The following interview was conducted by Vic Johnson at the David King Music Store in 1988. The interviewees were Adrien Richard and Roy Arseneau. The audiotape of this speech is available at the Bourbonnais Grove Historical Society, Stratford Drive East, Bourbonnais, IL 60914; phone 815 933-6452.
Interviewer Vic: We're going to put a tag line on this, and I'll read that and then we can go into this. I'm Vic Johnson and this is Legacy, reliving history through the spoken word. Today we're talking with Adrien M. Richard, 81, and Roy Arseneau, who just celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday. Adrien's recognized as the historian of Bourbonnais, and he's the author of the Village, a Story of Bourbonnais, and Tales of Another Day, and several other historical articles. Roy you were a recorder of deeds for Kankakee County, what else should we know about you?
Roy: You mean about the office?
Interviewer Vic: Your background, what did you do before you were a recorder of deeds?
Roy: Oh, well, in the first place, if you want, I'll give you full details from the start. At age five, my father who lived in Kankakee, moved to Bourbonnais, and bought A. Senasac's Bakery and he was used to being in a bakery, because he worked with Stam in Kankakee, Stam's Bakery. And at five, my brother George, my older brother than I, started in school the same year we moved there. Of course I wasn't six, there was another year, and that's when I started school. Now after leaving the school part go, the only thing I could say of any interest would be after I grew up I began working in the bakery with dad, and a age seventeen I went to service, World War I, in fact I enlisted in company L.
Interviewer Vic: Alright. We'll get back to World War I in a little while.
Interviewer Vic: When you came back from the service what did you do? After the service.
Roy: After the service? Oh, well after I came back, then that's the first thing I did I took a good rest. And then I went back to work with my dad, George Arseneau. And I worked there a number of years. After which, I was elected. Wait a minute. I'm getting ahead of myself. I became postmaster in Bourbonnais. Let's see. I think that was in the year 1926, if I remember right. I've got a few notes here. Well, I better check on them because when you get to ninety, you don't remember the things too well. Let's see here. 1917 enlisted. 1926, yeah, appointed postmaster in Bourbonnais. And I served until 1935. After which, Nels Marcotte was appointed postmaster in 1936.
I was employed after that at Florence Stove Company for maybe about nine years—just one year short of getting a pension. Ha, ha. The reason why is because I ran for county recorder, and I was elected in 1944. And I served two terms until 1952. That was the end of my second term. Then my last employment was with the Illinois Veterans Commission and ah, let's see, that was about year 1957—yeah, and that was my last employment. Ah, after that I retried. I got a few little odd jobs—didn't mean anything, just something to do. And ah later on, oh ah, maybe I [should] not get into it—my flying business and all of that stuff.
Interviewer Vic: Well let's talk about that later. Let's get a little background on Adrien now. Adrien, can you . . .
Interviewer Vic: Adrien, you where born in Bourbonnais?
Adrien: Not really, I was born in Bradley. Ah, I was about 50 feet away from Bourbonnais line when I was born. So, they refused to baptize me in Bourbonnais. Ah, I was baptized in Bradley. When I was married in '35, I went for my birth certificate and the priest there could not believe that I was born in Bradley or baptized in Bradley. But a few months later, my folks moved to a house they were, was being built and I lived there ever since then, and . . .
Interviewer Vic: You went to grade school in Bourbonnais?
Adrien: Yeah, went to grade school and Convent, what they called the Boys School, Vitorian Brothers teaching, and back again to the nuns. Which was all this time public school. And then from that point on, I went to St. Viator Academy and St. Viator College and graduated in 1929, just in time for the big depression. I came out of college with a college degree and got a job with First Trust Bank, as a bank messenger. Sixty bucks a month. Well I was lucky, and a lot of people didn't have work. And then of course I stayed there fourteen years. And then I went to Roper, or Florence Stove in those days. And I was there for twenty-eight more years, and at 1970, I retired. I retired to do things I like to do the best—write.
Interviewer Vic: Okay. Did you know Joe when you were working at the Florence Stove? Did you guys ah . . .
Interviewer Vic: You and Joe, knew . . .
Interviewer Vic: Oh, I'm sorry, Roy?
Adrien: Roy was working on the line. I don't think so. What time did you quit there at Florence Stove?
Roy: That's when I ran for recorder in 1944. That's when I quit.
Adrien: See, then I started in 1943. You must have been there just a year when I first came. I might have seen you in the shop. I'm sure.
Roy: Yeah, I remember that Adrien.
Adrien: Yeah you were there in the shop.
Interviewer Vic: I have to ask that question again. You don't have to answer it, so you can cut in. Ok, did you know Roy when you were working at Florence Stove Company?
Adrien: Yes, of course I knew him from Bourbonnais, but he was working on the assembly line. And of course I was working in the office. Only when I meandered out into the shop, and I got to meet him. I usually went over to talk to these people or they stopped and talked to me.
Interviewer Vic: Ok. Ah, what are some of the earliest things you remember about Bourbonnais when you were young?
Roy: Well, like I said, I was five years old when I move there, and ah, I didn't go to school until next year, but as time went by things did happen, but not very serious until there were two incidents that I can tell you about. If you want to talk about it?
Interviewer Vic: Sure.
Roy: I got them listed here. That's about the Capalleno kidnapping. You remember that?
Adrien: Capalleno? Yeah.
Roy: I forget what year that was, but they kidnapped the Ranieri boy and then they held him in the house over on River Street. You know where that's at?
Interviewer Vic: Yes.
Roy: They found out about it because ah, I believe that they released the boy. The boy described the place as by Saint Viator College by looking out of the window, and that how they found it. The found Capalleno. They traced the building that he described, in an airplane, I believe, and they finally found the place where. And they brought the boy over, and he verified it, and that's how they found it.
Interviewer Vic: Do you remember anything about that Adrien? Any details?
Adrien:: Oh I sure do, everybody remembers that. Another incident happened, of course that, when they, it was discovered the boy had been kept there, it got to be a place of curiosity. People just mobbed that street, River Street, to visit the house, and in many places they stripped stuff off the walls, plaster off the walls…and just, you know, because it was, had been the place where the kidnapping had been held. I remember they had a barricade across River Street to keep the people back. And one of the men there that was assigned to keep people from going back, was taking payments of a quarter to let them in. ha ha... well, maybe you remember, I better not mention names. But, I'm sure you remember him. But anyway, yes, we all remember that very well.
Interviewer Vic: And what happened to that boy that was kidnapped?
Adrien: Well, he was released and went back home to Chicago. His father was a well to do building contractor, and apparently they felt they could get some ransom out of him because his folks had had money. But it put Bourbonnais on the map.
Interviewer Vic: It was written up in the Chicago paper?
Adrien: Oh yes, yes, it sure was. It was headlines in Chicago.
Interviewer Vic: You said you had another incident? That was one incident you remember.
Roy: Oh well, I've got several as far as that goes. But you said…the early ones?
Interviewer Vic: Yeah.
Roy: The earlier one than the Ranieri boy kidnapping was…ah the killing of Toots Clark, I don't know if you ever heard about that?
Interviewer Vic: Tell us.
Roy: He killed him there with a fence post, mind ya, right along this…cemetery. And that night, while it was goin' on, I don't know how come, but all that night when I woke up in the morning I dreamt all about hangings out there at the woods, ya know. I didn't live too far from there ya know.
Interviewer Vic: What woods was that…would that be?
Adrien: Bourbonnais woods.
Roy: That's where the water works are in Bourbonnais now, the sewer…stuff there
Adrien: What is now called? …uh…
Roy: What's his name? …uh…
Roy: …uh…I can't remember his name now…Richard…the run…that…uh…black tops business…here…Richard…what is his name?…you know maybe…
Adrien: I can't…
Dave King: Panozzo?
Interviewer Vic: Not Azzarelli?
Roy: Triangle is it?
Adrien: Triangle construction. Richard Loiselle is it?
(All) Loissel, Loiselle.
Roy: Loiselle —that's the man.
Interviewer Vic: It was right along in that . . .
Adrien: Right at the gate at the cemetery, Maternity Cemetery.
Interviewer Vic: Right, and who was this Toots?
Adrien: Toots Clark, a cab driver in Kankakee and they found his cab out there and he was dead along side his cab.
Roy: They blame…well they didn't want to…they suspected ah, Shoven and Torpe from Bradley.
Adrien: That's right.
Roy: But they never could prove it.
Adrien: There was a Shoven.
Roy: But they never could prove it.
Interviewer Vic: Was robbery the motive?
Adrien: Nobody knows.
Roy: That's what they claimed at the time. They figured he knew too much I guess. He would know quite a bit as a taxi driver.
Interviewer Vic: What would he have known too much about?
Roy: Well, he was in the know of everything I guess. You know a taxi driver gets to know quite a bit.
Adrien: Well, that's hard to tell.
Interviewer Vic: Were criminal activities going on in the area?
Adrien: Well, there could've been some criminal activities that he might have known about, but didn't divulge it, and they were afraid he might. I don't know. I don't think anything was ever proved.
Roy: No, they could never prove that he—Shoven and ah . . .
Adrien: Those two people they accused, but they couldn't . . .
Roy: Shoven and Torpe, it's a wonder that I can remember the two names.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah. [laughter] What year was that, do you remember Adrien?
Adrien: I would say about 19… after the war, 1920, '21, because it's in my book. I know it would have to be. I got it listed in here as one of the incidents, early incidents, of murder in Bourbonnais which is a rare thing.
Interviewer Vic: Ah, what are some of your earliest remembrances Adrien, about Bourbonnais when you were growing up?
Adrien: Well ah . . .
Roy: Remember them religious parades they used to have?
Adrien: Well yes, yes, sure, sure the Corpus Christi processions.
Roy: The Eucharistic Parade, it used to be every year.
Adrien: The Corpus Christi procession.
Roy: Yeah, that's it.
Adrien: It was a religious service that was performed every year in June. They ah, there was a precession, in other words, it was probably the number one feast of the year for the Maternity parishioners, because everybody came, some even came from out of town to join. And there would be a procession down from the church over to a.. a… some home, private home. They went as far as the Legris home at one time, but then they kept pulling back cause it was too far. They would also stop on the front porch of what is now the Burke Administration Building—it was then Marsile Hall. And there was a benediction service there, then they would, in some years, they also went to the convent front porch with the high colonnades there ya know, made a beautiful setting and panels of things, of drapes that hung from the roof ya know. Now that's one time poor old Vince Peters worked, really worked his head off, because he was up at 3:00 a.m. in the morning cutting branches and everything to decorate the front porch.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah?
Adrien: For the, for the service. Then we…
Interviewer Vic: This was on Corpus Christi Day?
Adrien: Corpus Christi Sunday.
Interviewer Vic: Sunday?
Roy: Of every year. [The feast day of Corpus Christi is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church about two month after Easter].
Adrien: And it wound up back over at church for a final benediction service, which is, ah, there were four of them all together. And it took, ah, sometimes a couple of hours, to go through it. There was even a band, which of course Bourbonnais didn't have a band, but Bradley had a band. Which in Bourbonnais, people that belonged to it. Your brother, George, I'm sure organized a band, when they, in those days.
Adrien: And people would go down the street, ah, praying, singing hymns, and of course the priest with his entourage and the big cape, ah, not cape, but canopy that he carried over, four or six men carried over him like, ah, walked down the street. Ah, it was a tiring day, but it was very very, ah, people came from everywhere just to watch it.
Interviewer Vic: Do you know when that started and how long it was carried on?
Adrien: Well, it started, must have started, very early in the life of the Maternity Church. It ah, stopped only after they put in the highway, ah, Route 45, what is now 45/52, was something else in those days.
Interviewer Vic: Route 44 was that…
Adrien: I think 44 was the route number. They, ah, ah, ah, went down the street there and, ah, they quit only because, like I said, because traffic got a little too heavy, and the state began complaining they were holding up traffic, and then the final blow probably was, ah, ah, when St. Viator closed its doors there was no place to go, there. They went across the street to where, ah, a minister, Reverend Bowling lives there, two doors from my house. But that only lasted a couple of years. I would say that, lets see in '38, '40. I'd say about '41 or '42 is when it stopped. Ah, actually, it went up to '44 because the last procession, I have slides of the last procession there, and some of the boys in the honor guard wore there service uniforms. So '44, '45 and that was it, that was the end of it.
Interviewer Vic: Did, ah, Corpus Christi Day have some particular significance as far as…
Adrien: Yes, Corpus Christi is Latin for the Body of Christ and, ah, that, ah, was a, ah, ah, a devotion that was started in Europe many many years ago. I researched that, well it's in my book, that, stories in my book of the, ah, Tales of Another Day, and it seems they used to go way out into the country, with these processions, the country in Europe.
Interviewer Vic: This was in Europe?
Adrien: In Europe, yeah, France, Belgium, places like that, way out into Germany, went way out into the country, to various homes, and walked for miles. Ah, then of course it took over in France, and Canada, and the Canadians picked it up and of course all that was brought to Bourbonnais by . . .
Interviewer Vic: As a tradition?
Adrien: Canadian, French-Canadians yes.
Roy: While I was in France I saw one of them processions.
Adrien: Did you?
Roy: Yeah, ya know Corpus Christi.
Adrien: Yeah. During WWI.
Roy: It was probably, it was really observed, ah, ah, in a bigger way here than Christmas was, and anything like that because so many people participated.
Adrien: And, ah, of course, again the coming of Olivet, ah, the whole thing kinda died down because it got to be a curiosity thing, and ah, and people decided they better keep it inside the church.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah, I've read that ah, up until probably the 30's or 40's that in Bourbonnais that French was spoken quite commonly among the families, at least at home.
Roy: It used to be nothing but French was spoken then. When I first, do you mind.
Interviewer Vic: Sure go ahead, no.
Roy: When I first moved, came out there, like I mentioned at five years old, and as I grew up, ah I can remember that, nobody spoke Eng--, oh they spoke English alright.
Adrien: They spoke French at home too….
Roy: Only on occasions--everything was French.
Interviewer Vic: Do you speak French at home?
Roy: Oh yeah, 1 can still speak it too and read and write it, well the only thing is that if I write it now all the spelling will be...ha, ha...you know it's hard to remember that spelling business.
Interviewer Vic: Now, now when you, both of you were young and living in Bourbonnais, which was.. .had essentially this French culture and background, did you feel somewhat isolated or separated from the rest of the community like Kankakee and Bradley?
Adrien: Kankakee was pretty, a lot of French in Kankakee, a lot of French fellows in French club in Kankakee.
Roy: Although I do remember it was always the little remarks made you know, with different nationalities and that's bound to be.
Adrien: Oh yeah, over at school at the college, it was the Irish and the French, but they called us the frogs.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah, did you have much trouble you know, among the children as far as the nationalities went?
Roy: Nothing serious, nothing.
Adrien: There was nothing else but French people at the sermons in church, they didn' t change to English until the late, very late forties, and then for several years after that they had first the sermon in French and then one in English. Then after that, they cut it down to French and English at Christmas only so, ah. . .
Roy: There was about 2 Irish families there.
Adrien: Yeah, ah
Roy: McLaren was it, and Reilly?
Interviewer Vic: Ha, ha. Everyone else was French?
Roy: Yeah, we got along good with the Irish and the French. [Laughter]
Interviewer Vic: Now when you were young ah, on holidays, were there any special customs that you might have observed that were different from…?
Adrien: New Year's.
Interviewer Vic: New Year's… What was that?
Roy: All the holidays, national holidays and such.
Adrien: But that New Year's…
Roy: Outside of that was nothing…
Adrien: But New Year's Day was a special day.
Roy: Oh yes, that is a special day for French, yeah.
Interviewer Vic: Tell us.
Roy: New Year's Day was special.
Adrien: Well ah. . .
Roy: More than now, you know, today that's all forgotten.
Interviewer Vic: What was so special about New Year's as far as you were concerned?
Roy: Well it was more like Christmas than New Year's, you know.
Adrien: Well its true, ah, my wife was born and raised in St. George, and she says that they never observed Christmas as such as a family dinner, but gifts were exchanged on New Year's Day. I remember in Bourbonnais, that Ernest Graveline always gave his kids their toys on New Year's Day. But you wondered…some people suggested that maybe that there were bargains after Christmas and he could get them cheaper that way. But anyways that's the way it was. And people went on, exchanging, paying visits to different homes. We wouldn't have thought New Year's without going to visiting the nuns at the convent, and the priest in the rectory and wish them Happy New Year. Because then it was a big custom that's all.
Interviewer Vic: Were gifts exchanged on that day like that when you went to visit someone or was . . .?
Adrien: Not at our house, but others did, our house was Christmas.
Interviewer Vic: Were there any special holidays that you observed maybe that other people didn't?
Adrien: St John the Baptist.
Interviewer Vic: You observed that?
Adrien: The feast of St John the Baptist was observed and big picnics in Courville's Grove. You remember Courville's Grove?
Roy: Yeah I sure do.
Adrien: And ah, those big picnics held there, and that was something that followed after the thing that we observed on the Fourth of July there at the Historical Society. That was a result of that because that was ah, St. John the Baptist was the patron saint of the French Canadians.
Interviewer Vic: Where was Courville Woods exactly?
Adrien: Well, ah, where the house used to be, the ah, the Letourneau House?
Interviewer Vic: Yes.
Adrien: Directly back of that into the woods.
Interviewer Vic: That was Courville Woods?
Adrien: Into the Grove. It was George Courville's place.
Roy: I remember George Courville today.
Interviewer Vic: Do you remember him?
Roy: Yeah, and he had a son, ah…
Roy: Anton Courville, yeah.
Adrien: Went to school with him.
Roy: And then after that, who was it moved in there? Ah…
Adrien: Well, after him was ah, Courville, Gene Courville.
Roy: Gene Courville and his wife, in fact, there was something about them in the paper, not long ago.
Adrien: Well, she was at this doings at the 4th of July. They brought her from the nursing home in Clifton.
Roy: That's it, yeah, but, he's passed, he's gone now.
Interviewer Vic: Then there was an Oliver Fraiser that moved into that house.
Roy: Oliver Fraiser, he lived where the gas station is today, on North Street there, Bourbonnais, on ah, Bourbonnais on one side, Bradley on the other side
Adrien: There was a gas station there, on the, across from the Kankakee Federal, right on the corner, southeast corner.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah, but didn't he live in Letourneau's house at one time? Because ah, in Letourneau's history, he mentions an Oliver Fraiser.
Adrien: I think he did for a short time.
Roy: It's possible, I don't, I can't remember that.
Interviewer Vic: Okay, ah, in 1906, ah, St. Viator College was destroyed by fire. Do you remember?
Roy: Do I remember? Ho ho. I was six years old. I look outta the window from the bakery and I was right across the street, and them windows got so hot, we couldn't hardly hold our hands on them.
Interviewer Vic: The bakery windows?
Roy: And there was that fire right in front of us, and were we scared.
Interviewer Vic: When did it start? When did you first notice it? Was it in the morning or the afternoon?
Roy: This was in the evening.
Interviewer Vic: In the evening.
Roy: Yeah, I can't remember the exact time, the exact hour. But I would just take a guess it was around 7 or 8, somewheres around there.
Adrien: The theory was they thought maybe, see they had kerosene lamps in some of the student's rooms, and it was after supper and they thought maybe...
Roy: That was some fire.
Adrien: There might have been a hassle between a couple of them, monkeying around or horsing around ya know, and they dumped over a kerosene lamp...
Interviewer Vic: What time of year was this?
Adrien: Ah…it was…
Roy: It was summertime wasn't it? Spring? Fall? It wasn't in winter. I'll say that. [The fire occurred on February 21, 1906].
Adrien: No, it wasn't winter, because my parents lived on North Indiana in Kankakee and they ah, my father saw the flames from there and he hitched up his horse and headed for Bourbonnais because his father and mother lived there, and my mother's father and mother were living there and wanted to know what was going on.
Roy: You know where they got the stone to build that building?
Interviewer Vic: No.
Roy: From the quarry in Bourbonnais there by the river. Right down were you go to that ah water works.
Adrien: Yeah, limestone quarry.
Roy: Right close to the river there, there's a quarry there.
Interviewer Vic: Now what building specifically are you talking about?
Roy: Our church right now today was built out of that stone.
Interviewer Vic: Okay.
Roy: And the St.Viator College, the old St.Viator
Interviewer Vic: the old St. Viator was built.
Roy: Not this one.
Interviewer Vic: No.
Adrien: Do you know there was a gym that burnt down in '26 too, burnt down in '26?
Roy: Yeah. [The St. Viator gym burned on January 6, 1926].
Interviewer Vic: Do you recall the progress of the fire when you first saw it, and how…
Roy: Oh yes, it burnt all through the night. The next morning, of course, us kids ya know, were nosey. We went over there sneaking around, that's all I can remember.
Interviewer Vic: Did they have a fire department come and attempt to put it out?
Roy: Well, there was no fire department like today, but yeah, they has some firemen over there.
Adrien: I don't even know, did you have a waterworks in 1906? I don't think so.
Roy: No, you got me there Adrien. I don't remember when they started. I remember when they put that tank up.
Adrien: Yeah, the ah, the sewer went through in about 1916. The waterworks was prior to that I think.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah ah, well, 1915 I got from your book, village sewers were proposed and they appropriated the money, and that ...
Adrien: Ha ha, I wont argue with the book.
Interviewer Vic: [Laughter] And that was the end of the outhouse in Bourbonnais.
Adrian: that's right! No no!
[Laughter…unable to distinguish voices and what is being said, but something about there still being outhouses]
Adrien: Believe me, we had a fancy one in the back of our house.
Interviewer Vic: Did ya?
Adrien: And used it.
Roy: Can I say something that I think is of interest?
Interviewer Vic: Sure, sure go ahead.
Roy: Ah… going back again when I first moved in there as a young kid. There was no automobiles. The first automobile they had in Bourbonnais was A. Senesac. He had an old, not an old one, just a Cadillac, and a one cylinder, I remember seeing it going down the street there… chug, chug, chug. There was no pavement there, it was all dirt and muddy roads. And that curve was cement there that we've got now going around in Bourbonnais. That was not there. It was so much different. That I can remember now. It was something. And in winter, we used to go bobsledding, ya know, a bunch of kids.
Adrien: Well, you talk about winter, that was something else. It was different in those days. Today, they clean highway not sidewalks. In those days, they cleaned sidewalks, not the highway.
Roy: That's right.
Adrien: The only thing that got cleaned off in the middle of the street was what the streetcar cleaned off with their snowplows. So, they can go through a town. So, if you wanted, and cars were very rare in the wintertime. Usually they were up on blocks in the barn or somewhere out of . . . because they just couldn't operate them.
Roy: Yeah, that's what they had, transportation streetcars. If you wanted to go to town, you either had a horse and buggy or else you took the streetcars for a nickel.
Interviewer Vic: What were some of the things you remember about the streetcars? When you first rode them?
Roy: I remember Paul Bench being a motorman or conductor, or something, whatever it was. He was one of them, Paul Bench, Sherman Kuntz...
Adrien: Henry Berry, and Joe Nichols.
Roy: Those were the four. Two shifts, and a lot of times, the kids would play jokes on them. They would get behind them and pull that trolley ball. They couldn't go.
Adrien: Sherman Kuntz was a very, oh, he really got very nervous—jumping all over the place. It didn't take long for the college guys to find that out. And they did everything they could to harass him and tease him to the extent that....Remember when they first came, when they first came out with four wheel street cars, not the great big ones, but the two double trucks, you know, but the single ones. But the roadbed was kind of rocky. They would get a bunch of the students on the back end of the street car and the thing dipped down, you know, weave up and down there, with their legs, bending their legs. Boy that thing just about jumped the tracks.
Interviewer Vic: They would rock the streetcar?
Adrien: They would rock the streetcar. Oh yes.
Roy: Population, when I first went in there, I'm not sure what it was. But I don't think it was much over 500.
Adrien: About 560.
Roy: Later on, I remember the sign: 620. What is it today now? 14,000 or 15,000? Something like that.
Interviewer Vic: Now most of the homes at that time were built along what's called Main Street today and out toward Convent.
Roy: That's right.
Interviewer Vic: And what about River Street? Going down that way?
Roy: There were some, but not too many.
Adrien: They never went farther than your house there.
Roy: That's about right. That was the last one for a long time.
Adrien: Joe Fortin . . .Joe Fortin was the last one.
Roy: And at that time, that was just a little square place, remodel you know.
Interviewer Vic: Now someone told me that over where Toni Street is and south of there in that area, that was kind of low and marshy and that they filled that in. Do you remember any thing about that?
Roy:Yeah, but ah they did some farming in the back there too.
Interviewer Vic: Did they?
Roy: Yeah, there was some bad spots. That could have been it there.
Adrien: That was all farm, was a creek going back there too you know. And if that over flowed, that made it bad.
Interviewer Vic: Getting back to the streetcar for a minute—how far into Bourbonnais did that come before it terminated?
Roy: To the convent.
Interviewer Vic: It went all the way to the convent.
Roy: All the way to Convent Street where you turned and go north—you know, where the curve is.
Adrien: Until they put in the highway. Then they pulled it away from the curve and brought it back in front of the Legris place there.
Roy: [First name] Legris?
Adrien: Yeah. And they stopped there. That was the last stop at the end of the streetcar business.
Interviewer Vic: That was called the North Kankakee Electric Light and Railroad Company?
Adrien: Railway Company.
Interviewer Vic: Railway Company. And it ran all the way into Kankakee?
Adrien: All the way to Court Street.
Roy: I don't know when they raised the price from a nickel. Did they raise it, do you remember?
Adrien: Yeah, they raised it to seven cents, and they had a big to do about it because everybody was screaming their heads off.
Roy: That was something.
Adrien: And I think they finally got a dime out of them, the people. But that was in '31, '31 that the streetcars went out of business. They had threatened it many times, and they just couldn't make a go of it.
Interviewer Vic: Did the street cars run all night, or did they…?
Interviewer Vic: No.
Adrien: Ten-thirty at night was the last stop. Last stop in Bourbonnais, and there was a story about that. That a…the adult escorts…the guys were courting girls in Bourbonnais lived in Kankakee…why, they didn't have cars, they had to ride street cars. So a six-thirty streetcar at night was a…loaded with dates, going to the show for seven o'clock. And at nine o'clock, why a…they would get on the streetcar and come home. And maybe they had time to go to get a sundae over somewhere, some drug store, but a many of them wound up…they came home and a… well they didn't necessarily have to leave right away. The last car out was ten-thirty and that's when they had to or they were going to walk to Kankakee. Now at that time, Joe Nichols, who was a night… on the night shift, had four guys…it was Harvey, ah Russell, Roy Rivard, ah Armond Legris, and who was the other one? Fred Brault. Now they all had dates in Bourbonnais. So that a…he would never, you know, if they weren't out there he would wait for them. And if they took too long saying their goodnights…why he'd pound the bell on the floor [laugh] "Come on let's go [laugh] I wanna go home"
Interviewer Vic: When you went into Kankakee, what theaters did you see? Ah, er, what shows where there for you to see?
Adrien: Oh, a lot of them. There were a lot of theaters in Kankakee.
Roy: We made one show up for ourself one time.
Interviewer Vic: Is that right?
Roy: Yeah, I had a dummy. You know on Halloween?
Interviewer Vic: Uh-huh.
Roy: And, uh, I thought it was smart, you know. I laid it across the tracks. Was it Herman, or which…? Picked it up, took it to town, and he, he, he got it. It looked pretty good for a dummy, you know. I had it pretty well made. He took it to town, got on the middle of Court Street, he took it by the neck like that and hit it and bam! There was a big bunch of people. He knocked it around and they thought it was a man.
Interviewer Vic: Knocked it right out of the streetcar.
Roy: People thought it was a human being. We got a kick out of that.
Adrien: Well, Vic, to answer your question, when I was a kid, ah… my Saturday afternoon treat was to take the streetcar—my father worked in town—and, ah, I'd go see my dad and he gave me a quarter. That meant I had enough money for two movies and a bag of popcorn, and after the second movie, I'd come and, ah, meet him at the store which was Juleno's across the street, ride home with him on the streetcar. Well, ah, there was a Liberty Theatre, which is, was located right where, ah, Jaffe's is now, Jaffe's Drugstore. Next to that was Lapate Theater. Next to that was ah a popcorn stand, was this old gent there with a big white mustache used to sell popcorn there. Next was a Court Theater. Then you went down a little further Shotorsire where the Princes—changed name. There was another one on Southeast and Court. Don Bestry used to play the piano there.
Roy: What was that one down the hill there?
Adrien: Ah Lyric Theater on East Avenue.
Adrien: The Lyric. But that was a . . .they didn't even have. . . the other movies had people who played the piano or Lapate was first one to come with an organ. But down at Lyric ah, it was just a machine that played the piano and you might have been in the middle of a love scene and the music was made probably for ah Indians having a fight with the cowboys.
Interviewer Vic: Is that right?
Adrien: It didn't fit at all. As a matter of fact, I was there a couple of time only reason I went is to see a Dempsey fight or some kind that the other shows that didn't show.
Interviewer Vic: Was it a newsreel or a film of the fight?
Adrien: No..no…it was a movie of the whole thing.
Interviewer Vic: A movie of the whole fight?
Adrien: Yeah, yeah, then of course there was the Majestic around the corner…south on ….north on Schuyler Ave, but there was a lot of movies at one time.
Interviewer Vic: The Majestic and the Luna Theatre I've heard had vaudeville shows or stage shows at one time?
Adrien: Yes, yes they sure did, ah, in fact I appeared on at Luna one night for a midnight show.
Interviewer Vic: Did you?
Adrien: It was a benefit affair for ah, for the people in ah, Mississippi or somewhere…had a, there was a flood, flood thing and we had a quartet…. There was Roy Rivard, myself, Omar Tetreault and Omar Rivard... and one of your old war buddies, Jack….you remember him Roy?
Adrien: Yeah, well, anyway we had quartet there and ah, somebody heard about it and they asked us to ah to sing there that night. We were accompanied; we weren't accompanied, but on the stage was also ah, what was this guys name? He was in a band from way back …well I can't think of it right now, but anyway, ah yes, ah another thing at one time, I was in the Liberty Theatre on Saturday afternoon. So you know you realize how early this was and I probably twenty or twenty-one and ah I was at the, in the Liberty Theatre and some kid walked in and he said "Airplane! Airplane!" Everybody rushed out of the theatre like it was it was on fire. We stood out there on Court Street, watched that airplane go by, after he disappeared out of sight, we all went back in [laughter] and finished the movie.
Interviewer Vic: What kind of acts did they have? Were they well known?
Interviewer Vic: Vaudeville. Ah performers that came here?
(Adrianne) Yeah, vaudeville. Luna especially had Vaudeville. Majestic had some too, but not as much as the Luna.
Interviewer Vic: Did you see any name stars at that time that ah you could recall?
Adrien: [chuckled] You wouldn't remember'em…[laughed]
Interviewer Vic: No, probably not. [both laughed]
Adrien: No, no, I can't think of right now. I'm sure there were some, there were some of our ah big name ah comedians.
Roy: Movies were the main go as far as I was concerned. I didn't care too much about the vaudeville [chuckled]
Interviewer Vic: Movies were silent?
Roy: Silent movies.
Adrien: But ah some, I forget who it was, I don't know if it was Jack Benny or it was somebody like that, that ah was there 'cause they said once they had played in Kankakee.
Interviewer Vic: The old story that Fred McMurray was born in Kankakee.
Adrien: Yes that's right.
Interviewer Vic: Because his family was uh… [interrupted]
Adrien: Yeah, on my birthday.
Interviewer Vic: On your birthday?
Adrien: Yeah.. we're exactly the same age.
Interviewer Vic: Is that right?
Adrien: Yeah his parents were vaudeville people.
Interviewer Vic: Um uh.
Adrien: And apparently the mother got set, figured it was his time and when they stopped in Kankakee .. so they took her to what then the emergency hospital, now St. Mary's …and Fred McMurray was born there.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah..How we doing for tape Dave?
Dave King: We still got about 10 minutes.
Interviewer Vic: About 10 minutes..okay.
Roy: In the early days when Bourbonnais(ay) was Bourbonnais(ess) Grove
Interviewer Vic: Bourbonnais(ess) ..Yes.
Roy: Bourbonnais(ess) Grove.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah
Roy: The real Bourbonnai(ay) was Kankakee. That's its real name.
Interviewer Vic: It was already platted as Kankakee.
Roy: Yeah, you see the first platt, you see the town of Bourbonnais.
Interviewer Vic: Now you never, either of you, or Adrien, ever said Bourbonnais(ay) as the village was concerned until 1976 when the name was changed.
Roy: Yeah. Well of course in French, its Bourbonnais(ai).
Interviewer Vic: I've seen some old spellings of Francois Bourbonnais' name.
Roy: Francois—that's where Kankakee got its Bourbonnais at.
Interviewer Vic: Right. And its spelled phonetically as if it might have been pronounced Bourbonn-ya with kind of a twang on the end of it. Because they spell it with aint or something you know as if they were spelling it phonetically.
Adrien: It seems to me that for the pronunciation you would have to have a little, a little marker over the "i" I think it is.
Roy: When Francois Bourbonnais came from France, you know the old people, foreigners used to come over here, they didn't always keep their own name, they always say where they were from. Well, he was from the plateau Bourbonnais.
Interviewer Vic: Right, but the family name was Brunet.
Roy: Its like the Leo Burton family, Kerouac. Her name is Kerouac, but they went as Burton see.
Interviewer Vic: Now you remember that from the translation you made?
Roy: I didn't get that?
Interviewer Vic: You remember the name Bourbonnais being the name of the place that Francois Brunais came from in France from the translation you made?
Interviewer Vic: You remember that?
Interviewer Vic: No. Well, let's get on to World War I when you entered the service. Did you enlist or did you . . .?
Roy: Well, I actually enlisted in Company L.
Adrien: And you lied about your age.
Roy: And I lied about my age, yeah [laughter].
Interviewer Vic: How old were you?
Roy: I was only six-, lets see, I was seventeen and they told me. . .
Adrien: You had to be eighteen.
Roy: . . .[First name] Lebeau said "you better go change your age, I best say something because they are going to put you out, they already kicked one guy out." So, I ran up there and I said that I was born in ah 1890, ah '98 instead of '99, I made a mistake. That fixed it. [Chuckles]
Interviewer Vic: Now where did you go to enlist?
Roy: It was here in Kankakee in the armory.
Interviewer Vic:You went to the armory in Kankakee?
Roy: Yeah. The company "L" was there.
Interviewer Vic: And then what did you do? What happened to you then?
Roy: Well, we were in company "L" and we had our drills every so often and later on the government drafted us into the national army with the war going on.
Adrien: You were more or less in the national guard at the time?
Roy: National guard, yeah. Then we were in the national army, and ah, well now we went training in Texas. When we were in Texas, they found out that I came from a bakery family, so they transferred me to the bakers, Bakery Company 322. And we left from Hoboken, New Jersey, went to France and we served as bakers there at Dijon. It was right out of town, the town of Dijon. In the bakery company for, I don't know, for about six months, and then we went to Michelleset, Luxembourg. And we baked bread there for the boys for I don't know how long. Maybe it's a good thing that they transferred me out because I might have been the one that got killed. Several got killed there.
Adrien: There was only one in that company—Maximillian Legris. Max Legris died at sea. Remember, on his way over?
Roy: Yeah. But he wasn't in Company L.
Adrien: Oh, he was not in Company L? All right, okay. I didn't realize that.
Interviewer Vic: When you got over there into France and Belgium and you could speak French could you make yourself understood over there?
Roy: Oh yeah. I certainly did! [Laughter]
Interviewer Vic: That was a big advantage right!
Roy: I didn't have any trouble either. In fact, I was the only one in the company that knew anything about French, and they were after me to go out with them.
Adrien: World War I, it was a very valuable asset to have, to be able to speak French.
Roy: I brought back a German Lueger with me. I bought it from one of my buddies. And he got it from a man that took it off from a dead officer.
Interviewer Vic: Did you, ah, of course you were never in combat when you were there?
Interviewer Vic: But were you near the lines at any time when the fighting was taking place?
Roy: No, but I would have been if I would stay in Company L.
Adrien: Oh yes, they got the brunt of it over there.
Roy: And you know about Company L. There's only I and Les White that's left in this Company L.
Adrien: Oh, is that so?
Roy: That's all.
Roy: That I know of.
Adrien: We have an Honor Roll there in the grotto in the cemetery next to the church which is of the men who were in service in World War I. His name was very much at the top because of Arseneau. He is also the only one left.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah.
Roy: It was two until Leo Roy died!
Adrien: Leo Roy, yeah.
Interviewer Vic: Did you have any interesting adventures while you were in Europe that you can talk about—experiences?
Roy: Well, not so much except at one time, out of luck, I took that gun of mine along with me to show it to some people in France or in Dijon, and when I came back, the guys told me, he says you know, he says ah "what'd you do (asks) what'd you do with your gun?" "That's my business," I said. I had it on. "Well" he says, "it's a good thing you didn't have it where you had it, because I forget this guy's name now, its so long ago, he says he was after sergeant soldier and he was going to shoot him, and he would have, oh ya know he was a little bastard, pardon the word.
Interviewer Vic: And he was looking for your gun?
Roy: Yeah, and he would have killed him too because I had shells in it and everything, that German Leuger.
Interviewer Vic: So, you stayed until the war was over then? You were in Europe until the end of the war.
Roy: Ah, no. After the war was over, they kept us there on ah, what did they call that? Some kind of extended serviced—occupation army.
Adrien: Yeah, army of the occupation.
Roy: And we stayed six months more than the rest of them I guess. They had to have bread for the remaining soldiers. They couldn't take them all at once. It took a good year, wasn't it?
Adrien: That's because they liked your pastries, Roy.
Roy: [Laughter] Yeah!
Interviewer Vic: Did you remember Armistice Day?
Roy: Oh boy, do I, because you know what, it just happened that day that I used to get this sinus trouble and it bothered me so much, and it used to come, I was so sore, it almost knocked me out. So they sent me to the hospital. Here I was on Armistice Day in the hospital.
Interviewer Vic: In the hospital?
Roy: Do I remember Armistice day.
Adrien: I do too, very well.
Interviewer Vic: What do you remember about Armistice Day?
Roy: Well, ah first at school, we had two Armistice Days. One that was, they rang the, they gave us the armistice about three days ahead of time. And rang the school bell there at that Boys School here, the brothers. But then found out it was a false alarm. So three or four days later, the word came again and then everybody of course just outside, and ran and bells rang. I went home and ah, my mother said we're going down town. So we, took me and we got in the streetcar and went down town and in the middle of Court and Schuyler Avenue, had a huge bonfire, built right in the middle of the street. And ah, everybody was wild. Unfortunately, we had some German, ah, merchants in Kankakee. They painted their places yellow. They shouldn't have done that, but they you know, they had no control over that. They were name like Umback, Volkman, and there were some others too. But I couldn't forget it.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah. There was another thing about the time of World War I was the Spanish Influenza.
Adrien: Oh, yeah.
Roy: Oh boy, we had a lot of soldiers lost. From the influenza.
Adrien: Well, I just got through saying Maximillian Legris. He was the only casualty we had from the parish. Ah, and he died at sea with influenza and they buried him at sea. He was on his way over.
Interviewer Vic: How bad was it around here? Do you remember?
Adrien: Oh just bad enough. I had it. My father had it. We were both in bed for two or three weeks, and my mother was just a frail thing of 90 pounds—took care of both of us, and she didn't get it.
Interviewer Vic: She didn't get it?
Roy: In the army, they said nothing cured it but rum. And I'm not a drinking man. So, I went and bought me a bottle of rum, and I had it see, and I was kinda afraid that because a lot of them kicking off.
Interviewer Vic: Yeah.
Roy: So I drank that, most of that bottle, and man did I pass out. [Laughter] I woke up the next morning. . .
Adrien: Well you know, during that epidemic . . .
Roy: My head had about that big, but I got over it, the flu though.
Interviewer Vic: Did it cure it do you think or . . .?
Roy: I don't know if it was related to that, but I never got sick after that.
Adrien: During that epidemic, ah, they ah, those who died of it in Bourbonnais(ay) or Bourbonnais(ess) ah, they didn't take the bodies in church. They backed the hearse up to the front door of the church. They never took the body out of the hearse. You probably won't know that.
Interviewer Vic: Adrien.
Interviewer Vic: We're out of tape.
Adrien: All right.