we could cover masses on Saturday as well as Sunday. We really enjoyed those weekends and got to know many of the priests in their on environment and not just the book shop.
We also went to many conferences. One that stands out was a Charismatic retreat, a full week at LaSalette in Enfield, NH. John Quigley O.F.M., was the key speaker and spoke every day. Fr. Roland Cote was the host and MC. We set up our book tables and this time, we had brought Donna, Joanne & Lisa with us. We lived in one room in the Shaker building and that is where we also dined. I remember that we all went to the Laundromat into Lebanon and the kids were intrigued about how you could load up 1 or 2 washing machines and dryers.
There was to be a talent show on Saturday evening and since Donna & Joanne already knew sacred dance, we decided to participate in the talent show and have Donna, Joanne, Lisa and Dick dance while I sang the song: “I Want to Live” by John Denver. I remember practicing the song in my room and a lady told me that she was very impressed with my being outside of the box, like not choosing a religious song but standing on my own beliefs. I was happy with the comment and she re-inforced our decision to do this song. After we performed. I remember a few comments to me, one was that it was great but it would have been better without Lisa, since she wasn't as well prepared. Another was that I sang better than John Denver. Well, it wasn't karaoke, I had to sing above his voice but it all went pretty good. I don’t think that any of us were judged and there weren't any prizes.
Another Enfield Charasmatic retreat was with a Bishop Nicholas from Hondoras. It was just Mom and I with the books. When it was time for dinner, I drove the car and Bishop Nicholas along with Mom, George LaPorte and a few others. I guess I was driving pretty fast and I remember Bishop Nicholas telling me that. We all went to the Riverside Grille. This was the time that I met Charlene Lavoie’s Mom and she told be about Gerald Berube the dentist that I had worked for in 1960-62.
Our family also did a Family Encounter weekend at Enfield and Mom came with Bobby. Marie & Bob Raiche and their family were the leaders of the weekend.
I remember one of the LaSalette fathers speaking to us, could have been a youth weekend, hard to remember and also Fr. Pat Patenaude gave a concert. There was a nice gift shop there and Rob Racinski was running it. (I will get back to that story later in 1982).
One summer my whole family, The Richers and the Lesmerises’ came to Enfield for a weekend. The LaSalette fathers owned about 4 beautiful chalets built many years ago for the seminarians. It was understood that when the Shakers sold their properties that it would have to be a place for people to commune with nature and God. The LaSalette vocations dwindled and they started to rent the chalets, right there on the lake. The chalets were wonderful for a large family. The had 19 rooms, 2 levels and community bathrooms and showers. There was one master bedroom/bath. Eric and Vi Rahn, Susie’s in laws at the time, paid for the rental. All he asked was that our families took care of buying the food and preparing the meals. Good deal, if I remember the cost was $600 for 2 nights. Of course, being "the queen bee" (a name that Eric Rahn labeled me) I organized the whole venture.
The living room was the center of the chalet. It was a large open area with seating built all around. No TV’s. It was sunk in, the kids played all kinds of games, volleyball etc.
Some of us played cards and I remember Eric and Vi, being very impressed that Donna and Joanne knew how to play cards.
On Sunday morning some went to church, I stayed in the chalet, there was always a lot to do. It seems that Connie’s car got stuck and Eric and Dick went out to help her. I remarked: “Well, that was church for Eric and Dick.”
The summer of 1976, Dick, Mom and I went to a Christian Bookseller Convention in Atlantic City. We take Mom’s ‘75 Nova. This was a very enlightening experience for all of us. We met many vendors, received so many sample books, records etc. We would come back to our hotel room and check things out among us and had some good laughs. It was a very good experience. We met many Christian authors and artists. Heard many talks mostly witnessing to Christ and found some good workshops to help us build our business. Some of the authors that we heard: Merlin Carothers, Chuck Colson & Harold Hill. Harold, we took a liking to and invited him to NH for a book signing and to be a speaker at a non-denominational church. It was nice to have him at our home. We had a good variety of people come to our book shop.
Doing the bookkeeping keeps me away from the customers, it is very time consuming and boring, I finally get a volunteer to do the book keeping. Mrs. Jeanne Cote is a God send, she had her own business and family and realizes from her past experiences what I am going through. I am truly blessed to have her on board.
Around this same time, I started a support group for weight loss, we have a nice prayer room that Dick and I painted and fixed up. It is very well attended all women that I have met through the book shop. My intention is not so much to give them “a diet” to follow but for us to concentrate on going inward. I oftentimes had other women come in to give some direction in spirituality. Inner work is difficult and weight loss is difficult and I just couldn't get my point across that if you are not doing inner work, you might lose weight but it will all come back, which it did.
When school was about to end in 1977, Joanne was in the 8th grade. One morning, Dick and I get a call from the Goffstown police, to tell us that they received a call from Mrs. Bergevin, a neighbor across the street. She told the police that she saw someone enter our home through the cellar window. I remember that Andy St. Germain was in the store and Dick left to meet the police at our home. I was petrified, I knew that Joanne was home alone. Dick came back to report that they found no one in the house, Joanne woke up and all was okay.
A little while later, we receive another phone call from the police to tell us that the same neighbor saw a curtain flying out of Donna’s window, on top of the roof of the breeze way. This time I panicked, when we got home, Joanne had taken a shower, we went through the whole house and no one was there. Evidently, the person had hidden in the closets, they were very large closets on both sides of the house upstairs, one on each side of both rooms. Joanne had some of her Confirmation cards and money on the TV but nothing was stolen. It seems that this young man had been to our home for a party down stairs and had what you would call “cased the joint”. I don’t believe we had a name but a generalization that it had to be one of the boys at the party. Joanne didn't seem to be too nervous about the whole affair.
During this same time span Dick and I started taking classes at the Manchester Christian Life Center. The Diocese of Manchester supported this adult education. We really needed to catch up on where the church was going, after all we were a progressive book shop and needed to know what we were talking about. We took the basic 6 weeks course with other St. Edmond parishioners. This was the best decision that Dick and I could have made. Since I had graduated high school in 1960, that was my last update of where the Catholic church was at, except for the changes in Liturgy and a few parent teaching classes, Dick and I were in the dark ages, as far as the Catholic church.
We formed many wonderful relationship through this process, besides parishioners, we found many of our customers were taking the same courses as Dick and I. We were all like sponges, taking it all in, these were exciting times for us.
Actually, looking back a year or so, Mom was taking courses at the Christian Life Center before us. After her Cursillo, she went full steam ahead with Aunt Madeleine, going to seminars at St. Anselm and becoming part of a Charismatic Prayer Group. The night that Dick and I finalized the buying of the Messenger Book Shop, we were so excited that I remember interrupting her at one of her classes at the Christian Life Center to tell her the good news. Fr. Dick Chagnon was the director at that time.
The basic course is where we met Claire & Louis Trottier, we became friends and our families would often do things together.
I also joined the choir at St. Edmond Parish. Don Gagnon was the director and Claire Trottier was his half sister. Dick and I had become friends with Claire & Louis Trottier and she asked me to join the choir. She had a very nice voice. At the time, she had her own beauty parlor and I was one of her customers. We had many good conversations together.
Claire was a bit of a flirt and I remember her getting very friendly with Fr. Dick Muskes, who was than the director of the Christian Life Center and also teaching us the basic course as well as many other classes that we all attended together.
I started to have my doubts about her behavior when she started to flirt with Dick. Once at our home on Higgins street, when we were celebrating Dick’s birthday.
One evening we were at a pot luck dinner at St. Edmond’s for CCD teachers and she is sitting across the table from Dick and I. She starts telling me that she is psychic, which she has talked about before but this time she is telling me that she can actually make me get a headache. I tell Dick that I want to leave and he goes to get my coat, it is winter and Fr. Bouley, comes to me, he was drunk and pushes me. I could feel jealousy in him. I felt sorry for him.
I was fed up with it all and little while later I tell Dick to go see Claire and to tell her to keep her distance. We stopped the relationship with Louis and Claire, too bad Dick really liked Louis and they got along great. Years later Louis and Claire were divorced.
Fr. Larry Hughes was the Director of Religious Education for our Diocese. When we first met at the book shop, he was a bit distant and liked to chime in about his expertise. Fortunately, we had a mutual friend, Sister Estelle Comeau, Director of the Christian Life Center in Salem. Sister Estelle, many times took our place at the Messenger Book Shop, if we had book fairs and one time in January 1978, Dick I and went to Montreal and Sister Estelle, even baby sat the 3 girls.
Eventually through the Ray Repp concerts and different gatherings we became friends. He was not an easy triumph. The last time I saw Fr. Larry was at Sister Estelle’s funeral mass at Holy Cross Manor. Dick and I sat in the front with one of her friends Elaine, Fr. Larry in back of the chapel. Later I was told that he went to Florida to do dentistry for the indigenous people, where he later died.
Encountering Ray Repp
Around March of 1979, I was browsing through Our Sunday Visitor’s catalog. I really don’t understand why I was looking at this publisher because Jackie Godbout had told me in no uncertain words that they were very conservative. When Jackie Godbout was training me to take over the Messenger Book Shop, a salesman from Our Sunday Visitor came to the shop to show us the new items. She observed his approach and at one time told me to be careful, that the customers didn't seek their books because the company was too conservative. This is when I began to better understand the terminology between conservatives and liberals.
Going back to the catalog, call it God’s providence, all of a sudden I spot a new album called: “Benedicamus” by Ray Repp. I bring this to Dick’s attention because by now Dick is in charge of music. I have enough to do with the books and all the other miscellaneous items that we started to carry to help the sale of books and music.
We order the new album about 25 copies because Ray’s music has always sold well for us. After all he was the pied piper of folk music and responsible in bringing the guitar into the mass. Anyway, you get the picture.
The album was wonderful and Dick and I think that it might be time to bring Ray to NH, as far as we knew he had never appeared in NH for a concert. Dick calls Ray and they hit if off. Ray agrees to come to NH and we schedule a workshop/concert for Saturday November 10, 1979. The rest is NH history.
In late August there is to be a New England Eucharistic Congress and it will be at The University of NH in Durham. We decide that this will be a great event for The Messenger Book Shop, Jackie Godbout had done this in the past. So in order to keep the price of the booth at a minimum we are told that sometimes publishers are willing to fork over some of the funds if you represent them at your both. Of course, the first one on our list is K&R Music. To follow would be Orbis Books, Dove Pulications, Seabury Press, which all in all paid for the all set up.
So, I am very busy ordering books on consignment, boxes and boxes. I am checking the program and making sure that I have books for the authors that will be presenting work shops. I remember William Bausch coming to our table and saying that it was good that someone was carrying his books. Of course, we had all of Ray’s companies music as well at “The Dameans” who were giving the concert on Sat. night.
Somehow, St. Edmond Folk Group were invited to perform at one of the masses during the weand Gerry Chauvette and Dick must have arranged for Ray to come to NH. Ray would be doing a gathering for the Manchester Diocese group on Friday evening.
That summer Gerry and Karen along with Nathan visited Ray and his partner Bill Kelly at K & R Music in Trumansburg, NY and Bill is a priest in the Diocese of Rochester and formerly a professor of Old Testament at Cornell. He had is PhD in Philosophy.
Gerry, Karen & Karen with no warning arrived on Ray and Bill’s doorstep, introduced themselves. Arrangements were to be made and Ray was to come to NH in early August to meet the folk group and he would be staying with the Chauvette family on Ste. Marie Street.
We are living on Higgins street at this time and we have a nice pool, so we invite the folk group for a barbeque for the weekend that Ray would be here. I know the Chauvette’s took care of their family & Ray for food etc. I can’t remember the other members of the folk group, doesn’t matter, in any case, we were ready. We wanted to meet Ray also, since we were sponsoring him in November. Saturday arrives and it is a perfect summer day. I have my bathing suit on with a sundress over it.
The Chauvette’s arrive with Ray, Dick and I meet them at the side of the house in the driveway. Ray shakes Dick’s hand and then mine. I feel a negative vibration coming from Ray’s handshake. I say to myself: “That’s okay, as long as he likes Dick. We go into the nice A/C kitchen, Dick’s fixes us a “drink” and Ray starts telling us about Karen & Gerry’s visit to Trumansburg and how Nathan kept on jumping up and down on the stapler. We laughed and this broke the ice. Ray’s first impression of NH folks, Gerry, Karen & Nathan. The kids are all having fun in the pool, Dick and I sit down at the picnic table. Karen & Ray are sitting on one side of the table and I am facing Ray, Dick is to my right. Karen is showing Ray her wedding album and how they arrived at church in a horse and buggy, Karen went on and on, as only Karen can and Ray & I look at one another and I describe it best with these words: “Oh well, whatta you gonna do?”, not out loud of course. In the meantime Emile Chauvette is cooking hamburgers on the grill and I turn around and notice that their hamburgers are setting a fire. I feel kind of bad but we all laugh it off.
In the evening we all went down in the basement and Ray took out his guitar and sang a few songs. Dick and I sat together on the couch, feeling pretty good about our first time with Ray.
￼We all went to church on Sunday, the folk group along with Ray sang. We left and went home for lunch and later, picked up Ray at the Chauvette’s, so that he could get a tour of the bookshop. When we enter the shop on the corner of Kelley & Joliette streets, Ray notices the original tin ceilings and remarks how neat they were. We went upstairs to the music and later came down and he looked around and perused the books. I am a little tense about how he will like the selection. No need to worry, he started piling up books on the counter and Dick put them on the store charge and I remember telling Dick, not to forget giving him a 40% discount. I thought that it was fair, since we bought his records at 40% off. Dick mailed the books the following day, I’m sure. Messenger Book Shop and K&R Music were a good fit.
All in all it was a good weekend and we talked about the upcoming Congress at UNH and the concert in Concord in November.
So, like I mentioned it was a very busy summer but that’s good because the days can be slow, since customers are not numerous. I ordered too many books, my Mom and Dick were pretty busy. I had Joanne make signs for the Congress and Dick put his music order out.
In late August on a Thursday, we arrive at UNH and first thing, we unload our books in the convention center. We had tons. It takes us 5 hours to get everything perfect. Ray and Bill drop by, with their records and some signs. We place them all in a special rack, after all we were representing K&R Music. Bill & Ray tell us that they are staying at the Sheraton in Portsmouth. Dick, Mom & I are in the dorms. We make plans for dinner, pizza and beer. Mom, Dick, Ray, Bill & I. I’m not a big beer drinker but they ordered pictures of it and I just kept on drinking, I realized that beer and pizza was a great combination.
Friday was the first day of the conference and Ray was singing that evening in the Diocesan room. I really don’t remember how all of that was set up for Ray, needless to say, we all must have had something to do with it. We were very busy and Ray and Bill came around a few times to meet the people. There is a picture with Ray & Bill at our display and Ray is pulling out a ticket, we must have been giving things away. Anyway, I remember one time, before they dropped by, that we had just changed the music from the Damean’s music to Ray’s. I was so grateful that Ray’s music was playing, One of the speaker’s William Bausch came around and complemented us for having brought his books to the Congress.
Friday evening was a big success, we had about 350 people in the room and this was Ray’s first experience with the NH Diocese, I was pleased for him, that we had a good showing, it made us more comfortable and less anxious, since we were planning a big concert in November. We had many people come to us and tell us how much they enjoyed Ray’s music. It was the highlight of our weekend for Dick and I.
Saturday was even more busy than Friday, we sold many of Ray’s music, which helped to get people to visit the rest of our selections.
The Damean’s in concert on Saturday night was very nice but not as exciting for Dick and I as Friday night. Ray and Bill did not come to the concert. They left sometimes on Saturday.
Sunday was not a busy day at the book table, lots of stuff going on with the Mass and awards for the youth etc.
We packed after the Mass and we were more than exhausted. I remember driving home and almost falling asleep. Dick must have driven Donna’s car, the Torino and I had the Pontiac wagon.
By September I was exhausted and was pretty low in many ways. I remember Eric Rahn taking Dick, Mom and I out to dinner at the China Dragon. I was sharing him my feelings about the bookshop and how it was all very overwhelming, bills both at home and the shop, 3 children, who were growing and needed more attention, everything was just piling up. My nerves were shot, I was gaining weight and instead of slowing down, I just accelerated.
You would think that with all the books that I was reading, (Dick would mention that fact many times throughout the years) I should have slowed down and reversed the situation but no, I just kept on doing more and being more for others. I didn’t put myself first. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree or to put it more bluntly, I was my mother’s daughter. Always putting everyone else first and not dealing with my own feelings and issues. Dick was not far behind me on all counts. Our daughter Donna is pretty much in this same category.
Not quite 40 , I did have a lot of energy but mental stress takes much of it away. So I was up and down, in and out.
Fall is a pretty busy time all around, kids going back to school, teachers coming into the book shop, there is a lot of ordering for Christmas that has to be done. All has to be ready pretty much when Advent starts. But, remember we had a busy summer with the Congress.
Sister Bernadette Turgeon comes to our home to summarize what was going to happen on the weekend of November 10th. We lived on Higgins Street at the time. All is good but she informs us that she will not be making the event. I am a bit perplexed but I believe, there could have been something going on at Emmaus House that weekend. I wish we would have checked all that out before we planned everything out, after all it was to support “Emmaus House”. Nevertheless, there were plenty of young adults from Emmaus House that day and they took in the money and had a nice display of picture of retreats given at Emmaus House.
Emmaus House was a 64 room retreat center established in 1978 as part of the Diocese of Manchester youth ministry program. At this time Rich Rouse and Sister Bernadette were the directors.
The weekend of the concert is now upon us. We pick Ray up in Boston, no Manchester flights from Syracuse. Of course, at this time I have no idea what city Ray is coming in from, that was Dick’s stuff. We go to the store and Dick leaves with Ray to give him a tour of Emmaus House. The proceeds of the day are to go to Emmaus House, after all the expenses were paid. Ray charged $500 + plane and the shop had other expenses, food, dinner, gas for the car etc. At this point we had about 400 people coming, some paid for, some we gave to the Diocesan staff, like Fr. Crosby, Fr. Pichette. Tony Haley from the Diocese did print the tickets for the event, free of charge.
Saturday, November 10th in morning we get to Bishop Brady High School, fairly early, to set up the tables for the Messenger, chairs for the workshop, in the cafeteria and also chairs for the concert. I had brought fixings for lunch, sandwiches etc. St. Edmond Folk Group was all there, they would be playing at the liturgy after the workshop and also before the concert that evening. Donna and her group also did Sacred Dance, I believe to “Benedicamus”. Donna, Joanne, Gail and Irene Lemay were the dancers.
Rich Rouse is in charge of the liturgy, Wayne Thurston is MC for the concert and we stay close to Ray through all the day. Later on, a few months later I wrote a letter to K&R Music called: “A Day with Ray”, and later they published it in “The Sounding Board”, their newspaper. I really didn’t think it was anything exceptional but there it was right on the first page. I wish that I had kept a copy.
Before the workshop, we all went into a small room and Rich Rouse (Rich Rouse was very sick and on chemo during this time) led us into prayer and off we were. The workshop met all our expectations. One of the things that come to mind was when Ray spoke about the Liturgy and he compared it to when one has guests over for dinner. Do we eat first? Anyway, you get the picture. Also, something about peas, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have much in common with one another, it could be that you both like peas, but it’s a starting point to build on. Ray also quoted from: “The Little Prince.”
Fr. Gerry Belanger is the celebrant at the liturgy, Dick and I Eucharistic ministers
All is well and after the liturgy some of us leave the building to go out to dinner. We go to “DeNaw’s Restaurant”. Karen, Gerry, Rich, Dick, Ray and I. Before we sit down, I tell Ray that he did a wonderful job and that he was beautiful, he responded by saying, so are you. I can’t remember if we had drinks, probably not, who knows, maybe Ray and Dick?
It is getting close to concert time and when we arrive back at the high school, the place is already buzzing with people. St. Edmond Folk Group is playing and somehow we all get our act together. Wayne introduces Dick and I and we introduce Ray.
There are a good cross section of people at the concert. Religious, priest, educators and Ray Repp fans. It was a great concert. Dick and I had only heard Ray with a group at UNH, we weren’t too worried about his performance, only that we had a good crowd.
After Ray stopped playing, I went back to our record table and time was passing on and Ray wasn’t coming back to sign records. I remember going into the hall to search for him and lo and behold, there he was taking in on the limelight. He quickly looked at me and I didn’t have to do or say anything, he left the hall and came to the record table.
When we got home. I put my robe on and Dick fixed drinks and sitting down, I remember saying: “Hey, you forgot mine”. Dick was on the couch and I was in a chair next to Ray. Remember the Mediterranean living room set, it was very comfortable, the chairs anyways. I don’t remember why this subject of celebrities came up but I do remember saying that Elvis was searching for meaning in his life because when they found him in the bathroom, he had a philosophy book with him. Hopefully, this statement made sense in our conversation.
The Messenger Book Shop is growing but so is our family, it takes more money to live on and we take more income from the book shop. By depleting our resources, we are depleting our inventory. You can’t have one without the other.
So, we are still ordering as much as we need because the book shop is growing by leaps and bounds. By this time we have tripled our gross but still there is nothing left to build on, money in is money out, as fast as it comes in, there are bills to be paid.
Mom has really made a big difference in our lives and in 1980 we come up with plans to sell our home on Higgins street and find a home with an apartment. Bobby will be entering college and her place on Union street is too large for one person and it’s time for Mom to make changes and start anew. She is now 60 years of age but is still going strong and loves working with our family. These are good building blocks.
Judy and Tom are married on July 4th and when they returned from their honeymoon, Mom had already moved into her new apartment. With the help of my brothers, Mom settled in before Dick and I.
Donna and Joanne were Judy’s bridesmaids dress in royal blue and Karen her maid of honor was in red, the bride in white. It was a very patriotic wedding. Tom and Judy were married at St. Joseph’s Cathedral chapel and Eddie gave the bride away.
I don’t know how Dick and I did it all, selling our home and getting ready to move but we even had Tom & Judy’s wedding reception at our home on Higgins street. We had the room and a pool and if it rained we had our finished 2 rooms in the basement. It was a perfect day and we had the wedding cake made by Tom’s sister Fran, situated in the dining room with the AC’s running. The reception line in the same area. It was well planned by all of us and the day went well.
There were about 65 people at the wedding. Mom and Tom’s parents Ernie & Jeannine. Tom’s 12 siblings and Judy’s 8 including significant others, niece and nephews and aunts, uncles.
Dick and I found a home in Goffstown (Grasmere) a nice old historical home built in 1834 on Henry Bridge Road, corner of Greer Road, next to the river and bridge. In doing the history on the home, the first owners was a Captain Greer, who served in the Civil War, had a son who died during the Civil War, buried in the cemetery in Grasmere’s Methodist Church. Captain Greer was married twice and had 13 children. Most of his daughters became teachers. After the Greer family, one of the Governor’s had it has a summer home. Later it was sold to the Electric company. I did the history but gave it to the Janelle’s who bought the home from us in 1986.
Our Henry Bridge Road home was situated on about 1 acre, with great soil for gardening. We were surrounded by several different species of trees. Two beautiful Weeping Willows, close to the garage and a Baptist Church separating our property. Our neighbor to our right was the Parson’s home. In the front an older couple the Harvey’s.
We purchased the home from the Daigle’s a French-Canadian family, who were building a new home on Warren Avenue in Pinardville.
These years were very good years for our family and Mom. Mom loved her second floor apartment, it had 1 bedroom, an eat-in kitchen and large living room with a brand new wood floor and a small area for dining. Her washer and dryer off the dining room.
Downstairs, we had 2 very large bedrooms and an upstairs bedroom. A large eat-in kitchen. A large living area separated by a chimney with a dining room. Lots of windows. One bathroom but very large with a washer & dryer. Sliding doors to the outside patio with beautiful views.
We kept up the garden a few years. I started a perennial flower garden.
Financially the mortgage with Mom’s rent was going to be doable but we didn’t realize how high the oil bills were going to be. We had a wooden stove, which we used but that was mostly in the kitchen area.
A double car garage and Mom had her own parking area on her side it was a perfect fit for our family.
Donna and Joanne didn’t mind the move, they still had all their friends in high school. We made sure that we would find a home in Goffstown. Lisa however was not happy with leaving her best friend Janet Lavigne, who had lived next door to us for the past 4 years and they were both in the same class at Bartlett. This meant Lisa would still be part of the Goffstown school system but would be going to a different school, Maple Ave. We still had our dog Gretchen.
To make things more difficult, somehow Joanne insisted that she was going to get the bedroom upstairs and Lisa would share a bedroom with Donna downstairs. We should have put our foot down on that one but we didn’t. Joanne and Donna should have shared the same room and Lisa would have had her own bedroom. Well, somehow Dick and I didn’t stand up for Lisa on that one. Lisa started to get to know some of the neighbor kids but somehow by the time school started, the surrounding friends went back to their own friends. It was a hard time for Lisa, I felt bad. She was 8 and we figured she would snap out of it.
Mom, loved her apartment and her living with our family. Since she didn’t have to go outside to get to our part of the home, she could just come into our living room from her hallway. She would get ready for the evening, put her bathrobe on, get her cigarettes and oftentimes we would all watch TV together, play scrabble, make pop corn or just chat. We all enjoyed having her around, these were very good years for Mom. She had her 1975 light blue Nova, her new found freedom, her part time job at the Messenger, family and friends.
These were the best of times, these were the worst of times. Keeping it all together was a bit demanding, not so much our family life but the book shop. Although, we were growing, so were our debts both personal and business. Where I use to pay the bills in 30 days, I was now paying them in 90 days. I remember at the beginning when we first bought the Messenger, how I would get frustrated because it took so long to pay the bills, I had plenty of money in the checking account, so I would be paying bills very promptly, so much so that Gerry Allard told me that I should wait the 30 day period, to build up money and use it for inventory. I learned that trick pretty fast, no problem, just buy more inventory, that was fun and it seemed that everything that was bought, just turned over, we had a very high rate of turning our inventory.
So by 1980, we are looking for avenues to get more capital, thinking that Gerry Allard owned 51% of the company, you would think that he would be interested in giving us more capital to build and grow but to no avail, he was a silent partner in many more ways than one.
By this time Donna and Joanne are also working on weekends at the book shop, because we have many book fairs to go to, they are taking care of Saturday’s. We also hired a bookkeeper Priscilla Lambert, who we met through Emmaus House. She was a gem. An extra clerk for Thursday nights and sometimes on Saturday. So the payroll was increasing and so were our sales.
In March we have 3 parishes in NH that have scheduled Ray, to perform concerts. Dick and I take upon ourselves, to co-ordinate all three, to pick Ray up and at this time he arrives at our new place on Henry Bridge Road.
I remember 2 parishes, Sacred Heart in Laconia with Fr. Paul Montminy and St. Joseph in Salem with Fr. Marc Montminy. Twin brothers. Dick and I went to Fr. Marc’s ordination. Fr. Dowd was pastor at St. Joseph and he invited us all to dinner at the rectory. I remember Fr. Marc showing us around, the bedrooms upstairs and he walked us into Fr. ???room and their was a statue of Buddha. We laughed. Downstairs, Fr. Marc fixes all of us drinks after the concert and he sits down and puts his drink on the end table and misses the table. We all laugh.
Henry Bridge Road-Moments with Ray Circa 1980-1986
Finishing a song in Joanne’s room, telling me that it had something to do with rainbows. Album came out in 1982 “By Love are We All Bound”, with the refrain: “Love is colored like a rainbow”.
Preparing dinner and was asked: “Is that your homemade spaghetti, sort of I replied, it was Dick’s sister Irene’s recipe.”
Preparing green beans, washing and cutting the tips, why are you cutting the tips? “Don’t know, I have always cut them.”
Loading the dishwasher and rinsing: “why rinse? Answer: “There is no scrub man inside the dishwasher”. We laugh.
Another time I decide to make us a nice lunch and I have a new recipe, tuna and cheese melts. Dick was a little nervous about how it would come out. Once you let the man take over the kitchen, you can’t do anything right, not even cut a cucumber right, Don’t laugh, this really happened and Donna can verify it. I had also sewed new place mats with matching napkins.
Lisa one Sunday morning wanted Ray to sit with her for breakfast. So we are all sitting at the kitchen table and Lisa is on the deacon bench, reading the Sunday funnies. Ray and I laugh and I think he makes a comment, like, didn’t you ask me to share breakfast with you? I was a little embarrassed but I saw Lisa looking up from the newspaper and looking at him. She just wanted his presence and this was her way of showing that she was comfortable enough to do just that, get behind the newspaper and observe.
On one of Ray’s visits, it is his birthday and I make an angel food cake and serve it with strawberries and whipped cream. He tells me that it’s his favorite. I didn’t know, I said that it was my Dad’s favorite. We give him this very large picture with a saying, from a new collection from the artist Michael Podesta. Ray says that it was very sensual. We mail him the gift. I checked out the website and it is still for sale now in 2014. You can find Rabbi Israel online and the story behind the quotation.
Baal Shem Tov Quotation:
From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.
If we thought we had problems, the worst was yet to come
The winter months were getting on our nerves. Dick and I planned a “Winter’s Blah” party. Everyone would come dressed in a costume, they could act out their parts. It was fun and all went home feeling that soon winter would be behind us. Some of the people who came: Don & Jackie, Gerry & Judy, Judy & Tom, Skip & Gail, Lorraine & Bob Morin, Irene & Dan Duval, Diane & Steve, Phil & Sue, Lorraine & Eugene. We gave out a few prizes and Bob who came has Emmet the Clown, won. Besides the fact that his costume was one of the best, he acted out the part throughout the whole evening, he didn’t say one solitary word. Must have been really hard.
In May Dick and the girls gave me a surprise birthday party. It was my 39th birthday, so I really wasn’t expecting it. The family had taken me to Hanover House, my favorite place and when we returned, everyone was there to greet me. It was very nice. Dick, the girls & Mom did a great job.
Around this time Dick and I had visited this new restaurant in Pinardville, “The Captain’s House”. We ordered our meal, fish but it was all fried. Dick came home and during the night, he had indigestion. The first time that this happened we didn’t think much of it but after the second time, Dick decided to make an appointment with Doctor Dupuis. Well, he never made it to that appointment.
The Wednesday night before Donna’s high school graduation, he mowed the lawn, we were getting ready for the big party on Saturday. Also, that same evening we were going to our nephew’s Mark’s graduation. Dick must have been rushing and also was picking up branches etc. He came into the house looking pretty worn out. I said, you better lie down and rest and I will go take a shower. When I came into the bedroom Dick was in a lot of pain and said you better call an ambulance. The rest was a nightmare. I followed the ambulance and waited in the ER. One of the EMT’s, a lady said to me that he had a heart attack but that he would be alright.
The next morning when I visited him in the ICU, he was throwing up, something that I had never seen him to before. Dick had never been sick in the 20 years that we had been married. Maybe a cold or so but I can’t remember any incidents.
I am not liking the fact that he is throwing up but the nurse assures me that it is normal with all the medications that he has been given.
Donna on that evening was at a Senior dance. I never interrupted her that evening. The next day I know that she went to Church and prayed. Fr. Bouley also asked the congregation to pray for Dick.
Needless to say we had no Graduation party for Donna. The 3 girls, Mom and I and Yvonne came to the graduation and afterwards we went to the “88 Restaurant” on Market street.
Donna 1981 Graduation
Goffstown High School
Doctor Lawrence was Dick’s cardiologist. He told us that Dick had a major heart attack on the left side of the heart and that he was lucky to have survived. There is no mending of the heart after such an attack.
I remember Lisa coming into my bed one evening and asking me if Dad was going to die. I replied: “No, he’s going to be okay.” Like I knew the future but what do you say to an 8 year old, when they ask such a question?
Dick was in the hospital on Father’s Day and I remember that he was nervous about taking a stress test the next day. He passed the stress test and came home shortly afterwards.
Dick and I listened to the nutritional and health benefits of changing our lifestyle. I took most of the summer off from the book shop. Mom, Donna and Joanne took over. Lisa was home with Dick and I. We played a lot of UNO together.
In August, Dick and I were scheduled to go to this big convention on Evangelization in Hartford, CT. Ray was going to be the MC and also perform a concert. We are going to represent K&R Music and also bring books to sell.
Mom, Donna, Dick & I, pack up the station wagon and an attached U-Haul and off we go, this is in late August, a little over 2 months, after Dick’s heart attack.
We arrive at the Civic Center and Ray and Bill greet us warmly. We begin to set up and later go out to dinner together.
This particular group that were running the event were from the Charismatic persuasion. Not Ray’s strong suit, if you get what I mean. The Charismatic people sometimes act like they are the only ones who have received the Holy Spirit. To this day I have no idea why Ray was chosen to lead it all. Bill tell me when Ray is up on stage being MC, that this was not his best talent, that Ray struggles.
We are very busy at our booth, one reason is because Ray is the MC and the other, we always bring a wide range of book selections. I do my homework and always check to see who the speakers are going to be and follow through in ordering their books, if they are authors or just simply going with the theme of the speakers and the convention.
After the Saturday night concert, we all meet for drinks and I mean many drinks, we probably sat and talked for a good 3 hours. The concert was very good, as usual, and we are all relieved that the weekend is almost over.
On Sunday, after we are all packed and almost ready to go back to NH and Ray and Bill to NY, we walk around Hartford to find a place for dinner. There are hardly any restaurants opened. We find a restaurant but by the time it came to order we decide to go elsewhere. Ray was being bothered by people who were at the convention. Kind of a teasing kind of way and Ray wanted to relax and not have to “put on” another performance.
We find a nice quiet Chinese restaurant. We enjoy food and drinks and return to our hotel rooms. We all leave the next day.
As I look back, I realize how dangerous this was for Dick to be carrying all these boxes. I know that we all did our share but I’m sure that Dick did more than his share, as always.
During this time, I had started taking piano lessons from Vivian. Joanne also. Most of the time, I was her last student, good thing because if you remember Vivian, she loved to talk. We both shared many moments together. One day in early December, I came back to the book shop and Dick tells me that he had a little episode. I said how little? He explains the symptoms and I say let’s go to the ER.
After being checked out, the Cardiologists tell us that Dick had a small heart attack. This was the beginning of many tests, results and decisions.
By-Pass Heart Surgery, was a new procedure and fairly safe, after much talking back and forth with the professionals and our family, it was decided that Dick would have the surgery. We scheduled it for January 15, 1982 at Dartmouth Medical Center.
Dick was now at CMC and it was getting close to Christmas. He stayed 10 days. I really don’t know how I got through the holidays, what with the book shop and the family. I now that I didn’t have time to shop, I bought each girl a nice new night gown and that was it. To our surprise the girls and Mom got us a nice big microwave. Remember how big they were in those days?
It is now December 27th and things have quieted down, so we hoped. In the middle of the night, Lisa comes into our bedroom to tell us that there is smoke in the house. I say it’s the wood stove and not to worry about it, I tell her to go on the couch to sleep, since it is far away from the wood stove. A little later, she comes back and tells me that it’s much worse. I call the fire department and all hell breaks loose. The firemen arrive and tell us to get our purses and keys to our cars and leave the premise. We all park our cars in the Church parking lot and wait for things to settle down. When all is said and done the firemen let us return to our home and tell us that there was a fire in the wall. The wall that was connected to the kitchen and Lisa’s and Donna’s bedroom, the wall where the wood stove was situated. It seems that the wood stove should never had been set up on an inner wall, that it should have been an outside wall. Evidently the former owners never received a permit. We later gave the wood stove to Sue Richer’s cousin Janet Tremblay.
Bobby was living in the attic at this time, college vacation, and Mom had a really hard time waking him up. Bobby said he taught he was dreaming. That’s Bobby for you.
One of the reasons that the fire alarm didn’t go off was that it wasn’t plugged in. Believe it or not it was an electric fire alarm. The Sunday before Dick had made bacon (Yes, bacon, believe or not again). Dick had pulled the plug and forgot to plug it back in.
We had Ronnie Gagnon come to the house to evaluate the situation. Now Ronnie is a very busy contractor but because Dick is scheduled for an operation in January, he puts us first on his list. Thank God for people like Ronnie. Lorraine’s Dad George, his the electrician and Emile Beaulieu comes in to give us an estimate of the new carpets.
We could have gone to live in a hotel but we decided between my Mom’s place (no damage there) and the larger living are space our family would be more comfortable. The insurance would have paid. I took out all the new curtains and did them myself and sent a bill to the insurance company.
That was the end of 1981 but what would happen to our family in 1982? Only God knew.
The following is a prayer that I found recently (July 2015) hand written by me on MBS note paper that was attached to a Messenger Book Shop card with a 1981 calendar in back.
Bernard of Clairveaux
On the Song of Songs
Solomon 1:3 "Thy name is an ointment poured fourth, therefore do the virgins love thee".
The Holy Spirit works in us and through us. We receive and we give. This verse deals with the gifts of God we are to pass on to others. "Thy name is an ointment poured forth."
We must be careful not to give to someone else what was intended for ourselves. We must also be sure that we do not keep that which was given to us to be passed on to others. In other words, you will lose what is yours if you start giving it away before your soul is half-filled, but you are obligated to pass on what is surplus.
By this time we had many people praying for our family
Good thing because when you are going through this kind of hell, you cannot pray, you just go through the motions. You are in shock, you bury your feelings just so that you can stay alive. I remember one of our customers he was called *Dom, can’t remember the rest, and he shared with us how much we were struggling with everything that we had to overcome and to me his sharing with us, his empathy, was a much needed prayer.
The day before Dick’s operation is on a Thursday, January 14th. We arrive in Hanover, NH and Dick get’s prepared for the next day. This is the old Mary Hitchcock Hospital. The place is a zoo, the hospital is at full capacity. The orderly tells me to get plenty of rest because Dick is going to need my full support once the operation is over. The orderly explains to me that they don’t have enough staff to give the patients all the attention they need, meaning the emotional support. I understood. That evening about 5-6 doctors come into the room to introduce themselves to Dick and I. I am aghast and say so and tell all of them to get plenty of sleep.
I go to my room across the street from the hospital. It is mid-January and it is cold and there has been a blizzard that day. I decide to just leave the car in the hotel parking lot and just walk around town. I know that I will have to have someone jump start the car when we are ready to leave. I don’t worry about the car after making that decision.
The next morning I see Dick and someone takes me to a waiting area and tells me that it will take about 5 ½ hours to perform the surgery. I have a book with me by Martin Luther King Jr. “Strength to Love”.
Donna, Joanne & Mom are in charge of the book shop and I am alone, I never asked anyone to be with me.
I just about sit down and here comes my brothers Eddie & Don with Sue & Jackie. I am very surprised and very happy to have someone with me. I remember that Sue had just had a back operation and asking her how are you going to sit all day. Of course, she said: “No big deal or something like that, all I need is a straight chair.”
5 ½ hours turns into 6 ½ hours and no one comes in to tell me what is going on. I am getting a little stressed out. A little while longer a doctor comes in the tell us that all went well and the reason that it took longer than expected was that they had a hard time with the IV. Dick, being a meat cutter, he was very muscular in that area.
I don’t remember seeing him that evening but the next morning, it is a very small waiting are with one phone to connect to ICU and it is packed with people. I finally see Dick and he is not alone, there are about 6 patients in the recovering ICU. Dick still has the tube and he is very bloated up, I check his legs and they have iodine all over them. This is the right leg that they used some of his veins to use for the blood flow to his heart. I remember someone telling me that across Dick’s bed was a 70 year old man who had just had the same operation and he was doing good.
Two nurses from CMC came to visit Dick, they were part of a rehab program that they had just started. Dick would be their first heart patient, if he agreed.
Dick was doing well and already doing a little physical therapy in this bed. A few nights later, they transported him to a regular room. Dick likes to tell the story about the transfer. It seems that all day they promised him that they would transfer, by nighttime around 7:30 p.m. I left to go back to the hotel and he was still in ICU. Dick tells me the next morning: Around 11:00 p.m., someone tells him it’s time to move and pretty much leaves him to figure it all out. The nurse or aid just walks ahead of him and he has to deal with the IV and himself. We laughed about it later but it wasn’t funny at the time, it was a bit scary.
By Thursday he was sent home, that is 6 days after surgery. They needed the bed, they had a full house.
Needless to say I was not ready for him to come home yet, in my mind that is, I was prepared to wait a few more days. Nevertheless, I started to make arrangements for the battery to get jumped and we were on our way home. Dick wanted to stop for lunch and I remember that he had on a gray sweater and his colors were not the best but what the heck, it was time to celebrate. The doctors had given him the okay to have 2 martinis per day, that it was good for the heart. This is one prescription that Dick never faltered on.
Dick never complained about his experience and the pain that followed. He was a quick healer and one of the youngest patients to have had a heart by-pass. Besides, his heart condition, he was in pretty good shape.
After a few weeks, I went back to work full time. The family settled into a routine and the book shop was not that busy that time of the year, so we could breath a little.
Dick had a complete blood transfusion. In those days, no one who gave blood was checked out for the HIV-Aids Virus. When the Aids epidemic hit the United States, starting around this time, Dick and I were concerned that whatever blood Dick received could have had the virus. We counted the years as they went by and after 10 years we knew Dick was in the clear.
At Dick’s 6 week check up, we asked the doctors if Dick could fly? An hour flight to Syracuse, NY to visit Ray & Bill. The doctors gave the okay and we made plans to go the last week of February. I had never flown before and it had been a tough winter with the airlines, many cancelled flights because of ice on the wings etc. I tried not to think about it and Dick and I looked forward to our visit. Ray & Bill had mentioned that they don’t do this sort of thing too often, invite people into their home for an overnight. We were to stay 2 nights.
We land in Syracuse and Bill & Ray pick us up, it is about an hours drive to their home in Trumansburg. We chit chat get caught up on some key points since we last saw one another.
They have a beautiful home set back in the countryside near Ithaca and Cornell University. Ray has 5 beautiful white dogs, can’t remember the breed but I remember that Ray feed them cooked hamburg when we were there. The home has 6 bathrooms. Two master suites, one on the main floor which is Ray’s. The other downstairs is Bill. That bathroom is gigantic. I say to myself, I guess they are living a celibate life. Two men living in the same house, I was relieved. There is a guest bedroom very nice for Dick and I. A den, large living room with dining area with a grand piano. Bill plays us a few pieces while we are there. The kitchen was an eat in kitchen. There is a nice porch overseeing the back yard.
Friday evening we have drinks before dinner and steaks for dinner with wine.
We brought gifts from NH A blessing cup and plate from our potter Wayne Bunnell in Manchester and some candy from Van Otis.
Saturday I remember all of us going outside with the dogs and Ray says to watch out for the poop. One of his female dogs, his favorite comes around me and gets a little friendly. Ray is amazed because she doesn’t really like strangers. I feel good about it, I must have been at peace about the visit.
We take a brief nature walk and come to a body of water, where Ray had one of his pictures taken for the album "By Love are We All Bound published in 1982. Th picture that I posted in 1979.
Ray mentioned that Mary Lu Walker lived not that far away but we never visited her. Later through the years, he told us that it was too bad that Mary Lu never came to NH. Although she was invited, she had a very busy family life. We had everything arranged for her in 1979, she would have stayed with Mom but it never came to be.
We go into Corning to visit the plant and I buy Mom a dinner dish that she has broken from her set. Later I find out that it was a lunch plate that she had broken. We visit an antique shop and an ice cream parlor.
When we come home I remember doing a little hand sewing for some of their clothes. The only thing I really remember is a leather jacket of Ray’s, it needed stitching in the lining under the arms.
In the evening we meet two of their friends at a local restaurant. Bill has a toothache and mentions that he is glad that the salad is not cold. My fork is dirty and I place on my left side, turned over, next to Ray, he notices and makes a comment to Bill. I am glad Mom taught me the proper etiquette. Afterwards we go to Cornell for a flute concert. Dick and I are seated together, the other 4, somewhere in the concert hall.
Sunday afternoon we all drive to Syracuse for our return trip to NH. We have a Cursillo closing that evening. Don’t remember if Dick was up to that?
I don’t remember if Ray came to NH that year but I’m pretty sure something was going on, since many parishes were interested in having him. Most of the times that Ray came a parish would have him come for the Mass on Sunday and a concert either the Saturday before or Sunday night. Of course, we sold all the music at these events, participated in many lunches and dinners. We were practically his agents in NH.
Dick is recovering and the book shop was in full swing. The Concord Monitor did a write up on our shop and we were interviewed. There was a picture but we didn’t keep a copy but I remember it wasn’t that much after Dick came back to work.
Dick returned to work part time but it didn’t take long for him to get back into the groove.
Joanne graduated in June from Goffstown High School and we had a big family gathering and some of Joanne’s friends. Donna and I had made Joanne a rainbow cake and 3 small loaf pan rainbow cakes for her friends. It was a much happier time for our family than the precious year.
That July Dick, Lisa and I took a week or so off to go to NY. We take in Lake George, we stayed at The Holiday Inn. We visit Ray & Bill in Trumansburg for a few days.
Dick, Lisa and I take off one of the days and went swimming at the gorge. It was very nice. One day we take off with Ray and go to a tag sale and visit Bill at their place of business. Ray introduces us to a man, who lives next door to K&R Music and he has a large field of flowers that he is growing. They are gladioli and I tell him that my Mom used to grow these and that they are a lot of work because you need to remove them from the earth every season. They were in full bloom when we visited. Beautiful many of them red.
A few remarks from Ray during our visit stayed with me. They had just seen us a few months back and the other about having to re-make the beds. Before we left I told Ray to give me some clean sheets so that I can make the beds and he declined the offer. I guess we were pushing a bit by visiting these bachelors two times within a year. We never returned to Trumansburg.
The book shop was very popular and we were invited to bring our books to many conferences, whatever topic, we would be asked, not only by the Catholic church but many protestants as well as evangelical Christians. We had a wide range of books and some of them not quite fit the needs of the other. Eventually, we took a stand and started carrying books that were part of our philosophy. It was a hard choice but one that had to be made. This action forced the more Evangelical Christians to start their own book ministry and another book store opened in the Manchester area.
In the Fall we invited Bea Verdi to do a concert in NH. Bea Verdi was an aritst on the K&R Music label. Her music was in the Motown tradition (she had composed music for many of their artists) Bea had a very charismatic appeal and Dick and I loved her voice and music. We broadened our horizons and went full speed ahead, thinking that we would get the Evangelical Christians. Bea was very conservative in her Catholic beliefs and I wondered how come Ray’s company brought her into their midst. We put a deposit on a large place in Bedford called Peter C’s, a popular concert venue. When we booked we had high expectations and booked the larger room to accommodate 500 people. We publicized on a Christian radio network and tried to get as much information out there. Somehow, we just couldn’t see the numbers adding up, so we changed the room to accommodate about 50 people. We were lucky to have that many. The only people that I remember coming was Fr. Leo LeBlanc, Fr. Larry Hughes & Brother Stan, a Capuchin. He loved Bea and he was her biggest fan after that night.
Fr. Gerry Auger suggested that we invite Bea to sing to a group in our parish church hall. A group called “Les Coeurs Joyeux”, “The Joyful Hearts”. They were already coming together that Saturday evening and Fr. Gerry said that we had an audience that would appreciate music. We planned the evening with Ollie & Paul St. Hilaire, parish friends and prayer meeting people who also knew Mom. We set up Bea with her keyboard, which we rented and put her on stage and prayed that she would do okay. A few songs followed and we could tell that the crowd was not impressed with being sung religious songs. They were down right insulted. Who could blame them? Shortly, thereafter we packed up and went to the religious education center and sang along with Bea and somehow managed to save the evening. It was embarrassing for everyone. Bea had written a song for John Lennon’s wife Yoko called: “I’m Still Alive”. She sang it to us that evening and gave us a copy of the music. I gave the original to Steve Russell, because he loves The Beatles.
During Bea and her husband’s stay, they were at our home on Henry Bridge Road. It happened to be Friday evening for dinner at our home and we were told that they had to eat fish, we were not prepared because this was told to us just awhile before we got the cooking started. On Saturday evening we take them to Traver’s Tavern and Bea makes sure to tell her husband that he cannot have Shrimp Scampi because it has wine in it and he is alcoholic. This must have embarrassed him because it certainly embarrassed us.
One thing that surprised me about the whole weekend is that Ray & Bill did not come to NH to support Bea or us for that matter. That whole weekend cost us about $500.
Our sales were going down and during this time we found out from our pastor Fr. Gerry Auger and Fr. Leonard Foisy, an associate pastor from St. Edmond’s that a Rob Rucinski who was in the diaconate program was contemplating starting a book shop. Dick and I were devastated and somehow we had this idea to invite him and his wife Jay to partner up with us and run the Messenger Book Shop. At this time they were living in Enfield, NH and Rob ran the gift shop at LaSalette. He had done a great job of making it grow and we believed by their presence we could build up our book shop ministry. Rob & Jay met with Gerry Allard and made a plan to buy 49% of his shares, leaving Dick and I with 49% and Gerry 2%. We put them on our medical insurance, paid them the same salary as us.
Of course I was the most relieved of the pressure of the bills, Rob and Jay took this over and were doing a great job with letters and phone calls.
I concentrated on the books and Dick kept to the music. It was understood on the onset that Mom and the girls would stay at the shop. We had no contract whatsoever.
This was in the late Fall, so we were swinging into the busy season and we worked our way through the changes.
But Rob was not used to having a woman be ahead of the whole process, after all I had 7 years of experience by that time, this did not sit well with Rob. Jay on the other hand stayed in the upstairs office and did her thing.
Right before Christmas I sprang my ankle and was laid up in bed for a bit. I know that I did not put up one Christmas decoration at home, the store had been done right on the first Sunday of Advent. A tradition that we kept throughout the years.
After the holidays, we decided to bring the whole music department and gift items to one floor. Dick & Rob pushed through the back wall and extended the area for more displaying of the music and a better watchful eye, since music is one of the more expensive items and cassettes and are easy to steal.
There was still plenty of room to do the receiving & a desk for Donna who was now doing the bookkeeping. Doing a great job. Our accountant Gerry Dupont, said that it was the best kept books that he had ever seen. We were proud.
Rob also built a new counter for the register. This kept them busy and I concentrated on the customers and the books.
The first problem we had was that Rob & Jay wanted to bring in statues to the store, they had a friend who did ceramics. We weren’t pleased but said okay but after awhile Dick and I couldn’t handle the whole thing of the statues. We should have listened to a warning when we first went to visit them in their home in Enfield, when Rob pointed us to an Infant of Prague and told us that Jay had a very large devotion to the Infant Jesus.
I’m thinking February will be better for us this year, since we have more help and can do more book fairs etc. Not so, February of 1983, the sales were down $3000 from the year before. What’s wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, our accountant told us that the Rucinski’s should have come into the picture with capital. Good point, I wish someone would have told us that before we were knee deep in trouble.
One of the many problems that followed happened when I booked 2 book fairs on the same weekend. I remember Dick & Rob did a Liturgical book fair together and on the same weekend I scheduled a book signing at Brookside Congregational Church for an author that they invited. I asked Jay to join me that this would be a great first start, since the speaker was a woman and very progressive. Jay, says to me that she has a personal retreat that she was suppose to go to that day and tells me that she was going to pray about it. After, a few days, she tells me that she is going on the retreat. I am livid. I don’t believe it, here we are paying them the same salary as ours and she refused to come with me. Donna and Joanne worked at the book shop.
Ray was scheduled for a Concert right before Easter and we did the usual preparations, come to find out they weren’t coming to the Concert either.
We were so stressed out that every night we would sit at the table and down those Manhattans.
By the time Ray arrived for the Concert, Dick and I are besides ourselves.
Ray looks at the situation and tells us it’s either you or them, someone has to leave and he hoped it would be the Rucinski’s.
A few days after Ray left, the Rucinski’s gave us a 2 week notice. We were so relieved that all I remember saying was: “Forget the 2 week notice, you can leave immediately”. The next thing we knew, they asked us for 2 weeks of pay, we were astonished but kept our mouth shut, wrote out the check, goodbye and good riddance.
That had to be the best Easter we ever had. Ray must have been praying hard because our prayers were answered.
Gerry Allard was not pleased with the situation, he washed his hands of the whole scenario, told us that we would have to pick up the 49% of the shares that were the Rucinski’s and start paying him by the month. Pay him with what? We not only lost about $3000 with this endeavor, we also lost customers. Many of our customers after encountering Rob, took a dislike to him. Later we found out that he had been very rude to some and it took them awhile to come back to us. What a mess we had made for ourselves. Mom, of course kept her mouth shut during this ordeal, after all the decision was made by Dick and I and she didn’t want to interfere with our business, well in the decision that is.
We had no signed contract with Rob and Jay, nothing to say that you can’t start your own business in the same area or time constraint. Within a few months they had opened up their own place down town. Called “The Covenant”. We were devastated, as was Mr. Gleason from Cathedral Goods. He came to visit us one day and told us about the gall of Rob, of actually sending Fr. Foisy to speak to him about being part of their business. He was so upset about it that he just had to talk to us about it, we had never exchanged even a hand shake before that whole business started.
To make matters worse, Rob was now a Deacon at St. Edmond Parish, we had to face him and Jay on many Sundays. Dick and I were still very involved and so were the girls. It became unbearable. Fr. Auger wanted nothing to do with hearing about our plight, he had his Deacon and he was happy. Fr. Foisy, we didn’t even speak to. At one point I had a letter ready to go to the Bishop about Fr. Foisy. Later on Dick and I found out that he had done many such things at other parishes, putting his nose where it didn’t belong. Fr. Foisy was petrified about my letter going out to the Bishop, he approached Dick and told him so. I backed away.
Mother's Day 1983
Henry Bridge Road
Late summer of 1983, Dick & I went to Orlando to represent K&R Music. Ray was giving workshops and a concert, not sure about the concert. The couple who wrote “Share the Sunlight” program were also giving workshops. I remember going to one of Ray’s workshops, sitting in the back and someone asked the question: “How do you write your songs, how do you get your inspiration?” Ray answered: “By a lot of hard work”.
Ray and the couple who wrote “Share the Sunlight” decide to take Ray to Epcot and we are left behind and go swimming at the pool. After all we have to learn to “Share the Sunlight”/Ray. Anyway, a woman comes up to me before I enter the pool and says something like: “It must be nice to be rich and famous?”, meaning Ray, I can’t remember saying anything, I was just shocked to hear those words, to see that this is how people look at Ray. If they only knew how much struggle it was to keep K&R Music afloat. When we flew home we opted to give our tickets and wait for the next plane, Delta would give us 2 free tickets for another trip. After waiting a bit, the airline didn’t need our seats after all, well, maybe but they had 2 first class seats available for the exchange of the two coach seats. You bet we took those seats, got treated like loyalty. Not a bad way to end our weekend?
We had been parishioners of St. Edmond’s since 1966 and 17 years later, we just couldn’t handle the stress and proceeded to say our goodbyes. We had many families that we had become close to, many knew our story, others just heard bits and pieces. Many came to us with compassion and understood, others wanted us to re-consider. But the pain, the hurt, the betrayals were just too much to bare. They were very sad about our leaving, we were too but we just couldn’t face the Rucinski’s any more. When Dick approached Anita Plourde the director of our religious education program and told her we were pulling Lisa out of the Confirmation program, she didn’t even blink an eye. Father Auger, couldn’t have cared less, he was happy that he had his deacon, something that he had once asked me to pray for. Watch out what you pray for, it might come true.
Dick and I, Donna, Joanne, Lisa and Mom looked around for a nice wholesome parish and joined Blessed Sacrament Parish on South Elm Street. After talking to Jeanne Martineau, the director of religious education, we enrolled Lisa into the Confirmation program. Donna and Joanne joined the Folk Group and Lisa soon followed. Dick and I stayed in the background. The Capuchins were very nice and we liked their humble presence. At this time Vivian Vago was the organist and in charge of the Choir. I remember singing at Midnight Mass.
By this time we had taken an equity home against our home on Henry Bridge Road to put in the business and take care of some of our debt. This helped a little but in the long run, we realized we needed more capitol. We wrote letters to all the pastors in the Diocese to show them that we really needed their support. Many of them returned their responses. We started to give more discounts to get more of their business. We scheduled more parish book fairs. We were drained physically, mentally and spiritually.
In May we met Jackie Rousseau a Shaklee distributor who helped us gain some sense of our deteriorating physical state. We also went full speed ahead to tell people about our new found state of being. It was like Marriage Encounter all over again. We were given a boast, something to maybe get us out of our state of mind etc.
Shaklee products are not the cheapest products on the market but they are the best of the best. So we buy more, spend more, the whole family is on board as well as Mom.
There is an old philosophy that says, that if you keep doing what you are doing, things don’t change. How true, we just didn’t know how we could turn this around. It seems that we were going deeper and deeper into debt and deeper and deeper into despair. We should have quit while we were ahead. Ahead, you are thinking, what is she talking about. We are going backwards but we move on, pushing, pushing, pushing. It’s our ministry, we are loved, people need us, what would we do without our book shop? What would Dick and I do? Dick go back to meat cutting and myself in another person’s or company’s book store. When you are used to being your own boss, you don’t want to be under someone else’s direction. The freedom of making your own decisions is freedom, even though hard to do at times, they are your choices.
Life moves on and we move with the flow but we are faced with many more challenges.
In March my sister Susie calls from Hayward, California and informs the family that her husband Jeff, tried to commit suicide. He was now in a hospital in San Diego. A Navy hospital, where Jeff was a Chaplain. Mom wants to be with her and I go with Mom to be with Susie. Around the same time, Connie, Tom, Misty and Nicole are moving from Texas to Seattle and they have a stop a Susie’s house in between. Can you believe that they were there at Susie’s home when Mom and I arrived and Mom and I had to go to a motel. Anyway, that’s the least of it all. Heather was almost 15 at the time, it was difficult.
The first evening Tom and Connie were in charge of dinner, we had burgers on the grill. I remember Tom accusing me of trying to make him change his believes with God etc. Finally, Mom tells him that she was the one sending all the books and pamphlets to them. Of course, Tom never apologized and I didn’t have any high expectations. The house was a disaster, unbelievable. When Connie and Tom left the next day, Mom, Susie and I spent many hours bringing it back to order because Jeff’s dad Eric and his second wife Billie were coming on Sunday.
Before Tom and Connie left we all went to San Diego to see Jeff and I remember Tom saying something like, he’s not too anxious to see you, Jackie, he was a bit afraid to be confronted. I took as a sign to be carful and kept my distance and my mouth shut.
Mom, Susie and I went to China town and had a nice meal, did a little shopping and we all took the trolley. The funny thing was that at 65 years of age you only had to pay 5cents. I tell Mom and she says but I’m only turning 65 in May. Needless to say, she paid the $1 fare.
Somehow we all prepared dinner for everyone, which I’m surprised thinking about it, because Eric loved to take people out to dinner but these were not the best of times for Eric.
One of the things that I remember about that Sunday is that Eric, Susie and I went to buy flowers etc for her flower beds and Eric paid for all of it. Don’t ask me why we did this, maybe, to brighten up Susie’s life.
Another important conversation is that Eric told Susie that if she wanted to divorce Jeff, he would accept it and not hold it against her. When Susie did divorce Jeff, Eric was not as gracious to her as he was in March of 1985.
On returning to NH, not that much afterwards, we get a notice from the president of Granite State Machine that we had 45 days to vacate the premises. A letter brought to us by Maurice Allard was the worst news possible for our already floundering business. I called Gerry Allard and he tells me that his hands are tied, that his brother Ronald is now the president.
We start looking for another store. Somehow, we were not ready to call it quits. After 10 years we were just about getting our feet wet, you might call it drowning in our own sweat and tears. We knew that the rent was going to be higher than what we were paying, $500 per month, including utilities. We had to settle for a smaller store. We sold many of our cases, jewelry cases etc and kept things to a minimum. We were keeping the beautiful book cases that my Uncle Ben and Ronnie Lesmerises had built. They would fit very well into our new store at 1367 Elm Street.
Remembering that a certain priest back in 1975, admonished us for not advertising about our moving the store from 173 Hanover Street to 345 Kelley Street, I wasn’t going to make that same mistake twice.
This time I had nice folded post cards printed with a picture of the building, informing our charge customers of our new place. Gray paper with blue ink. It was very impressive. I also had a nice plaque made showing that the Messenger Book Shop had been in our hands from 1975-1985. Almost to the day.
Once everything was in place and we had our act together, we looked forward to starting over. We were downtown again and this time in a very nice respectable location. But the rent doubled. We had 1 parking place for our vehicle and the parking wasn’t the greatest for the customers. Elm Street, had always been congested but not that much more than Kelley Street but just as busy.
As you can see our life evolved, revolved around the book shop. We worked harder and still the sales were not going up. We incurred more personal debt and more business debt but forged onward.
We took out an equity loan for our house, managed to get about $25,000 to put into the company. This was no ordinary equity loan from a bank, we went to Household Beneficial because we really didn’t think a bank would loan us any money, we were high risk. Not sure if we even went to a bank but I think that we did. So we now had 2 loans to pay for our home and we couldn’t afford to pay us too much more from the company. In retrospect we should have just taken the $25, 000 and build our inventory but I paid past bills instead. Just couldn’t stand the stress of it all, although Dick was very good at taking the phone calls.
Ray came for more concerts and we were happy to once again keep it all going. Ray and Bill were experiencing the same difficulties and I remember that someone gave them money so that they could produce Ray’s “Ever Bless” cassette. No album this time, just a cassette no CD. They just didn’t have the capital, sound familiar? This was to be Ray’s last new music published by K&R Music. It was also sad to see Ray struggling with his dream(s) of being his own publisher. After all the stories that Dick and I heard about FEL, Ray’s first publisher. I can’t remember much, only that I don’t believe that Ray walked out of FEL with much.
And the beat goes on…..
I am at my wits end and tell Dick we need to find more capital and the only way would be to sell our home, make a profit and move into an apartment or buy a smaller place in Goffstown. Since Lisa was just starting high school, I promised her that she would stay at Goffstown High School. I remembered only too well how moving to Florida effected my life and I didn't want this to happen to her. Lisa knew that I would keep my promise to her.
25th Wedding Anniversary
St. Hilaire Family
Donna and Joanne were out of high school and already talking about finding an apartment together. Mom, on the other hand was devastated. She taught she was there for life. Well, there wasn’t anyone more devastated than Dick and I. We loved our nice big farm house and loved having Mom with us. At this time, Judy at 435 Dubuque Street on the West side was losing her tenants on the second floor. Judy, Tom and Matthew lived on the first floor. It took a bit of persuasion to get Mom to make the decision but she eventually caved in and said yes. I remember one of the last times Mom came downstairs with her cigarette in hand and shared her feelings with me about the move. She said that Tom was okay but he wasn’t at all like Dick. She never really felt close to Tom and repeated this to me several times.
This year was a very tumultuous year. On March 10th, Eddie was operated on because he had a brain aneurysm and it exploded during the operation, somehow they save his life. But Eddie was no longer the same Eddie that we all knew. The doctors even told Sue that she would be better off if she put him in an institution. They gave her a month to see if there would be any progress. Lately, she told me that she had used music therapy and this helped enough for the doctors to let him get settled into family life once again. I never mention that Memere Marineau died on March 10th in 1964.
A month later Dick’s sister Rollande had a major cerebral hemorrhage and was put on life sustaining machine. She never woke up again. She died on Good Friday, Dick and I were the only one’s there, because her family didn’t want to see the plug being pulled out. Rollande never even breathed a single breath, she was 62 and had just retired 7 months earlier.
In May Dick lost a cousin, Claire McNeil Courchesne. She had a large growth the size of a cantaloupe when she was brought into the hospital, she died a few days later of ovarian cancer, she never went to the doctors to have it checked out.
During this time we are planning a wedding for Joanne, who was to marry Mike Towle on August 8th.
Joanne and Mike were now very involved with Amway and of course Dick and I had been very involved with Shaklee, so we knew what they were going through. They never approached us, except one time, we went to their home at 643 Union Street, one of Aunt Madeleine’s little cottage apartment. What a mistake that turned out to be. I’m sure we forewarned Joanne and Mike but Mike thought he was invincible, her found out later that Aunt Madeleine, really is a challenge and also city life was not that great either. Something Mike just couldn’t handle and who could blame him, right there on a busy street and only one parking place, who ever heart of that, right Mike.
Donna, Lisa, Dick and I prepared for the bridal shower. It was on June 28th at Belmont Hall. Marie Raiche, made the cake for the shower and the wedding, Gail & Skip prepared an elaborate hors oeuvre tray. It was very nice but many of the invited guests didn’t come, I never realized that it was the beginning of the 4th of July weekend, something that we had overlooked.
Dick and I paid for the wedding reception and had to limit it to 125 guests, of course we had to put this on a credit card, we couldn’t afford to take it out of the business. I ordered the wedding invitations from the book shop, I least I could elaborate on all the accessories etc. The wedding went off without a hitch, the pictures were taken at the cemetery on Brown Avenue and Joanne’s uncle Roland drove (a Lincoln, borrowed from Roger Pratte) the bride and groom. The ceremony was at Blessed Sacrament Church and the St. Edmond Folk Group sang. The ceremony was not a full mass and was very well accepted by Mike’s family, who do not belong to any religious affiliation. Joanne and Mike hired a 5 pc combo live music. The reception was at the Chateau. For their wedding gift Dick and I gave them luggage.
That summer I was called for jury duty in federal court, Concord. The first trial was Larry Flint, I was excused because I ran a religious book shop. Go figure! I was an alternate juror for another, something about hydro water plant. When it was time for the jury to deliberate I was excused. Can't remember what the verdict was.
In October Dick’s nephew, Roger died of a heart attack, right there on the spot where he was helping to deliver newspapers. Roger had been warned that he had a heart condition, just like Dick, but her refused any type of operation or procedure. His father Ralph and Rollande both had heart by-pass surgery after Dick.
So Mike was starting to get a little paranoid about Joanne’s family, with all the sicknesses and funerals it was hard to squeeze in a celebration in between but somehow we all managed to get through it all. The book shop however, was a different story.
Mom still worked with us a few days a week on Elm Street. Somehow, we managed to keep the place alive but barely (inventory was low). As the sales went down, so did our spirits. Dick started to work more hours as a meat cutter, traveling to Thompson’s Market in Hudson. I was left alone pretty much of the time, our dream was spinning downward and we didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In July, Dick, Lisa, Donna and I took a trip to Disney World. We put it all on American Express. This was a last ditch effort to keep things together in our family. We had promised Lisa that we would go to Disney before her 16h birthday. We went on the 4th of July for 2 weeks, Lisa turned 16 on the 25th of July. Mom and Tom Cloutier took over the Messenger but it is always super slow those 2 weeks. We should have just closed.
Disney was hot and humid. We drove down in our 1986 Dodge Caravan, stopped at Motel 6’s for rest. I had found a nice condo in Orlando for $350, owned by a couple in Manchester. It was large with a Jack & Jill bathroom, 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room and community pool. We would get to Disney late morning and stay until closing. The 4 day pass was $96 each. We didn’t go anywhere else. The other days we stayed at our condo and pool. We laugh about the way that I had planned the itinerary. All typed up on an index card. The first thing the book said not to do was go there on the first day that you arrive. Guess, right, we couldn’t wait but we were too excited. The waiting lines were humongous, the book said to go in the left lane, we did the opposite because it seemed to be shorter. You get the picture, eventually I didn’t even bring the index cards with me.
We left the park every night when it closed, got to our car and tell Dick, hurry up and max the A/C. Of course, Dick would say it takes time, you should wait a bit but our condo was only 10 minutes away, so Dick, of course listened up! He never was one to say no to his girls, which included me of course. Poor Dick, he never really had a chance, we were a bit hard on him, a bit demanding at times but he always rose to the occasion.
Condo circa 1986-1988
Dick was cooking a big breakfast, eggs, pan fries, bacon, toast, coffee, the works. Ray kind of jokes about it, knowing that these are not the best foods for Dick’s condition and says: “And then you just takes lots of vitamins to make it all okay.” Pretty funny.
Another time Ray tells me that we did a great job raising Lisa. I felt good about it because I knew that Ray had noticed that she was somewhat depressed when we first moved to Henry Bridge Rd.
Ray visited us after our 25th anniversary party and we apologize for not inviting him. Ray looks at me and says something like well, it’s not that big a deal, meaning to me that I wasn’t counting the years or something like that. Not quite sure what he meant by it.
Another time after a concert, we take out the munchies and he made a funny remark about “pigging out”. Sure, I said that’s how we unwind. I’m sure we had some good drinks to go along with the snacks.
The last time Ray came for a concert was in the Fall of 1988 St. Anthony Parish in Manchester, Fr. Fernand Croteau along with Ray Houle with his lady friend, treated our whole family for dinner. This was the first time that he shows us personal pictures of his family. Dick and I are in the cooking area and Ray is sitting on the stool and takes out a few pictures. I notice his father’s picture and tell him that he looks a lot like Tip O’Neil and Ray says, that many people have said that. Ray tells me that his brothers think he is sort of a “pansy” and I tell him that I love pansies.
In December 2000 Ray moved to VT with his partner Rich Alther. They are married a few years later. Dick and I sent them a collector's book on Vermont. I inscribe & sign it.
In early Fall, Donna is alone at the bookshop, it is a Saturday, she has left the back door open because the weather was nice. A man in the neighborhood, he has a cane, sees a suspicious young man going into the book shop, in leaving the book shop he sees him masturbating. He quickly comes into the book shop to tell her and Donna locks the doors and calls the police and Dick. The young man is charged with public exposure and Donna, Dick and the eye witness go to court, he is found guilty and somehow he is in jail on Christmas Day.
Eventually I tell Dick that I want him back at the book shop and the only alternative was to let Mom go. Before Christmas we delivered the news to Mom. We came bearing Christmas gifts mostly from the shop. Mom, didn’t say much. By this time Judy had had Katie and Mom, Judy, Matthew and Katie did a lot together. Tom always worked too many hours and was pretty exhausted by the time the weekend came around.
The ending of our dream
And back to reality
Sometime in March, we get a notice from the building management that our lease is not going to be renewed and that we have 45 days to vacate. They offered us a second floor rental and we did not accept. We had to accept that it was all over for us, we didn’t have anymore fight in us. We had to be out by May 31, 1989. We had managed to stay alive for 14 years, well not healthy alive but alive. This was one of the hardest things to accept but really we had no other choice. We proceeded to bring our prices down to 40% to 50% off, strangely enough we did rather well in May, I remember grossing over $7000. We sold some of our fixtures, cash register and misc. items to Greg & Vickie Schneider, who were going to start there own book store on Mammoth Road. We also received $1000 from them for our video library.
I called Gerry Allard to inform him of our decision, he was in Florida recovering from a heart attack, he had no desire to take it over or rescue us.
I don’t know how I managed to get up every morning to face the public, I can’t remember praying much during those days, I just went through the motions.
Dick found a full time job in Nashua, it was tough for him starting all over again.
He would come into the book shop when he could and Mom also.
I set up a PO Box to get our mail and hopefully money that was owed to us from parishes etc.
Gerry Dupont our CPA suggested that we pay off all local people first and of course we paid off K&R Music. The rest of the bills we walked away from and hoped that none of companies would force us into bankruptcy. Gerry Dupont said that since there were many small bills, nothing over $10,000, we would probably be okay. Our largest was Spring Arbor and North American Liturgy.
We might be okay with the business bills but our personal debt was overwhelming and we had no credit line anywhere. We were maxed out to the hilt.
Now we had to get ourselves back into the real world, real bills, nowhere to dip our hands into any “pockets”. We were on our own.
Between Dick and my pay, I figured we would be okay but I didn’t figure that I was going to be making only $6 per hr.
I got a job as a supervisor at B. Dalton Booksellers at the Mall of NH. I had awful hours, schedules changed weekly. Some days, 9-5, 1:30-9:30, Saturdays & Sundays. Lots of perks, good medical, dental and matching 401k. I remember asking for a raise and they gave me 10 cents more an hour, I was insulted. After all I had many responsibilities, opening and closing, banking etc. This was not a sit down job, the only time I got to sit was to count the draws and there was a stool at customer service, but we weren’t allowed to spend too much time there talking etc, it was to help the customer. There were ladders to climb and at first I was not too found of ever having to climb them. I avoided them like the plague until one Saturday a man was looking for coin books and the one he wanted wasn’t on the shelf, he looked up into over stock and said, maybe up there. My first time up wasn’t too bad and after awhile I could bring lots of books up and down. I lost 20lbs without even changing my diet.
It was very hard for me to take orders from another woman, Deborah, was the manager. She hired me right before she left to go to Ireland. She came back and gave me a nice glass bird, green of course, I still have it. Deborah was nice enough to me anyway but still it was hard to let go of total control.
I learnt a lot about books though, I figured I would take one day at a time, only one question at a time. I discovered that the section of religion was only one book case and I tried to squeeze in my own favorite authors but I had just so much place to add more suggestions. The self-help section was pretty big and also health, I concentrated my efforts on keeping up with these types of books. The classic books were easy, as well as the romance section. Cook books okay but the computer books, everyone stayed away from. The children section I had to focus a bit more on and get to know the authors, all other sections I learnt day by day.
I remember Mom coming in one time and telling Deborah that just give me 6 months and I would have the inventory down pat. That was a nice boast, Mom. Another time that Mom came in was to show me pictures that had just come in from Sears. Susie had given Mom a gift to have her picture taken more professionally. I remember Mom saying to me that she felt a little uncomfortable with a single picture of herself but accepted it has a nice gift. Susie and Mom had pictures taken of the both of them. Our family loved the picture with Mom’s silver hair and light pink sweater. We have many different sizes throughout our souvenirs and one mustn’t’ forget all the times that we have posted this particular picture on Facebook etc.
I missed the fact that you couldn’t take time to converse with people that you knew and the customers. Messenger Book Shop thrived on this kind of contact and we had built good relationships this way. Big companies, we were the sister product of Barnes & Nobles, don’t want you to digress on company time. This small store had over a million dollars of inventory and the store turned that inventory around very quickly. Being the only book store in the Mall gave us the challenge and it was very challenging to squeeze in all the books that kept coming in for our inventory. Sometimes we would only be able to put up about 5 books and the rest, you guessed it up the ladder.
Struggling with our identity and the Church
Needless to say our whole concept of people and Church had changed. When one experiences this very low point in their lives, one tends to back away and change patterns. In looking back I see many who could have come forward to keep The Messenger Book Shop afloat. I had an uncle who was a priest in the Diocese, many aunts and uncles who were very involved in the Church. They all knew that we were struggling but when push comes to shove, many do not want to let go of their assets. Not many like Dick and I are willing to put all their chips on the table. So like the saying goes: “Let the chips fall where they may.” In this instance on the ground floor, on the ground floor of our lives, Dick, Lisa and I in our condo, starting all over again.
I remember Lisa saying to us: “What are you guys going to do, all I know is that you have been doing the book shop since I was almost 3 years old.” Good question Lisa, one that I had asked myself many times in those last few years.
Lisa was now a Senior at Goffstown High School, doing very well and a member of the National Honor Society. She also worked part time at Stuart’s department store and when it closed Dunkins. She was planning to go to Plymouth State College and major in Social Studies. She was now dating Matt Leonard, who also was going to Plymouth State.
Dick now worked for Hannaford Bros. in Raymond, NH a brand new store. He worked hard and they pushed him quite a bit and this gave him a lot of stress, enough that he lost almost 20lbs without even trying. And, on top of that he had to let go of his beard. I remember when he came home after he went to the barbers and I just started to laugh, I had a brand new husband.
Lisa graduated with honors and received a few scholarships, enough that her first year she did not incur any debt. We are very proud parents. She is majoring in Social Work and her minor is psychology, a good fit.
In June of 1990, my heal spur on my right food was so bad that after many cortisone shots, I made the decision to have it removed. I took about 6 weeks off from work and later changed my hours from 40 hours a week to 25 hours a week. I was still on board for the benefits. I went back to work but it was still painful, standing up all day, it took a long time for the healing but the heal spur never came back. All those expensive orthodics I could throw away but not too fast because the left foot also developed a heal spur. So back to cortisone shots.
I also was going to the YWCA for water aerobics at this time, which helped my overall life style.
Going back to the Church, well that’s the truth of it all, we didn’t go back to the Church. We needed healing, lots of healing.
Of course, I kept on reading all my books and that helped a little. I never abandoned prayer and our family became closer, as well as our extended family. It was time to refresh the relationships and be with those who understood where we were coming from.
We were still in the public eye but we were no longer “in the center” a little humble pie but we became better at understanding others who were going through the same struggles, like Ray & Bill.
Around this time Ray was suing Andrew Lloyd Weber for using Ray’s song “Till You” in the theme from “Phantom of the Opera”. Not an easy case to win but Dick and I wished Ray good luck. I guess one would do anything to keep his/her dream alive and this was a risk Ray was willing to take.
Once Lisa made her Confirmation at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Dick, Lisa and I pretty much didn’t go to Church, like I said before we needed lots of healing and sometimes one has to become distant, detached from the feelings of doubt, non-trust, fear of risking and getting hurt. Selfish motives but justified. Anyway, that’s what we believed and that’s what we had to do, we just couldn’t afford to come down another peg and get slaughtered one more time.
Donna was now living with Celia Heavysides and Anne Marie Lacasse on the second floor on Dubuque Street. Dave DesRuisseaux and Dave Laflamme lived in the same building on the 3rd floor.
Donna and Dave started dating and within 3 months times, they were engaged. A date was set for June 1, 1991.
Dave was a quiet sort of fellow, serious but gentle of heart, we were happy for Donna and her future looked good. They both were the oldest of 3 in their family and so marched on with their plans.
Lisa’s high school graduation went well, except for one little glitch, Mike and Joanne would not be staying after the ceremony for our family party. They were very involved with Amway and Mike was giving a talk that weekend. Needless to say, Dick and I weren’t very pleased but Lisa just shrugged it off and accepted their $100 gift with an explanation in the card, Lisa wouldn‘t let me read the card.
In November, the girls and I gave Dick a surprise 50th birthday party. It would be at Donna’s apartment, which was a pretty big apartment and could accommodate the family, our extended family and friends. Before the big party “Over the Hill”, I took Dick out to eat at the “Renaissance” restaurant on Elm Street and we were going to play cards at Donna’s place. It was a great way to actually really keep the surprise intact and the girls had plenty of time to get the party together. All guests were there when we arrived. This is one time that I actually saw Dave laugh, he really laughed at Dick’s jokes. I can still see the scene in the kitchen. Dave sitting on the gas heater, Vivian standing and laughing with Dick doing his “thing”. It was a great party.
Mom was now enjoying her life on Dubuque street with Judy’s family. Mom and Judy went out together and I felt better about the whole situation. I knew it would work out but Mom and to live through the doubts and fears. Mom didn’t like change, no one likes forced change. When it isn’t really your own choice you have to accept it and it takes longer to process all the feelings.
Dick and I started our Shaklee business up again, one more time, we went to meetings at the Jean’s but it was slow moving and lots of stuff to re-learn but we moved on, not with the same enthusiasm as in 1983 but we managed, it gave us a little hope for our future.
We struggled with our bills, worked hard and did the best we could to maintain some kind of life together. It was rough, starting all over again but we were in our late 40’s, it wasn’t the end of our world.
Donna is now living at home until the wedding on June 1st. Lisa is well into her Freshman year at Plymouth State College.
Joanne, Lisa, Dick and I are planning Donna’s bridal shower for March. Lisa was able to get the Masonic Temple hall on Mountain Road for $50. Joanne took care of the rest. Dick and I were literally broke at this time, no credit whatsoever. I had to use my Mom’s credit card at Macy’s for Donna’s gift. Stainless steel dinnerware, country blue table cloth, napkins & rings. I paid Mom back, little by little. Can’t remember what we gave Donna & Dave for a wedding gift.
I don’t remember how this came about but somehow Dick, Donna and I asked Ray Repp to come to NH to sing at Donna & Dave’s wedding. We also asked Vivian (Lesmerises) Vago, to play the organ for the entrance & procession songs. And somehow persuaded both Ray and Vivian to do a duet to: “Follow Me”. I knew that Ray was not fond of doing duets but he didn’t say anything when we asked for that special song, after all it was a wedding and a man and woman singing together was very meaningful. The DVD of the wedding ceremony says it all.
On Friday, May 31st I picked up Ray at the airport. Dick is working in Raymond and I have a few days off from the bookstore at the NH Mall, B. Dalton’s. Somehow, we end up at the Mall for lunch. I took him to “Memory Lane”. I remember Ray saying to me: “McDonald’s would have been fine”. After lunch, we went to Vivian’s home on Arlington street, so that they could meet and rehearse. I can’t remember if Ray and Vivian had ever been introduced before at concerts etc. I can’t imagine that Vivian had not met him before and I know that she loved Ray’s music. I had gifts for both of them and gave Vivian a nice pair of clipped white earrings and Ray a tie, I think it was pink & blue. He said that he had brought a tie but the morning of the wedding, he came downstairs wearing the tie that I gave him. That was very polite of him, a gentleman.
Friday evening we order Chinese take out and everyone relaxed and got re-acquainted.
The wedding day is upon us and we are to be at St. Jean the Baptist church by 10:00 a.m. Earlier in the morning the florist delivers a dozen white stem roses in a vase for Donna from Dave. They were just gorgeous and a beautiful touch for a picture taken by Roger Grondin. Donna and Joanne both worked for Roger.
Cecile Gill comes to the condo to pick up Ray and Brian Vaillancourt is taking video and also leaves for church. Others who are recording for video are Steve Dakoulas and Ray Labrie.
Joanne was Matron of Honor, Lisa bridesmaid as well as Dave’s sister Teresa. Mike was an usher as well as Steve, Dave’s brother.
I remember entering the vestibule at (9:58 a.m.) I thought I heard Ray singing “Share a Little Bit of Your Love”. I really don’t remember how all the songs got selected but in finding the wedding booklet just recently, (2014) I found the Communion song titled: “We’re Going to Live Forever”. I didn’t remember the song at all and in checking out on the WWW, I couldn’t find it. I e-mailed Ray, and he told me that he never published the song. A few weeks ago I find a cassette tape that Ray sent our way with two songs: “We’re Going to Live Forever” and “One World Broken”. I listened to one of the video’s from the wedding but since it was the Communion song and some shuffling of feet etc. Ray is singing on the other side of where the video is being taken so I couldn’t get the full focus of the song. I received a CD/Cassette player for Christmas 2014. I played both songs. The first is Ray on guitar singing, probably recorded it at home, the other has the sound of a recording studio with harmonizers etc.
It was a beautiful day weatherized, since the night before it had rained a little and we were having the after wedding get together and needed the outside, our condo was very limited for space.
Somehow the seating arrangements at The Chateau were set up in this fashion: The head table, the brides’ parents round table in the center, the groom’s parents on our right facing the head table and if I can remember on my left, were the Richers’ & some Lesmerises’.
So at our table, to my left is Dick, going full circle, Mom, Inga, Judy, Susie, Vivian, Ray & I. A table of 8. Needless to say, more ladies than gentlemen.
The meal, roast beef, corn & mashed potatoes, followed by wedding cake. I hope Dick kept the drinks coming for Ray & Vivian. Donna & Dave paid for most of the wedding. Dick and I were more than broke at this time, we had lots of debt.
I don’t remember much of the conversation at the table, nothing serious was discussed. I did however hear Vivian and Ray talking to one another and Vivian was telling Ray about a certain book that she liked, I think it was “Silent Music” by William Johnston. Ray ended the conversation by saying that if he wanted any ideas about books that he would ask Jackie. That was a nice remark, nice enough for me to remember it 24 years later.
I didn't dance much that day, my heal spur was acting up, I remember going home in my flats with Dick & Ray in the gray mini-van.
June 1, 1991
We had an after wedding party at the condo. Great that it was a beautiful day weather wise, so we could have the overflow of people outside. We had limited space but all had enough places to sit and hopefully enough food, beer etc.
We had all the wedding gifts at the house and Donna and Dave came over after they went to Fran and Roger’s to pick up their luggage and see Dave’s family once again. I believe they had hired a catering service to do hamburgers etc. Fran and Roger paid for the 2 white limos.
Donna & Dave arrived in Donna’s Hyundai, they stayed long enough to open their wedding gifts and took off with the vase of beautiful white roses in their hands. It was a lovely sight, they were so happy!
This was a long day and I always told my daughters that night weddings are so much easier but both Donna and Joanne preferred morning weddings, this way the wedding couple would have all day together. I guess I was being too practical, like no after parties etc. Also, personally I think it is so much easier and more fun to go out in the evening, dine, dance etc. It just seems to fit together. Well, we have one more daughter, Lisa to go.
Don & Jackie invited us to North Carolina with Mom to spend some time vacationing with their family at Emerald Island in July. Don & Jackie would be paying for the cottage. We said yes and started planning our trip, I guess we must have both had enough vacation time.
The after wedding party was non-ending, towards the end of it, I believe it was 2 a.m., the cousins, Pam, Dawn, Lisa were on the living room floor talking to Ray and I was in the background next to the entertainment unit. Ray was talking about his law suit with Andrew Llyod Webber and mentions that the suit was for about $15 million dollars. I couldn’t help myself and said: “ A bit greedy Ray, don’t you think?”
A little while later, exhausted I excused myself and went to bed, especially when Ray declared that his plane was taking off at 4:30 a.m. I didn’t know this at the time. I should have just stayed up and made it an all nighter but I guess I wasn’t thinking straight at the time.
Dick and I to went to the Manchester airport with Ray, park the car and say our thank you’s and goodbyes at the entrance of the airport. In 2014 I sent Ray an e-mail thanking him once again for being with us on that special day.
The year starts off and I tell Dick, I can’t believe that I worked another Christmas season at the mall. Dick knows that I hated this job, the pay, the hours, the heal spur and everything about the whole “scenario”. He tells me to quit and find another job.
I was brought up that you don’t quit a job until you find another job but I was getting antsy and somehow I was able to quit at the beginning of February. Vacation pay etc, I took a 2 month sabbatical. It felt wonderful. I did do a little work for “Office Specialist” and finally landed at NH Mortgage Co, in Hooksett. Eventually being hired full time in the tax department in charge of liens.
Lisa was in her 2nd year at Plymouth, Dick and I got into our routine and somehow managed to stay out of bankruptcy and started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The condo wasn’t a cheap place to live, our mortgage payment was $700 a month + $80 a month for condo fees and electric heat.
I put in a lot of overtime.
Dick got a phone call from Al Lanctot about a meat cutter job opening in Weare, NH. Dick quit his very stressful job at Hannaford’s in Raymond and started to work at Lanctot’s. Again, a smaller store always means more hours but the pace is easier. Dick was the only meat cutter in the store. So he was pretty much his own boss.
He had no medical insurance but I had Healthsource, a great insurance company, which is a good thing with Dick’s heart disease but we are not thinking about this, since Dick has been feeling pretty good since his by-pass surgery in 1982. That’s 10 years ago but we both were not dwelling on the timetable, one has to take one day at a time and we had plenty to keep ourselves occupied without looking for trouble.
For the past 10 years Dick had been doing his best with cardiac rehab. Not easy to get up early, go to the gym and go to work. I didn’t keep track of it too much, after all Dick was in his 50’s and old enough to take care of himself, which he did. But Dick loved to eat and he was a bit of a “food pusher”. Hard to resist because he always came up with great dishes. I guess he thought he was over and done with all this heart stuff, that it was all fixed up.
Lisa is now in her 3rd year of college in Plymouth and Dick and I are slowly coming back to reality. We are entering the years of “the empty nest syndrome”. It is good for us to be alone and re-evaluate our life together.
Sometimes in the Spring-Summer, Dick started to have some angina. I would notice it when we went for short walks to Donna and Dave’s house on Pershing Street. Dick had to take more breaks.
Like I mentioned before, through the years Dick was going to CMC for cardiac re-hab. On and off, I didn’t keep close watch but Dick did the best he can. Dick loved to cook and he was a “food pusher”. Hard to resist, he was good at it and I’m glad that when we bought the book shop, I let him take over in the kitchen. But “beware”, once you let a man into the kitchen, you can’t even peel a cucumber the right way. I am not joking, this really happened, ask Donna.
In August we had a family reunion at Donna and Dave’s and Sue, Steve & Heather were in town also Christina and Nicole, we celebrated Christina’s birthday, so it was around August 15th. They were all living at Mom’s. Must have been pretty hectic. Also, around this time, Connie, Tom, Misty & Nicole moved back to NH from Seattle.
It was not too long after that when I took Dick to the emergency room with uncontrollable angina and it was decided that they would do another by-pass surgery. The odds were good, Dick was almost 53 and besides his angina he was in pretty good condition.
Dr. Westbrook was the surgeon and he re-did the 3 by-passes from 1982 and 2 other by-passes. Dick was as good as new. So we thought. About 36 hours after the operation Dick was now in his own room and I noticed that he didn’t look too good and he was really out of it. I immediately called in his nurse and she took his vitals and “stat” he was on his way back into the O.R. I remember the anesthesiologist telling me that they had a hard time putting the tube into his throat the first time and as I looked at them rushing Dick to the O.R., in the hall coming out of his room, they were starting to incubate him. I thought that it must have been very painful for Dick but I guess they didn’t want to lose precious time.
It was late in the evening when all this was taking place and Donna, Joanne, Lisa, Dave and Mike were with me.
Dr. Westbrook came back to tell us that Dick was okay and that there was hemorrhaging taking place, that he corrected the problem and at the same time checked out his work, and said that he had done a great job.
It seems that when the physician assistant took out the draining tubes in Dick’s lower chest, he did it too quickly. All was well and we didn’t ask any more questions at this time.
When Dick went to his 6 week check-up, Armand his brother took him, Dr. Whittemore was seeing him. Dick asked him what happened after the surgery and the doctor answers with this question: “Why, are you going to sue us? This had not really entered both of our minds but when Dick came home I said to him: “Well, if you had died maybe I would have sued.” We left it at that but Dick never liked Dr. Whittemore after that incident.
Well, thank God I had that good medical insurance because we never saw a bill from the doctors or hospital.
When Dick was in the hospital, the 1986 Mini-Van was giving me problems but I never talked about it to Dick. It broke down and we need a new transmission. “When it rains it pours”.
While Dick was recovering Al Lanctot called to see when Dick would be coming back to work. I told him about 8 weeks after the operation. Well, by the time Dick got in touch with Al, his meat cutter position was gone. I was a bit taken aback. We had just begun to see a little light beyond the tunnel and here Dick is just after surgery searching for another job but to no avail.
This is the second time in our married life that Dick is collecting unemployment. But by early Spring, he takes a part-time job with an agency that is doing the “poll census” for the City of Manchester. This gets Dick into doing great exercise and also meeting people. He really liked it and would often point out to me the different places that he visited, along with stories. It didn’t pay much about the same as unemployment compensation but it was so much better than just staying at home. Lisa also Dick some poll work at the same time as Dick, so they went out together but in different directions.
After awhile, Dick got 2 part-time meat cutters job. Bi-Wise in Allenstown and Sully’s in Manchester. So the money was coming in again, he had no perks but that was okay because I did, plus I worked allot of overtime at the mortgage company.
Lisa graduated from Plymouth State College (cum-laud) Lisa, never told us, so we were pleasantly surprised, it was a nice hot sunny day. Mom, Gerry and Judy joined us for that Saturday. Dick and I bought a congratulations cake for her sorority.
We had a family party at Donna and Dave’s that Sunday. A couple of negatives for the day was that Connie and her family didn’t show up and Diane Rene lost $50 that was in her wallet. Lisa was going out with Dave and he and some of their friends brought some food for the party.
After college, Lisa was in a few bridal parties, I don’t know how she even was able to pay for all of it.
Donna and Dave gave Lisa their old Hyundai for a graduation gift and Dick and I gave her 6 months of free room and board.
Lisa got a job at the Moore Center almost immediately after graduation. It didn’t pay much but she didn’t have too many bills. Her student loans, car maintenance and all those weddings she attended.
At work the mortgage company was slowly losing business. Every quarter they would let people go. By the end of the year, I couldn’t believe I was still there, since I was hired from my temp job. But many of us who were still there had been temps before.
I remember at one time, actually packing all my personal stuff, figuring, that I could be next but I never got let go. But I saw the writing on the wall.
Donna worked at the Diocese at that time, since 1989. There was an opening in the Youth Ministry Office for a secretary.
I went for the interview. I was interviewed by Msgr. Charles Crosby, Sister Bernadette Turgeon and Diane Allen. Somehow, I wasn’t overwhelmed with it all, I had a good feeling about being hired, since I knew Sister Bernadette and Fr. Crosby through the Messenger Book Shop. Diane Allen was the director of R.C.I.A. I was hired by all three. I would be principally the secretary for Sister Bernadette and subsequently for Diane Allen. I started at $8 an hour for a 35 hour week. 9-5. I would start on January 25, 1995.
I gave my months notice at the mortgage company. In retrospect, I took a chance that they would keep me through the month of January, after all they were practically shutting down their operation. I managed to stay until the end but walked out without any vacation pay or anything. My boss told us that she didn’t want everybody taking their earned sick days all in December. So, even though I knew I was leaving, I also left behind my sick days. The year before I had used up all my sick days to be with Dick and I found myself fortunate at that time to be able to take that time off.
It's my turn...
In late January I started my job in the youth ministry office. I have a different computer than my other job it is a Wang. Since the other secretary was no longer there I had to pretty much train myself. Another secretary from a different department, Irene Riley came to my rescue and gave me her printed Wang book. I'm a pretty fast learner, so I tried not to get too shook up about it. Sister Bernadette though could get me pretty shook up. Since she didn't come into the office everyday, she had allot of responsibilities at Emmaus Retreat House, she came into the office like a bull in a china shop. You pretty much had to put all your work aside because she became the priority with no questions asked. Matt Goody was a co-director and he also came in a few times. Matt rarely asked me for anything. Actually, when I got a brand new computer (Dell) when I got stuck, I would ask him for help, he was a wizard.
"Transcending the Physical"
In 2011 I was bedridden. In 2008 I was wrongly diagnosed by my primary doctor, rheumatologist, several pain management clinics. Needless to say I was in severe pain and depression. I was on every pain medication that my doctors could possibly prescribe and also on marijuana. Although not legal in NH my doctor told me if I can get some to take it. I spent most of my days in bed bed, no TV, no reading (I am an avid reader) just meditating, sleeping and barely eating. I lost about 25 lbs that summer. Which was a very good thing because in December I finally had the double hip surgery that a team of doctors finally put their heads together and figured out.
As I lay in bed that summer, I let myself move into a transcendence state. I let go of all of my inner anxiety and problems on the outside and let my husband take care of the details. I had to because I had nothing physical left to give. I let my physical, emotionally pain ridden body move onto another dimension. This saved me from total alienation, from darkness and depression.
During this time, I was on the edge, the edge of passing through to another dimension, I knew that I could let go and pass through, I heard music that was very compelling, very peaceful and yet some of the music was quite entertaining. Big Band Music and also the Ave Maria. Brought me way back to the 1950's. My parents introduced me to Big Band music, we were lucky to have a record player in our home. The "Ave Maria" from my childhood devotion to Mary.
The 1950's were very good days for me and my family and during my bedridden days was the best medicine.
Labor Day Weekend
August 30, 2014
Yesterday, Friday I received news from Lisa through Pauline St Hilaire that Claire St Hilaire-Miville has only a few days to live. It seems that the ovarian cancer has spread throughout her body and there is no way to combat the invading poison.
Claire the youngest of 6 children to Raoul (Ralph) and Yvonne (Provencher) St Hilaire. Claire is 56 years of age, born on Memorial Day May 30th, 1958. I visited Claire the newborn after just a few months of going out with Dick. I was very taken back with the home life of this very bounded family, who were at this time living in the Rimmon Projects. I realized how fortunate I was, the oldest of 7 at the time, with a nice comfortable home, nice clothes, a car and many activities to partake in with family, friends and now a brand new boy friend, who would be graduating from high school in June. Life looked promising, more promising to me than this family stuck in cramped quarters. Being the typical teenager, I shrugged it off and looked at the situation has not my fault and not my problem.
Claire was diagnosed just a about a week ago with stage 3 ovarian cancer, so needless to say we are all shocked to hear the news that she only has a very limited time left with her family. Diana is coming in from California.
I called Lisa this morning to see if there is a possibility of my going up to Dartmouth with her and to call Pauline and see if this would be good for the family. Since I am one of two remaining aunts and also a Hospice volunteer, I believe I would be a benefit to the family for me to be with them through these difficult days.
In 1978, the family lost Dick’s older sister Irene to cancer on Labor Day weekend. In 1987 Dick’s cousin Claire McNeil-Courchesne, died of ovarian cancer, just a few days after she had been hospitalized, there was nothing they could do, her tumor was the size of a cantaloupe and the cancer had spread throughout her body. She was about the same age as Claire. Claire Courchesne was Claire’s godmother.
Rachel left for college today and I sent her off with kisses, hugs and I love you’s. Somehow, Dave managed to get everything into the van and all 5 of the DesRuisseaux’s are going to Rindge, NH at Franklin Pierce University, to help Rachel get settled in. I asked Eric to take more videos. He was not too thrilled about the prospect but Donna took charge and told me she would. Typical of Donna, always trying to make everybody happy. I always tell her that charity begins at home and that she needs to take better care of herself,
I’m sure these past few days with the news of Claire that maybe Donna might slow down a bit. Now that Rachel is off to college, maybe the whole family will settle down into a nice routine.
I e-mailed Paul & Lou and received a call from Paul in Arizona. We had a nice conversation and he told me that he is very involved in his parish and also doing prison ministry. He seemed very happy with his life and all the work that goes into taking care of their 2 grandchildren, Miriam age 2 and Mason age 5. It reminded me of Dick and I and our busy days together.
August 31, 2014
My first e-mail this morning was from Paul and he informed me that Claire had passed away on Saturday evening. I was a bit surprised that Lisa didn’t relay the message to me but realized that Paul had been in contact with Pauline and Pauline called Paul in the middle of the night.
Lisa did get a text at the same time but didn’t want to wake me up.
It’s a very sad day for the family and Dennis and Jocelyn have a long way to go. I don’t envy anyone who has to go through the death of their spouse. Jocelyn is just starting her Senior year and this is going to be tough, she was very close to her Mom.
Lisa posted a nice album on Face book “Remembering Claire”. Donna and I added others. This is a nice way to show the family that they have support from the outside.
This Sunday I went to Church with Donna, Dave, Ryan & Eric. Donna did not go up to sing. She is taking this hard. We all are, it’s very sad. Fr. John approached Donna and told her to tell Dennis that the parish would be happy to accommodate with any of his needs. All in all I was glad that I went to Church this morning. I also met a classmate from St. Jean’s after church, Claire Blanchette. She comes to this parish every now and then but belongs to Ste. Marie’s. She is very friendly and compassionate, knew that Dick had passed away and offered her condolences.
This is a long weekend and it’s hard to concentrate on something else when you know that others are suffering and dealing with their grief. It also brings back memories of Irene who lost her battle with cancer on Labor Day Weekend in 1978 at the age of 56. Same age as Claire.
I spoke to Donna & Lou Guertin today and somehow when a tragedy happens, it seems that people come back to the fold. Lou is now retired and Donna works with the elderly. Lou is 71+Donna just turned 65.
September 1, 2014
This morning around 3 a.m. I had a dream about Dick. He was at peace and happy. I asked him if the other side was pretty much what we had talked about, like a place with no suffering, beauty and love. He said yes. Somehow Pinocchio came into the picture. This was Dick’s favorite animated movie.
September 4, 2014
Today Claire St Hilaire Miville was laid to rest at Mount Cavalry Cemetery in a beautiful area with her father-in-law, whom Claire had never met. There were many gathered around her casket as each close family member placed a red rose on top of her casket, always a touching moment.
Lisa, Dennis, Joanne, Donna, Dave & Ryan were standing with me under a shady tree. It was a hot day. Dave was one of the pallbearers along with Rick St Hilaire.
Fr. John Fleming read the last readings and those gathered prayed the “Our Father”.
Earlier that morning I picked up Lou Guertin and together we entered the church at the “Parish of the Transfiguration”. We sat in the pew behind Yvonne, Denise, Mark & Claire. Behind us Diane, Kelsea, Gail & Deb. Lisa, Dennis & Ryan entered our pew minutes before the ceremony. Joanne sat in the back alone, having arrived just in time for the funeral.
Donna along with Susan Lawrence, were the only 2 musicians, Fr. John had asked Donna on Sunday if she would be willing to sing.
The attendance at church was modest but a good mix of relatives, friends and parishioners. Communion time Fr. John invited those who are Catholic to come and receive and to those who wish to come up for a blessing, to cross their arms in front of their breast. It was not the worst, it was not the best. Again, re-enforcing our family’s decision, at the request of Dick before he passed not to have a full Eucharistic mass.
After the burial Dennis Miville came to us and explained that he had forgotten to confirm the mercy meal. He felt bad, we felt bad. He left with Jocelyn and his mother Lorraine.
Diane Rene says to me: “This wouldn’t have happened if Claire was in charge”. We all laughed and agreed. After all Claire was the party organizer. Just give her a date and there she went, full speed ahead.
About 35 of us, mostly family met at the Backroom for lunch. Somehow, we were designated a private room in the back of the restaurant which had 6 tables. It was the perfect setting since we had not made reservations beforehand. Each family chose a table and this made it easier for us to get the bills separated. Lou sat at Diane & Gail’s table.
Our table was the last to get waited on, so we were the last to leave. Lou said that he needed to get home for the dog. So we get into Lisa’s car, this is the 3rd car that Lou has been transferred in today, we laugh and joke all the way to his home on Brunelle Street, in front of the spruce tree that Lou told me was a pine tree, which I by-passed earlier that morning. So Lou and I will always have a “tree” story.
I had had a glass of wine along with my chicken pot pie, when I got home I took a shower and a 2 hour nap. Swearing never to have wine again at lunchtime.
Paul Guertin called me in the evening and I was pleased to catch him up on the day and told Paul that I had questions, from Lisa about Irene’s cancer. Paul gave me a very good run down on how Irene first became sick, how she started radiation treatment, had the operation, chemo and finally after about one year succumbed to “uterine cancer” on September 2, 1978.
N.B. from Jackie: I remember that Irene had told me that her last period was the weekend we were married on August 12, 1961 and she had excessive bleeding. She was only 39 years old and in menopause.
Paul re-counts to me the last few years of Irene’s life.
Irene’s struggles with her health began in 1975 with bleeding from the uterus. Paul was 21 years old and getting married in October1975. Dr. Perron on Coolidge avenue was the family doctor.
By the summer of 1977, the year after Christine was born, Irene was not feeling good and the bleeding had come back. The doctors performed a D&C, pretty common for this kind of health issue.
In September 1977, Irene went to a gynecologist Dr. Kickham and he performed a biopsy and the uterine cancer was discovered. She started radiation therapy. Surgery for a hysterectomy was scheduled for December 27, 1977.
N.B. from Jackie: That summer Irene asked Dick and I to have a family barbecue-pool get together on Higgins Street. Of course we were glad to say yes to her request, after all Irene never asked for much, she always gave more than she received. God bless her.
During this time Dick and our family were so engrossed with our new business but we managed to slow down some in the summer.
That Fall, Irene came into the Messenger Book Shop on Joliette Street. She had on an aqua dress, I believe she had just returned from seeing her doctor. She explains to me that she is going for a biopsy because the doctors are suspecting cancer. I remember telling her that my Mom had cervical cancer and after went through hysterectomy and the cancer never returned. My Mom was 48 years old at the time in 1968. Dr. Perry part of the same group of doctors that Irene had chosen. Dr. Kickham.
On December 27th, we got a phone call from Paul at the book shop. Paul wants to speak with Dick. It is not good news, the doctors went to do the hysterectomy and found Irene full of cancer. The surgery was not completed.
Back to Paul’s explanation:
On Saturday morning December 31st while making his rounds at the hospital, Dr. Kickham met with Irene and the family and told her that the first priority was to get over the surgery, look for signs of infection, eat healthy etc. Although Irene did have a bout of high fever (same thing happened to me after my hysterectomy) and was quite sick for a couple of weeks, by the end of January she had recovered nicely. At this same meeting on New Year’s Eve, Dr. Kickham did tell Irene that the cancer had spread and that they had not proceeded with the hysterectomy.
By January-February 1978, Irene was feeling better. George retired in March and a little afterwards, as a result of improving health, the oncologist Dr. Smith thought that she was a good candidate for chemotherapy. There was even some slight optimism on the doctors’ part that if it worked, she could possibly even return to work.
In April-May, Irene entered the hospital for chemotherapy and it did not promote a very healthy situation. Irene was sick all summer and was hospitalized in August.
N.B. from Jackie: Diane Rene was getting married in May 1978 and we had a bridal shower at our home on Higgins Street, I have a picture of Irene wearing a wig and looking very sick. Also a picture after the wedding at Rollande’s home outside.
That summer our family was on a retreat in Enfield and Dick went to the hospital to see Irene because her health was failing and the doctors didn’t think she would live much longer.
On Friday evening September 1st, most of the family was at the Elliot Hospital. In addition to the immediate family (George, Lou & Paul), Paul remembers Dick being there along with uncle Roland and aunt Rollande. George had been there all day and left around 9 PM. Roland and Rollande left shortly thereafter. Late in the evening Irene’s condition worsened. Dick, Lou & Paul stayed the night and Irene passed away shortly after 3 AM on Saturday morning.
Paul and Lou are forever grateful that Dick was there with them when Irene passed. There was always a special bond between Irene and her “little brother”, Dick. Never was that more evident than on the last night of her life according to Paul. For that and countless other reasons, Dick will always have a special place in their hearts.
N.B. from Jackie: A few weeks before Irene passed away, Dick and I visited Irene in the hospital. Irene told us that she had had a spiritual experience and that she had experienced a loving embrace from Jesus, while looking out her window, which was to the left of her bed. At this time I personally was very aware of this type of experience, having had the same happen to me in May of 1974, a week after our Marriage Encounter weekend. I didn’t share this with Irene but gently nodded to her.
There are no words to explain how Dick and I felt about losing Irene but I had had a dream that summer and Irene told me in the dream that she was going to a more peaceful place that she had suffered enough both emotionally and physically and it was time to move on. I never shared the dream with Dick or anyone else.
Love to you Irene, Paul & Lou. Irene was an exceptional lady, full of love, faith and perseverance. I was fortunate to have known Irene for 20 years, she was an example for my getting to know Jesus. I never knew Dick and Irene’s mother Odelie but I can only imagine that Irene was a pretty close fit.
On September 2, 1978, Jesus welcomed her in His kingdom: “Well done good and faithful servant”. Now they are friends forever.
Love to you Irene, Dick, Paul & Lou.
June 3, 2015
The Path Within
By Anthony Santen
10 chapters read
Jackie St Hilaire
I have taken notes on
truths that I have experienced and truths that I have been working through for
many many years.
The author has worked out many of these truths in his own
life and has helped many people to find their own truth.
This is our soul purpose to find our inner truth, to accept
the truth of ourselves and to move ahead to our final resting place. But rest assured there is not much time for rest
in this earthly life, it is a short space of time compared to the infinite
reality and we are all participants.
We are privileged to be part of this wonderful creation,
even though at times it seems like we are not moving in the right direction(s). We oftentimes take one step forward and two
steps backwards and the important thing is not to give up when we are going
through inner struggles because there is a light that follows the
darkness. This is not some Utopian life
that we have been birthed through our parents, it’s a life of letting go of all unnecessary attachments. We are born
free but this freedom is not free, we have to work ourselves through it, to
rise above it like the Phoenix,
rise above the ashes.
Living in harmony with oneself brings inner peace and it
requires effort and we are so resistant to change. Like Dr. Phil McGraw often says: “Is this working for you?” I remember many years ago reading a book
called: “Sick and Tired of Being Sick
and Tired.” When is enough, enough? Why do we resist? Why do we wait for the next person to do it
instead of stepping up to the plate ourselves?
It’s a lifetime struggle to the finish line. Every day one has to pick up his/her mat and
walk, no one can do this for us. There is no knight in shining armor that is
going to come to our rescue, not even Jesus.
I know that may sound sacrilegious to some but this is where you come to
understand that it is “you” and “you” alone that eventually will take the
steps, the ball is in your court.
Of course, some of us will have much help, support and love
through our lifetime; our parents, children, grandchildren, husbands, wives, friends
and confidants but in reality it’s up to “you”.
After all, the people in our lives have to go through the same inner
struggles to find their own truth.
Yesterday, I visited an old friend, he has a rare disease, a
form of Parkinson’s and AL’S all rolled into his personhood. This man 77 years old is not dying physically
but he is dying mentally and spiritually.
He tells me that his wife is a saint to put up with him; he knows that
he is a burden. I tell him that he is a
saint for putting up with the disease for so many years. He talks about going into a nursing home and
I explain to him that I visit nursing homes as a volunteer for Hospice and
believe me you don’t want to put yourself or your family through this if you
can avoid it. His wife tells him that he
should be doing his physical therapy but he is not interested. She leaves for a lunch date with an old friend
who has MS. I tell her I will fix lunch
for her husband and stay with him awhile.
She says maybe you can get him to do his exercises? Her husband says maybe after lunch? I say we should do it know because after
lunch your stomach might be too full, he agrees and somehow gets himself on the
floor and starts the exercises. I am
following on papers that the therapist has given him to do at home. I tell him that I noticed allot of coffee
stains on the paper, he laughs, the papers have been in his walker, where he
places his coffee cup. I laugh and say;
“Pretty soon you wont’ be able to read the notes”. It’s all in good jest because this guy loves
to tell jokes, which he can hardly speak now and we as couples went dancing
almost every Saturday night when we were younger, he was a great dancer, now he
needs someone to assist him with a strap to go to the bathroom. It is all very sad.
He loves history and I asked him if he had watched the PBS
documentaries on the three Roosevelt’s? He says yes, he watched all of them when they
came out in 2014. Great I thought to
myself and proceeded to talk about FDR’s polio and how he had gone to a Spa
where he did allot of swimming and how much that helped his mental, spiritual
and physical condition. I asked if he
remembered the old films that they shared, he said yes. I continued to re-iterate about how his upper
body became very muscular because of the exercises from swimming and that even
though he had hardly any strength in his legs, he was happy to have found
something that was helping him. So much
so that he spent 2/3 of his inheritance to buy the Spa and bring other polio
victims there for support, encouragement and healing. Inner healing, I repeated. It was FDR’s fondest and happiest time
battling the disease; he became more human, more humble and more in touch with
reality and the human condition. It
helped him gain the presidency.
I told my friend that I go to the YMCA 3 times a week for
water aerobics and there are 2 pools.
One pool is 92 degrees, has a chair lift and if he wished I could bring
him there any of the mornings that I went.
I remind my friend that when I had hip problems, my husband (Dick) one
of his best friends, would wheel me to the pool and help me in the chair and as
the chair was lowered I felt such immense relaxation and was almost pain free
for 45 minutes. It was allot of work for
both of us but at least I was trying to do something about my situation. I was misdiagnosed for 4 years but finally
had had enough and found out through a long series of tests that I needed
double hip surgery. I had the operation
done in December 2011, 9 months later my husband died, after his 3
by pass operation. His first by- pass
was in 1982, he was only 41.
So I left our friend with a decision to make, will he choose
to do the exercises, go to the pool or sit in his recliner all day? The choice is always ours.