Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Shirley (Amirault) Frost's Story "A Sister"

A few weeks ago I posted a story from Alphe Amirault's niece, Shirley (Amirault) Frost.  She is a great story teller.  This is a story about her young sister being born and how Shirley was made to feel so special when her dad went to pick up her mom and new baby sister from the hospital. After reading her story it just touched me to hear how family was so important, how all her siblings were made to feel special, the love in her family and how her father was the apple of her eye.  I'm sure you'll enjoy reading this heartwarming true story.  Thank you Shirley!

A Sister

By the time I was nearly six years old, I had an older sister named Janice, two little brothers, Alban and John, and a new baby sister, Elizabeth Anne, born on September 4, 1950.

She didn’t look anything at all like me.  She had lots of dark curly hair, well defined eyebrows, bark brown eyes and a rosebud mouth, a true Amiro family trait.

The best thing I can remember about her birth is that my mother went to the hospital and then, I thought, I was my father’s best girl for the simple reason that he had chosen me to drive to the hospital with him in his Ford truck to bring them home.

He, in his unassuming caring way had looked at the four of us: A tomboyish, raven haired, nine year old big sister who acted like she was boss, two rambunctious boys who tumbled around constantly chasing each other and me: pale skinned, blonde, very shy, missing my mother and really, really wanting to go, imploring him with my eyes to choose me.  I was ecstatic when he finally said:  “Shirley.” My name felt so safe in his mouth.  If only one of us could go, I was so happy to be the one.

Our maid, Antoinette, washed my face, braided my hair and helped me into my little hounds tooth coat and hat he had bought for me at Peter Nichols store in Yarmouth. It had shades of green, gray, pink and brown
wool; just right for making a little girl feel special. Wearing it to go to town with my father by myself to meet my sister was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me.

We brought the baby home.   While she was asleep she had the most exquisitely beautiful face, wrapped
in softness, everything about her was small, delicate, pink, perfect.  Her blanket smelled like my mother’s Evening in Paris perfume.

Left to Right: Mom Josephine, baby John, Janice, Shirley, Dad Albin holding Albin Jr.
Circa 1950 (before Elizabeth Ann was born) 
But oh, when she cried, she wailed, loud and hard.  Loud enough to stun our two brothers into a cautious silence.  Janice and I huddled together, afraid they would call Dr. LeBlanc and he might come and give us a needle for polio or something.  “What’d she say.” the older boy, Alban, three, asked. “What she crying for?” We didn’t know.  Elizabeth Anne wailed, pouted, was rocked, powdered and pampered, as we all had been.

“Donne y une tetine de sucre,” (give her a pacifier of sugar) the doctor ordered from the wooden phone on the back porch wall. It worked, the crying stopped. 

John, eighteen months old, looked forlornly at the new stranger who had taken over his favourite spot, his mother’s lap.  “Eyes,” he said, poking at her face with a stubby finger, standing on his tip toes to see her.

“Oh what a lovely baby she is”, our mother rejoiced as she soothed her, and we all gave a sigh of relief as she became quiet and beautiful again.

“I think I’ll call her my p’tite Lady”, Mom said, and that she did.  “P’tite Lady, p’tite lady, la p’tite lady a Mommy,” she sang on and on.

The melody echoed up the stairs, spilled into our rooms like sunshine where we lay trying to sleep despite the noise as she cried and Mom sang.  In time, she learned to smile and laugh; we all loved her then and called her Betty.

My birthday came; I was six and our father was forty.  He took me on his lap and played Happy Birthday for me on the piano.  He played the happy notes with his right hand making the keys tremble as his left hand tickled my waist.  I asked him if he would take me to town with him again when we got another sister.  He smiled and said sure he would. Then he put me down and played Ave Maria. I could see he was lost in his music, gone to God, I was sure.  That was when I realized what a great man he was.  He was the only one I knew who could take my hand, lead me in my new coat to a new sister and play the piano to God from our living room.

It was a good life. We read Orphan Annie, had a cat named “Gourm”( he was greedy ) had fields to pick wild daisies, a grandmother who lived across the road and gave us nickels and mints.

When it came time for John to go to school, he flatly refused to go without “Battay.”  No amount of coaxing could get him to go; the two had become inseparable.

Janice and I fought over who would get Betty for our bed partner.  Sometimes we slept three in a bed, singing “Now is the Hour” in three part harmony, with Dad giving us the right pitch from the bottom of the stair.

Other times we argued, he would pretend he was coming up the stairs, but we knew he was only stamping his foot on the bottom step.  “Don’t make this come to blows.” he ordered.

It never came to blows, unless there was a bad word, like fool, or stupid or bald-headed, (if we spoke about the priest). Then we felt the sting of the Fuller leather brush across our hands; it hung in the kitchen behind the stove.  Mom would threaten us with it, but mostly we got a cuff on the backside from her “switch,” her
dishcloth, when we were too much for her, who had grown up pampered as the youngest child in a family of eight daughters, or so we were told by her sisters.  The humiliation of her distress was enough to stop any battle.

“Ques’ce-que tu fais Madame Painquette?” could strike terror in a tender heart, at least for the moment until she smiled.

The years flew by, in summer we worked the fields to make hay and picked blueberries. In winter we trudged together through deep snow to the two room coal- heated school house.  We learned to sing and pray in English, French and Latin, read “Run, Tom, Run”, milked Molly our cow who gave birth to twins, (that’s why, Dad said, she needed milking twice a day), learned to weed gardens, ride horses, help our father in his store and post office, care for one another without tattling, wash floors and dishes for Mom.

We inherited Mom’s bark brown eyes, hips and sense of humour, Dad’s passion for music and his faith in God and people.

As girls we shared rooms, clothes, friends, measles, mumps , chores and in turn inherited the ten o’clock curfew at age 16.  The boys whittled wood for bows and arrows, lit gas fires in tin cans and burned off their eyelashes and brows, (how pitiful they looked).  We went fishing and built camps in the woods where we all slept on crude bunk beds on warm summer nights. 

“You’ll never get a husband, Hawk”, (Alban’s new name for Betty,) “your neck is too long”: he’d tease, knowing full well she was beautiful.

Ruddy, sun-tanned, bilingual, we were together yet each one our own separate individual, the same yet different.  Janice became a savvy business lady, Alban a robust lobster fisherman, John an honest insurance salesman, Betty a keen horsewoman with her own stables. 

When I graduated from high school, my father congratulated me on a job well done.

He’d played “Tea for Two” for me and my boyfriend when we got home from a date; when I married he proudly walked me up the aisle on his arm to meet my new husband.

When I became a mother myself, he held my babies on his lap and played Nola or The Grasshopper Song to amuse them and gave us chocolates and ice cream on Sunday afternoon drives in his sedan with Mom.

“Three daughters, two sons, a son-in-law and now grandchildren,” he’d boast about us.

He’d chuckled when I called Mom every day, inviting them to come to visit us in Cole Harbour.  He’d sent her on ahead, planning to join us in a day or so.

We didn’t know about the heart disease then.  He died at 64, two weeks before his birthday in 1976.

He had been a wonderful father to all of us; each one could tell their own story.  But, I still cherish with utmost fondness the memory of that wonderful day when I got to walk, hand in hand with him, dressed in my little woolen coat, down the hospital hall to meet my new sister, Elizabeth Anne, and bring her and Mommy

“Nus”, “Bin”, “Non” and “Toinette” were waiting.

The next time Daddy took a trip to town, he picked Alban, then John, and when she was old enough, Betty, then Janice, and then me again.  A circle, a fair one.

I hadn’t figured that out then but it doesn’t matter.  Not at all.

Shirley Frost
November 28 ,2009

Monday, April 25, 2016

Farrenkopf - Maybe I Didn't Want to Know what it Means in German!

Amy Johnson Crow has a 31 day series of genealogy tips and on day 13 she gave us homework to search on WorldCat for family information. So I randomly searched out "Farrenkopf family" as this was my great grandmother's maiden name. I actually found the meaning of "Farrenkopf", "German: nickname for a reckless or clumsy man, from Middle High German, Middle Low German var(r)e ‘steer’, ‘bullock’ + kopf". Wow.

Summary from www.worldcat.org

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Felix Boudreau's Last Will and Testament

These days we are all urged to keep a last will and testament.  This is nothing new though as you can see by the fact that my 3rd Great Grandfather, Felix Boudreau (b. 1804/d. 1883), wrote his while on his death bed.  This document is full of helpful information.  I learned from this document that he had land to give away, he must have been educated enough that he knew to write a will and he had at least 5 sons. By the opening of his will he indicates he was a God fearing man, a Catholic and his wishes for burial.  Here is the interesting text of his will:

In the name of God, I, Felix Boudreau of Tusket Wedge, Parish of St. Michel, Municipality of Argyle, County of Yarmouth, and Province of Nova Scotia, being through the abundant mercy, Goodnes of God, Though weak in body, yet of a sound and perfect understanding and memory do constitute this my last will and testament - and desire it to be received by all as such. In blank I most humbly with bequeath my soul to God my maker, the beseeching his most gracious acceptance of it through the all sufficient merits and mediation of my most compassionate Redeemer Jesus Christ, who gave himself to be an atonement for my sins, and who is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God. I give my body to the earth from where it was taken in full assurance of its resurrection thence at the last day Amen. I want my body decently and christianly buried with all the ceremonies of our Holy Mother the Roman Catholic Church.

(1) as to my worldly estate I give and bequeath to my beloved son Charles O. Boudreau all the property now in my possession adjacent lands of Charles M. Boudreau and Arnant Surette situated on the eastern side of Tusket Wedge Point so called.

(2) I give and bequeath to my son John M. Boudreau that part of the homestead lot situated on the eastern side of Main Road (running north and south through Tusket Wedge) as far easterly as the first fence, together with all the buildings and appurtenances there unto belonging. Also the third part of estate mentioned in clause three hereof.

(3) The balance of my estate I wish to be equally divided amongst my three sons, John M. Boudreau, Leande Boudreau and Felix A. Boudreau on condition of giving a hand of maintenance to my wife Genevieve for the balance of her natural life. Should they the said John M. Boudreau, Leande Boudreau and Felix A. Boudreau fail to comply with the condition herein expressed then said balance of my estate I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Genevieve for her own use and behoof forever. I nominate and appoint Remi Doucette and John M. Surrette to be executors of this my last will and testament.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand on this 11th day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty three.

The above testament having
been read and explained                                        his
to said Felix Boudreau                                  Felix X Boudreau
his signature there unto was                                mark
witnessed by
     Daniel T. Reid
     Jabin Boudreau

I certify the above and before written paper writing to be an exact and literal copy of the original will of Felix Boudreau of Tusket Wedge in the County of Yarmouth whose name is placed thereto as the maker thereof, and I further certify that the said Will was duly admitted to Probate filed and registered in the said Court of Probate in common form at Yarmouth aforesaid on the day of the date hereof. Given at Yarmouth aforesaid this 12th day of March 1888.  

I'm sure one of my aunts or cousins shared this with me a while back (apologies that I can't remember who) and I would like to thank you!

Page 1 of Felix's Will

Page 2 0f Felix's Will

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lost at Sea

One thing nice about immersing oneself in genealogy research is that you meet distant cousins who start to feel like you really know them.  I've had this lovely pleasure by meeting my cousin Shirley (Amirault) Frost who is my 2nd cousin x1 removed.  She has been very generous in sharing stories that she has given me permission to share with you.  Her Uncle Alphe (Amirault), who I'm told had an encyclopedic memory, when he was 93 years old told her this story about his brother and two friends.  Luckily Shirley had the foresight to write this down.  Let me thank Shirley and here is Alphe's story:  

Notes written by Shirley (Amirault) Frost (written about 2007)
As told by Alphe Amirault, aged 93
Retired L’Aurore Credit Union Manager and Co-op Fish Plant

Lost at Sea
“I’ve watched the sun go down. On the very last it travels faster. Sometimes, according to where you are, it’s a dazzling thing, then it hides behind the earth, like a hill on the other side.  One never knows when they’ll reach that other side, you know.” Alphe T. Amirault

April 13, 1926

“I remember that day very well. I was 12 years old. It was just after the winter ice break-up. A northwest wind had breezed up after dinner, but it was fine and cool in the late afternoon.

I was in school. We had Catherine Belliveau (old maid) as the school teacher; she was smart, plain looking, a hard worker, and she had all of us kids under control because she was so strict.  One of the kids was Lawrence Isaar (d’Entremont); he was sitting on the western side of the school where he could look out the window across the harbour to West Pubnico. He saw three boys, Donald (Amirault) (Alphe's brother) and brothers Leslie and Bertie (d’Entremont) climb into a dory, leave the wharf and head across the harbour toward the island about half a mile away. Lawrence had a rather long neck; he was more interested in watching the boys than in his schoolwork.  While watching the boys in the dory, he noticed something was going wrong, he could see something shiny in the water, like a dory bottom up. He said to the teacher;”I think the boat is upset!” She dismissed the class right away. The boys ran to get help. There were three big strong men, Zik, (d’Entremont) Albert and Alfred Bill Paul (Amirault) cutting wood in Bert’s yard. They rushed to the wharf, grabbed a dory and headed out as fast as they could. They could see two people clinging to the boat; but they knew three people had left the wharf. They picked up Leslie and Donald, but there was no sign of Bertie. The water was very cold; the harbour had been frozen all winter. They knew Bertie couldn’t swim...

They brought the two survivors to shore, and helped them walk to Catherine Belliveau’s home to warm them up. Leslie died there, he was so cold, his heart was played out. It was quite a walk up the station road to the house, and they were wet, frozen, could barely walk at all. It was a big shock because Leslie had said, “If I get warm, I’ll be alright.”

Donald must have been in better shape; he survived. They never told him Leslie died. They came and told Mother (Shirley's grandmother Albertine Amirault) the boys got into trouble, that Donald was ok, but Leslie had died. She was in shock and said she supposed Donald would die too. But he was ok.

They got Leslie and Bertie’s father to come to Catherine Belliveau’s home and when he came they told him that Leslie had died. But they didn’t tell him that they couldn’t find Bertie. He went home to tell his wife Annie that Leslie had died but someone else had already told her about Bertie. When he got home he asked her “Ou est Bertie?” (Where is Bertie?”) She replied “Il est au fond de la mer” (He is at the bottom of the harbour).  He was shocked but he had to tell her about Leslie.

It was a very sad time for all of the community. They never found Bertie’s body for two months.  He was found in June on the west side by boys out clam digging. He had been floating in the water for two months. He was buried at the place we call “L’Isle Grave” on the west side of the harbour.”

Again - Thank you Shirley.  Sharing stories is like keeping our loved ones and ancestors alive in our hearts!

Alphe T. Amirault - b. 1914  d. 2013
Donald A. Amirault - b. 1908  d. 1999

Shirley is still very much alive and lives in Pubnico, NS with her husband Jim.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Caroline's Diary

Caroline is my confirmation name and I think I took it because despite the fact we only met when I was but an infant, I believe we would have been kindred souls. Caroline is my paternal grandmother who was lovingly referred to as Nana Nickerson.

Let me back up a tad...a few years ago my cousin Gail bestowed upon me our grandmother's diary.  You would have thought she gave me a diamond ring as this was a great treasure to me.  There was only one diary which was meant to be used in 1935.

Why do I think my grandmother and I would have been kindred souls?  Because she was crafty and everything she wrote about was also what I was interested in as well!  Family, friends, current events, births, deaths, weather, employment, what time her husband arrived home, travels, visitors, types of crafts she made, hair appointments - you name it, there was a line or two in her diary.

This diary is red, slightly tattered with gold lettering and the pages have aged with time.  Every page is not written on and some pages not only have multiple entries, but from multiple years.  What gives it even more charm is that she has written in it in pen and at other times pencil and a small child, maybe Uncle Joe, Uncle Bill or Uncle Charlie or even my dad who she lovingly referred to as "Dickie".  Her cursive is large and slanted not unlike the way my dad writes!

Caroline O'Meara Nickerson's Diary
Let me highlight some of my favorite entries (comments about each diary entry below photo):

She commented when her father, Richard O'Meara died in 1940. I learned through the diary that he had been in a coma prior to dying. Throughout her entries she mentioned him having to stay home to rest because of a heart attack and that he had a stroke.
She often mentioned who had bought a new coat or that she had been out shopping.
Charlie was her oldest child. She often commented on her children which included their military service, when they got married, and she even mentioned when my dad got his first tooth and birth weight!
Caroline often spoke of the weather. Here she mentions the hurricane of 1938. In other entries she had mentioned a snow storm with snow past her knees and the difficulty my grandfather had making his way home. She also mentioned an earthquake in Boston that rattled the house so hard that it awoke them from sleep and knocked over some items.
Who was the artist in this entry? Uncle Bill? Uncle Joe? It will remain a mystery until the end of time.
Caroline often mentioned getting her hair done referring to it as a permanent wave.
Here is where my dad got his first tooth...just under 6 months old.
This entry is a mystery that I'm hoping my dad might remember.
Nana Nickerson (Caroline) crocheted a bed spread and it took a year to complete. I'm sure she was proud because she used it right away!
Caroline often mentioned that my grandfather, Charles Savol Nickerson, donated blood or talked about collecting tin cans. I believe this was her ways of showing her patriotism during WWII.
Sometimes she just wondered. Maybe she was feeling a little lonely here in this entry?

As you can see my grandmother, without knowing it, left me a gift that will last all her family a lifetime. Thank you Nana Nickerson!