Wednesday, February 21, 2018

She Stood Her Ground

Marie has told me countless stories over the last almost eleven years. Some have lessons for us to learn, some are humorless and some are humorful. She does not complain about her hardships for the most part, just states facts that this did indeed happen. 
She and her husband lived in a cold water flat four stories up. If you have read the previous posts, this particular apartment cost five dollars a month.
Their first child, Marie, was very tiny, had been in an incubator for several weeks. Marie, being a normal mother was very protective of her new baby.
Marie told me that the landlord was a "slumlord." He insisted on his rent and would not do any updating.
She told me that she had been commissioned to bake a special cake for five dollars. That equaled a whole month's rent! So she baked the cake in the evening and was going to frost it in the morning. The next morning when she went to the kitchen, the cake was black with ants.
Those of you that know Marie personally know that the ants were the last straw! It was not only the lost five dollars she was very upset about, but she found ants in her baby's crib!!
She found the landlord and explained to him in no uncertain terms that he would exterminate the building or she would tell the Housing Authorities about the way he took care of his tenants and his building. He was unhappy but had exterminators come to the building. That was worse than the ants in some respect. Her family could not tolerate the spray they used, so they had to go to her parents for awhile until the "dust settled" so to speak.
When she got home the ants were dead, but she decided that she was going to wallpaper the walls and have a fresh start. It seems she said that there were fifteen layers of wallpaper; behind each layer of paper were dead bugs.
She went to the basement and there were bags and bags of trash that had been left to rot and accumulate.
There is a lot of the story missing, but I wanted to tell you about some of the things that she tolerated and worked through to get to 102.

She Did It Her Way!

As you go through Marie's posts you are finding a common thread of "eat or be eaten" to put it bluntly. You had to be tough in a large family, a father who was a dominant disciplinarian and the oldest living child.
She was educated only because the law insisted on it, she worked hard at home and away from home. Her parents took her wages except for one dollar a week. Work wasn't always something she looked forward to. This is a story I have heard many times:
When Marie worked in a pants factory there was a young man that in our times would be accused and convicted of sexual harassment. She complained about his flirting and sexual advances to no avail. One day he came up behind her and whispered something to her that was off color and it startled her and she whirled around and in so doing she hit him as she said, "in a place that hurt him." She was called into the office and was told that she couldn't do that to a man. She told her supervisor that it wasn't right that he kept after her for dates and wouldn't take no for an answer. And also she didn't mean to hit him and that it was an accident.
The supervisor did a very wise thing; he transferred him to the basement to work in shipping. It wasn't long before they discovered that he was stealing trousers and selling them on his own. He was not only fired, but black balled from the industry in that town.
She told her parents about it. This time her father believed her, but did nothing about it until, the young man decided that he would go to Marie's house and take her out without asking her first. Her father answered the door with a gun in his hand. Marie never had to worry about that young man again.
Interesting how things were handled eighty years ago without a single shot fired.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Marie's Sister, Theresa

There are many many aunts and nieces that are very close. In my opinion, I think that the examples that aunts set are about as important as their mother's.
I am guilty of saying that distance created that gap between my nieces and I. However, there are aunts and nieces that live a long ways apart and still manage to spend quality time with each other. This is the case with Marie's sister, Theresa and their niece, Jeannine.
The picture of Marie's sister, Theresa is to the left with her husband celebrating Christmas with their red sweater and shirt on. If Jeannine had dark hair like her aunt, they would be dead ringers for each other. 
Jeannine told me that she would stay with her Aunt Theresa during the summers and Theresa would stay with Jeannine at times after Jeannine was married. She taught her niece to can vegetables and bake bread. And I have a feeling that they did a lot of chatting along the way. How fun. 
I would very much love to have more pictures of aunts and uncles with their nieces and nephews. This is the only picture of Theresa that I have.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

As Paul Harvey Used To Say.......

This is the rest of the story. The story was finished by Marie yesterday out of the clear blue. I was telling her again that I was writing her story over in the corner where my chair is at her house and my computer and I Pad that she enjoys looking at.  She knows that I write down her stories on the computer. She has been looking at the pictures and reading the stories for years. I asked her yesterday where she and her husband went on their honeymoon. I knew where they went, I knew she didn't want to go to Canada, but I didn't understand why they went somewhere on their very special day if they didn't want to go there.
This is the rest of the story:
Marie said, "You have to understand that my family was very close." She has said that many times before, but I thought she meant warm feeling close. No she meant,(you do what your elders say, close)
Her grandmother, Julia Antil, insisted that they go to Canada, because she had a nephew that lived there and she wanted them to go and stay with them. Marie said, that her grandmother was not someone to argue with, so they went to Canada.
The selling point on this trip was that they could stay with her grandmother's nephew while they were there and wouldn't have to buy any groceries or rent a hotel. Marie gave me a wry smile and said, "that was not the way it was." She told me that in 1940 the stores close at an early hour and if you didn't have something you wanted, you were out of luck.
When they got to Canada, her grandmother's nephew told them they had only an hour to go do their grocery shopping before the store closed.That was their first clue that their honeymoon was not going to be free.
Marie told me that they went to the Botanical Gardens and that was about it for sightseeing.
While they were there, their car broke down and it had to be pushed quite a distance. The relative told them that they needed to take their car to his cousin and he would fix it because he was a mechanic. It was not a "free" fix.
When Marie was finished telling me this story about the week long honeymoon that was not any fun she started telling me about her grandfather being the Fire Department Chief. I have an old old picture somewhere of him standing beside his car wearing his fireman's uniform.
This story was told to me by Marie at the age of 102 years. If all the facts are not exactly accurate, who cares. Not me and I don't think her relatives will either. This is a story of feelings more than accuracy in my estimation.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Marie's Second Son, Francis

The story of Francis birth Marie has told me many many times and it is a fun beginning. It seems that Marie and her father were in the grocery store shopping and it became very apparent that the baby she was carrying was going to to be born sooner than later. As you are aware, Marie's father had gone through this many times with his own wife and asked Marie if she had any pain, she said, "No" and they continued to do their grocery shopping.  The store was owned by an older Italian lady and kept saying, "Mama Mia the bambino, it's going to come in my store!!" 
It seemed that Marie's mother kept telling her that she should name the baby Victor because of Victory day signifying the end of WWII. This time Marie held her own and named him Francis Joseph Lizotte.
Francis was called Francis, Frannie, and most commonly, Fran.
Marie calls him MY Frannie, when he does what she wants him to and gives me a very pointed look. 
Fran had a little band with guitars and drums. When Marie tells the story of this little combo she says the neighbors thought that the Beatles had come to town because his group sang Beatle songs. 
Fran and his brother, Roger were shade tree mechanics and fixed and tore apart twenty five dollar cars, wrecked them. raced them, borrowed each other's cars and had a good time.
At one time, Fran had a race care #52. He stopped racing, but you get to keep your number for life. His son, Robert asked if he could have his number and of course, he gave it to him. We have a model car that looked similar to the race car.
Fran and his wife, Donna, moved to Texas with their six children, bought a few acres lived in a huge tent, used an outdoor shower with sun warmed water. Although this was an adventure it was also a challenge I'm sure.
Fran loves to sing and even though there has been bumps in his road, he uses music to keep his mind peaceful and on an even keel. Karaoke had been his hobby for many years. He enjoys singing and entertaining. Music doesn't have to be perfect. Music can be therapeutic in bad times as well as fun in good times. Music at our house is a group entertainment. Fran usually talks our visitors into singing and they end up having a really good time.
His mother's family had some folks that were musical, Fran's nephew is an excellent singer and guitar player, Fran's son can do one great impression of Stevie Wonder complete with sun glasses. When Marie's granddaughter visited the musical talent was there with her and her daughter as well. When Fran's daughter, Rhonda and her two daughters visited a few years ago the girls taught people at the club how to do a dance that was popular in Texas. The folks loved it. I can remember being in the computer room listening to Fran sing and thinking how lucky I was to have a contented husband that filled my world with music.
A group photo taken many years ago when Fran's mom and dad and Uncle and Aunt were visiting Roger and Fran

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Old Fitchburg, Ma. Newspaper Articles

This morning, I was doing the sorting and pitching thing. I found a small bundle of saved newspaper clippings that Marie had saved. She did have a sense of humor. I am going to paraphrase a letter to the editor from the police department of Fitchburg in the early 90's.
A police office stopped a cab driver after he ran a stop sign. The officer said, "Why didn't you stop at the stop sign back there?" The cab driver said, "Well, I couldn't, I was going 90 miles an hour." The actual article said that the officer reported to the council that it was a usual day on the force.

She Was A Looper

One day Marie was telling me stories and she was telling me that she was so glad to get promoted to using a sewing machine at the Asher Pant factory she worked for. So of course, I asked, well what did you sew if you didn't use a sewing machine? She told me that she was a looper. I'm sure I gave her a blank look and said, "You were a what?" And she not so patiently said again, "a looper." Well, you see I was born in 1944 and she was already twenty-nine by then. I had no idea what kind of jobs there were in clothing factories. She had told me that she worked at a men's trouser factory, but had never told me what she had done.
Finally it dawned on me that she actually made loops! She gave me a look that said, "finally she got it." 
I cannot even imagine tediously making belt loops for men's trousers day after day. These jobs were not plentiful. People were waiting for factory jobs in those days were very grateful when they were hired. The pictures are from the internet that show how tiny they were. Also a pattern I found for inserting pockets.
A picture of tiny belt loops that Marie did by hand.