French Canadian Interview Project

I was born Anne Mary Raymond on January 2, 1910 in St. George, Illinois the youngest daughter and child of Xavier and Josephine Raymond. My family was a large one compared to today’s standards. I had nine brothers and sisters, and there was 20 years difference between my oldest brother and myself. At 91 years old, I am the only surviving member of my immediate family.

As was common for the time period, my brothers, sisters and I were all born at home. Back then, doctors made house visits to deliver babies, or women used the services of midwives. My mother was a midwife and she mainly assisted women during the birth of their children. In those days, childbirth and pregnancy were never discussed openly in public and were considered very private matters, unlike today where fathers may witness and videotape the birth of their children

Typical of most people from the early 1900’s, my father and mother were farmers. They farmed 700 acres located mostly in St. George, just northeast of Bourbonnais, and a few acres in other parts of the county . All of us children worked on the farm and it was very hard work. We had several hired hands as well to help out. Some stayed and received room and meals in return for their labor. We not only grew crops, but also raised animals such as cows, chickens, geese and pigs. In those days, there were no fast food restaurants. We grew our own vegetables and butchered the animals for meat. Almost all of our food was homemade by my mother. She also sewed most of the clothes we wore. As a young girl, I can remember a salesman coming to the house with a wagon selling fabrics and other household items. Mother would buy the fabric she needed to make our clothes from him.

Although life and work on the farm could be hard, some of my happiest memories are from my childhood spent there. Most of our time was spent outside, and we didn’t leave the farm very often. People didn’t travel like they do now. But, I do remember going to dances and parties. We also didn’t have toys like children do now. I believe I had one doll while growing up. Sometime we would cut pictures out of the Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs for fun.

I attended both public school, and Catholic school that was taught by the nuns. I finished grammar school and had 1 year, 2 months of high school. I rode a horse (bareback) one-and-a-half miles to school each day, or I walked in any kind of weather – rain, sleet or snow. I left school each day to attend religion classes taught by priests at the Catholic Church. During my childhood, my family only spoke French. We knew very little English. Over time though, I eventually learned English.

We had very few celebrations on the farm. No big fusses. Christmas wasn’t celebrated like it is now. We had our celebration on New Years Eve. There would be a big party and we had to kiss everyone – which I didn’t like much. Then we would get a blessing from our father. My father’s hobby was winemaking, so we would have some of the wine he made. For presents we would put our shoes outside our bedroom door at night and usually we got an apple. For dinner, we would maybe butcher a hog, duck, or chicken, and mother would make enough cookies to fill a milk can and enough donuts to fill a milk can. To this day, I still cannot make cookies that taste as good as my mothers.

At around fourteen years of age, I recall hearing a sound something like a lawnmower, which we didn’t have yet back then, and I ran out to the orchard and it was then I saw my first airplane. Early planes were big and very noisy.

The first movie I ever saw was with my sister Hattie. The movie was in black and white and had no sound. A piano or organ was played for the sound effects. It was a Wild West movie and I remember the piano making the sound of the horse’s hooves.

When my youngest brother, Rene, got married he took the farm in St. George and my mother and I moved in with my sister Henrietta (Hattie) and her husband in Bourbonnais. Hattie’s husband ran a bakery and we always had fresh bread. It was while living with my sister that I got my first job. My first jobs were cleaning houses. I cleaned a whole house for $1.00. I made about $3.00 a week.

Eventually, I came to live with a Kankakee Attorney, Gene LeMare and his family on East Court Street. I helped raised their children, and did the cooking and cleaning. Even though it was hard work, we didn’t have the modern conveniences we have today, I was treated quite well. It was soon after this that I met my husband to be Adrien Richard at a dance down at the town hall which at that time was near the Dairy Queen in Bourbonnais. We dated for several years before we married when I was 25 years old. The happiest day of my life was when I married Adrien on July 27, 1935 at 7:30 in the morning at Maternity BVM Church. We honeymooned in the Black Hills and Shawnee Mountains in Colorado. It took us ten days to drive to Colorado at 35 miles an hour. We spent $100.00 on our whole honeymoon.

In 1938, Adrien and I bought our house on Marsile in Bourbonnais where I have resided ever since. Adrien passed away 5 years ago after 60 years of marriage. We have two daughters, Stephanie Richard Yonke and Marcia Richard Rabideau. They are both retired teachers. Stephanie lives in Rock Island and Marcia lives in Kankakee.

My hobbies include gardening, quilting and volunteering at the church. I still tend a beautiful garden in my backyard, and have quilted probably over 75 quilts in my lifetime.

In my lifetime, I have seen five wars (World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf War) and lived through shortages of food and clothing. I’ve gone from horse and buggy to automobiles. I went from outdoor plumbing to indoor plumbing. I’ve seen the invention of the telephone, television, airplanes, and radio. I’ve lived through the Great Depression. Some of my happiest memories have been when times were at the toughest. We all had to pull together and take care of each other to survive.

Mother Father Josephine (Longtin) Raymond Xavier Raymond Children: 1. Homer 2. Xavier 3. Josephine 4. Matilda (died at 2 years old) 5. Rachel 6. Eugene 7. Rene 8. Henrietta (Hattie) 9. Aurora 10. Anne

For more information on Anne Richard, see the following issues of Kankakee's The Daily Journal: September 16, 1988 article entitled "Bourbonnais to Host Quilt Documentation Today"; and December 26, 1999 article entitled "90th Birthday."