May 25, 2009

We remember... Memorial Day 2009

This Memorial Day, 2009, we remember all of our military past and present especially those who are fighting two wars to keep us all free from terrorists who harm the innocent and resent the freedoms we enjoy.  Over 5,000 men and women in the U.S. military have died since the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan; 36,000 wounded - this does not even account for the military from other countries who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that their loved ones and the citizens of their countries might live free.    Today, we remember them all and we are grateful as individuals, as Americans and as citizens of the world!  My father, George Charles LeBlanc knew something about fighting for our freedoms that we have long enjoyed.  The photo above captures him in his World War I uniform.  He fought with Yankee Division.  It was said at the time that World War I was the war to end all wars.  How wonderful if that had been true.  It was a war that incurred many deaths.
and a great many wounded.

Members of the Yankee Division were cast into the worse of the battles. 

Activated and Inducted into Federal Service: July 1917 (National Guard Division from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont).

Overseas:  October 1917.

Major Operations:
Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne
  • Days of combat: 210
  • Casualties: Total-13,664
  • Killed in action:  1,587
  • Wounded in action:  12,077

Inactivated, and returned to National Guard service:  May 1919

The Yankee Division was re-activated in World War II and continues as a viable part of the military today.

One day while searching for information regarding the 26th Yankee Division, I came across a photo on E-bay that was for sale by Zazzle.  Zazzle has purchased many photos from the National Archives and have made "reasonable" sizes of the photos available for purchase.  I say "reasonable" because an inquiry I made to the National Archives informed me that 1. the originals photos as huge landscape size photos and 2. very expensive if purchased from the archives.

Zazzle had two sizes of the photo I wanted.  The photo is of the final review at Fort Devens, Massachusetts before the Yankee Division was inactivated after World War I.  It is a great photo and I know that my Dad is "somewhere" among all of the military on the parade grounds for the last time.

I decided to inquire as to whether the company might have a photo of the company my Dad was part of - they did not but they purchased it from the National Archives and a few months later I was ab le to purchase a copy from Zazzle.  Amazingly, what could have cost me in the hundreds of dollars from the National Archives cost me only $25 and $35 respectively in a much more manageable size that I framed and hangs on the wall in this, my work space or home office as some might call it.  Next to those two photos is the photo of my Dad in his World War I uniform encased in a frame that also holds his Victory Medal with clasps or bars described as follows:   "
battle clasps were awarded for each of the major operations for individuals actually present under competent orders. The clasps, with a star on each side of the name of the campaign or one of the defensive sectors, were worn on the suspension ribbon."

To the right is what the WWI Victory Medal looks like.  I was able to find this on the Internet - my father's medal has four clasps representing the four battles he fought in.  I treasure the fact that my mother kept my father's enlistment and discharge papers, including his medal, safely among her treasured items.

[ I sometimes see these things on Ebay and people just do not realize the history they've given away.  Some of these items can never again be retrieved in any way.  A few years ago I tried to obtain new copies of my father's papers.  There had been a fire some years ago where the military records were housed.  My father's papers were among those lost in that fire.  So had my mother not kept these I would never have known my father's military history.]

World War I sources:  Wikepedia, Free pages military on, Zazzle Company

Patriotic holidays bring back great memories of when I was growing up.  As children, we would be playing out in the yard and suddenly we would hear the drum and bugle corps coming up the street.  Yup, a parade!  It just seems to me that everyone was so patriotic back then.  We didn't need a war to bind us together and to be proud of who we were.  I was so impressed with my family's patriotism that I have always been very patriotic as has been my husband and his family.

Family cookouts were great but if we had not been celebrating something American, we would not have been gathering to remember.  I hope every child grows up knowing what it is to be bound together with the pride of being American.

No matter our country, we should always remember the brave men and women who fought that we might all be free - and... don't forget to thank a Veteran!

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Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino

May 19, 2009

A preview of Sarah and Corey's Wedding

Sarah and Corey's wedding on Sunday, May 17th, 2009
Turner Hill, Ipswich, Massachusetts

Exchanging Vows
(Father Richard Clancy officiating)

Exchanging Rings

Mazel Tov!

Mr. and Mrs. Jackson

Much more to come including lots more photos and details of the wedding... please stay tuned!

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May 13, 2009

Some enchanted evening....

Sarah and Corey's wedding  is on Sunday

but first a review of photos from the Bridal Shower

Above photos of Sarah & Corey, who in their own little worlds, were dressed by their mothers who took the above photos.  Can you believe she had a sailor dress and he a sailor suit?  Was this an omen of what was to be? (smile) They even had the same haircut!

Sarah & Corey at the bridal shower

We have been talking about it for more than a year now and we are in the home stretch as the wedding will take place this Sunday, May 17th.  Today I thought I would share some photos from the bridal shower.

Above:  opening gifts

Some of the guests

More guests

There was one "gift" or surprise left for Sarah toward the end of the shower - Corey sang "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific. Before singing, in the photo above, Corey is telling everyone present  that the night he met Sarah he knew someday they would marry.  He did not know how or when but he knew.  You must know that there was not a dry eye once he said that and sang to Sarah with his beautiful voice.

Corey singing...                                                              Sarah crying as Corey sings to her... happy tears!

Rebecca - Sarah's sister and Matron of Honor
and the beautiful Bridesmaids

The bridal party prepared
a great brunch!

Yes, Sarah was surprised by it all.

Corey and Sarah are like two peas in a pod.  I always say that if these two are not meant to be together, I don't know who is.   So on to the wedding...  We are proud, happy and honored that Corey will be part of our family!

I end today's blog with the lyrics to...

Some Enchanted Evening
by Rogers and Hammerstein

Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger,
you may see a  stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even  then
That somewhere you'll see her
Again and again.

Some enchanted  evening
Someone may be laughing,
You may hear her laughing
Across a  crowded room
And night after night,
As strange as it seems
The sound of  her laughter
Will sing in your dreams.

Who can explain it?
Who can  tell you why?
Fools give you reasons,
Wise men never try.

Some  enchanted evening
When you find your true love,
When you feel her call  you
Across a crowded room,
Then fly to her side,
And make her your  own
Or all through your life you
May dream all alone.

Once you have  found her,
Never let her go.
Once you have found her,
Never let her go!

All rights reserved!!!

May 3, 2009

Mama and Me

Mama and Me

When I was a little girl, I thought there was nobody more wonderful and special than my mother who we fondly called "Mama".  Of course, I suppose children feel that way about their mothers and why wouldn't they?  Parents are the whole world of a little child.  As infants, toddlers and young children, we ultimately rely on our parents to fulfill our every need.  My parents, especially Mama, were no different.

Growing up in a French-Canadian ethnic neighborhood was the best.  Why?  Because we grew up with all of our aunts, uncles, cousins and especially our grandparents.  Our parish church was in our neighborhood as were all businesses owned by French-Candians  that allowed our migrant grandparents to take care of business in their customary language which was French.  So whether they went grocery shopping, were in need of pharmacy or other services, attending church (which was  most important to them), they could conduct business in comfortably in their mother tongue with which they had spoken since childhood in Canada.  I remember Dubrule Pharmacy that included a soda fountain.  We enjoyed many ice cream cones in the summer and ice cream sundaes on Sunday afternoons.  Each ethnic neigborhood had its own grocery stores, fish markets, fruit stores etc.  These neighborhoods were great microcosms of the larger world but best of all we felt safe.  Our doors were never locked and nobody was a stranger to us.

When hiring nuns to teach in our parish school of Ste Anne, they had to be bilingual speaking personnel who would teach their children and grandchildren not only English but French as well.  I always believed we were pretty fortunate to grow up in that kind of situation with our heritage always at the forefront of their minds for our own sakes though as children we didn't realize just how fortunate we were.

From "baby room" (called kindergarten today) through 8th grade we were taught in two languages.  No, we did not have a French "period" or "class" in those days.  Rather we had a half day of English and a half day of French.  During French classes we were taught the catechism, church history, french grammar, spelling and literature.  During English classes, we were taught the usual classes of reading, grammar, spelling writing, and arithmetic.  Of course, classes did not begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 2:00 p.m. as they usually do today.  We were in school from 7:45 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. until the schedule was changed to 3:00 p.m. half way through elementary school.

To their credit, les Soeurs du Bon-Pasteur de Québec/Sisters of the Good Shepherd, whose mother house was in Quebec on rue Lachevrotière, did a great job preparing the children of the parish for high school as well as for their future.  How fortunate we were to be fluent in both French and English.  As a child I spoke French before I spoke English and I do suppose that was because my Mémère and Pépère (grandmother and grandfather) lived next door for a while and Mémère Lévesque used to baby sit me quite a bit.  Wherever we went in our neighborhood we could converse in French at anytime.  Of course, like all young American children, we had a tendency to speak in English more than French even encouraged by our parents to do so so we would grow up as true Americans.

Thanks to them, we have grown up as true Americans but today we long for those days when there was someone with whom we could speak in the tongue of our grandparents and forebears.

I digress.. growing up with Maman was both interesting and fun for us as children.  Just about every summer Sunday the extended family would go to Canobie Lake for a family picnic.  Most of us had no automobiles so we would all take the bus that we could board at the corner of our street and head out for the day.  Most often we would go to 6:00 a.m. Mass and be on the 7:15 a.m. bus so we could get the picnic tables closest to the lake while at other times we would arrive early enough to reserve the kiosk so we would be in the shade if it was going to be a very hot day.  Everything depended on how fast the bus could get us there.  Sometimes it would have a hard time making the hill close to Canobie.  Buses were not what they are today!

At the end of the day, our extended family would take the last bus home at 10:00 p.m. and sing all the way home.  It was great fun for us kids!

In those days going to Canobie Lake was free admission and it was still a pretty rustic forest full of big pine trees.  We would tie our bottles of drinks together and lower them into the lake to keep them cool.  There were no coolers then.

There were a few amusement rides and a few food booths and life was simple.  Today it is quite expensive at Canobie because there are mega rides available.  I'd take the good old days anytime.

Of course, as great as Mama was in getting us ready for the day and sending us off on the bus with my brother and sister so we would arrive with the rest of the family, she always came later.  I don't remember her ever being ready to leave when it was time to go.  But that was part of who she was.  Her main purpose was to get us ready so we could have a fun day from beginning to end.  She would usually arrive at the Lake a couple of hours later with my Mémère who would usually go to 8:00 a.m. Mass.

Once in a while we would spend a Sunday at Salisbury Beach.  That was more unusual though.  Canobie was only a half hour from home in those days whereas Salisbury was an hour by bus.  Today you can get to Canobie in 10-15 minutes by car and Salisbury in 35-40 minutes depending on traffic.

Wherever we went Mama made sure we had a good time.  She loved to laugh, tease and have fun.  She always put in on the "dobbie horses" aka carousel. At certain times of the day or evening you could try to "catch" a "gold" ring as the dobbies passed a certain area.  If you could grab onto one you got a free ride.  I didn't get one often because I loved the dobbie horses that went up and down - the ones closest to the edge of the carousel did not move.  Often parents would stand there to grab a ring for their child to get a free ride.  I just loved the dobbie horses so much that I used to fantasize owning my own horse some day.

Now at Canobie Lake there was a "fortune teller".  My mother and aunts would go have their fortunes told.  You know it was taboo in those days but they did it for fun and didn't believe a word the fortune teller would say.  One day when they were done having their fortunes told, my father told us that his mother used to be a fortune teller.  Everybody laughed and thought he was joking.  I never knew my grandmother Odille because she died at age 42 when my father was just a young boy.  Let me tell you though that as I plodded through our family history, one day I went to the public library to look through City Directories and lo and behold my grandmother was listed as a "clairvoyant" aka fortune teller.  So my father was right.  I sure wish I'd known her!  Not because she claimed to be a clairvoyant but rather because she did what she must to help support a large family.  I see her as having been a very strong woman doing what she must to help her family survive.  They were very poor and when she died there was no money for a grave.  She is buried with in a grave belonging to friends of the family.

So that is also how I always perceived my Mama to be:  a very strong woman from who I learned much about surviving the ups and downs of every day life and hanging in there when things were difficult.

As Mama grew older and more frail I realized that my perception of how strong a person she was might not be entirely true or correct - I wondered whether or not I was mistaken.  As she shared some of her fears and concerns in her aging years, I realized more and more that she imparted to me the strengths she would have wanted for herself in the up and down years of her life:  however, no matter what she thought of and for herself, she had a greater and deeper strength than she ever imagined.

I am the last of six children.  Three children died at young ages.  My two oldest siblings, Rita and Emile died one month apart at ages 3 and 4.  A year later my sister Claudia was born, three years later my brother Albert, two years later my brother Alphee who died the age of 9 months.  Five years later I was born.

One time I remember my father telling me that when their children passed away, Mama would just sit in a rocker with their toys rocking back and forth.  They had died of whooping cough which was untreatable back then.  When I was under a two years old I contracted scarlet fever.  Quarantined to the hospital during that illness when I returned home my Mama patiently taught me once again to walk as I had been so decimated from the illness that I could not walk and was not talking much for an 18 month old.

There was never a day that passed when she did not tell us how much she loved us no matter how old we were and no matter how ill she was at the end of her life.  Today I do the same with our daughters and now our grandson.

So in spite of the lack of strength she thought lacking, Mama was a much stronger woman than she believed herself to be and I attribute so much of who I am because of who she was in my life.

Mother's Day is this Sunday.  In Mother's Days past, I used to love to sing all of the Mother's Day songs that we were taught at school or that we would hear on the radio.  On Mother's Day morning I would sing them one after the other for my mother.  Mother's Day was a very special day to honor Mama in a special way.

Mama I love you and think of you every day. 
Here is a recent photo of your great grandson Theo.