French Canadian Interview Project

Interview with Duane and Junetta Bertrand, Russell and Ardelle Ommen—April 15, 2002. The Western Civilization course student interviewers are Megan Reider, Josh Boudreau, and Jason Grace.

The video and audiotape that correlate with this transcript are available in the Kankakee Community College Learning Resource Center. The videotape #V-RH 31 is on reserve. The audiotape "HIST INT #14 Parts 1 and 2" can be checked out of the LRC for one week.

Interviwer Megan: So how far back can you trace your family history?

Duane: Well, my great-great grandfather goes back to Leon Bertrand.

Ardelle: How many generations?

Duane: And he was born in St. Julianne Quebec, Canada. My grandfather was his eighth child and he was known as Henry, so we called him Henry VIII.


Duane: But anyhow, then he was my grandfather’s father, then of course, my father. But as I said earlier, some of my relations was Napoleon’s Grand Marshall. Now I don’t know what a Grand Marshall is or what he did. This was back in 1773. So, what else do you want? I had six, uh, there were six of us in our family. One brother and four sisters.

Ardelle: That’s only five.

Duane: No, one brother, and four sisters, and there’s me too, that’s six.


Ardelle: Oh, okay.

Duane: I was the third.

Ardelle: I never counted myself either.

Duane: I was the third, I had two older sisters. My second oldest sister and I kinda were closest. She would make me either wipe the dishes or do the dishes. Way back when I was born in '29, money wasn’t easy to come by so we washed dishes in a dish pan on the kitchen table. And, uh, first we kinda always kinda, had something between us so if one of us would catch the other one that was washing the dishes with a little speck on the dish before we wiped it, we threw it back in the dish pan.

Interviewer - Megan: That still goes on, my siblings do that so…

Duane: Pardon?

Interviewer Megan: I said, my siblings do that too, one little speck and it goes back in the dish water.

Duane: Back in the… we would just love to throw it back in the dish pan, wash it over!

You know so that was the way life was back then, but when I was uh when I was young I couldn’t wait to get out of the house, and so my dad had a uh hired man that went to help an uncle of mine that got sick so I don’t know, I was eight or nine and I was able to put on some uh big overalls and go out and help dad milk the cows and the chores. And that got me outta the dish washing and the dish wiping and everything and boy I was happy as hell!

Interviewer Megan: So your dad was a farmer then?

Duane: Oh yeah.

Interviewer Megan: Yes.

Duane: Yeah we farmed

Interviewer Megan: Ok.

Duane: We farmed. So uh I attended uh uh what they called the Bertrand school, uh which was about half a mile south of where we lived, and uh walked everyday rain or shine, snow or sleet. Both ways up hill.

Ardelle: Oh both ways up hill that’s a good one.

Duane: And, and it was a one room school house where they had eight, eight, eight uh.. grades in that school and I was the only child in my grade.

Ardelle: Never heard that before.

Duane: So..uh..yeah that was it.

Ardelle: So you goofed off?

Duane: No, but I listened, I listen a lot to what the students... what the teacher was using ahead of me so that when I got to that grade I kinda knew a little bit of the answers, you know. So, uh anyhow uh that school district was disbanded. And then joined the Herscher School district and my father bought the schoolhouse and moved it to the farm just a half mile away. And turned it into a garage and that schoolhouse is still standing on the farm today. Although we…since my mother died that’s been sold.

But ah that’s kinda it. Uh, when I was in 7th or 8th grade I forget what I was, my uh my teacher lived I think in Kankakee, but we had a coal furnace in the school and so she made a deal with me for fifty cents a week if I could get to the school maybe a half hour of forty-five minutes early and make a fire in the furnace so that the school house would be warm for the rest of the students. Well, me and another classmate of mine, or another friend of mine, in winter time and it had snowed, we decided to go rabbit hunting that morning. And so we got involved in the rabbit hunting you know. We were chasing rabbit tracks and we had a dog. I got to school late that morning and there was no fire lite in the furnace.

Interviewer Megan: Did you catch a rabbit?

Duane:And my teacher… The dog did, because we went with a dog and a stick, that’s what we went with. And, my teacher wasn’t happy with me that morning. So I don’t know whether I got paid 50 cents for that day or what.

Junetta: That was big money.

Duane: That was it and we had a coal house out in the back and a cob shed out in the back and you’d have to haul it in there and build up the fire, you know.

Ardelle: And a pump out front I’ll bet?

Duane: Pump out front, yeah, we did. And outhouses, definitely outhouses. Pardon?

No, that was…

Russell: Abe Lincoln

Duane: I was thinking of her name, but now I forgot it but anyhow, she gave me a silver dollar when I graduated out of eighth grade, and I still have that, silver dollars. That was just prior to WWII also, so… cause I uh, I went into high school in ‘42 and that’s when ‘41 was WWII.

Interviewer Megan: Full power, yeah!

Duane: When the depression was on, there was no money. I mean they just, you know, the folks took their eggs into town and they bought groceries and most of the time the eggs bought the groceries that they didn’t raise. And I’ll never forget the time dad took me to the fair in uh Kankakee. The fairgrounds where it’s at now and he just visited with all his friends that he met and everything and ice cream cones was a nickel. And my tongue was hanging out (everyone laughs) that long for an ice cream cone. Buy I knew better than to ask him for a nickel for an ice cream cone. So I didn’t so all day long I went without an ice cream cone or even a sip of pop. That’s how . . . and my dad didn’t believe in banks at the time.

Ardelle: Because of the depression.

Duane: Because most banks had gone broke and so whenever he got some cash they hid it in the house, either under the linoleum or under the carpet or wherever. The cash was hidden and that’s how we survived. Butchering our own beef and uh . . .

Junetta: Making blood sausage.

Duane:And uh . . uh . . .chickens. You know. Come home on Sunday morning from church. Go out and catch a nice little ol’ fat chicken and. . .

Ardelle: Thought it was Saturday?

Duane: and . . .no, no, no. It was always Sunday morning. And dress it and my mother would put it in this big black skillet. Fry it, you know, in a lot of grease. That was good eating. Then when she went to . . . when she went to the market, once in a while she’d buy . . . we didn’t have refrigerators. We had iceboxes. So you couldn’t keep milk cold or you couldn’t keep anything cold, you know, because you had an icebox down in the basement. But she would buy a quart of ice cream and some sliced cold meat . . . come home, and I’ll tell you what, now that was a feast. A dish of ice cream and a cold meat sandwich. . . on fresh bread. So that was it, you know.

Ardelle: Did you have an iceman come around?

Duane:We had an iceman came around. The stories about the iceman wasn’t true, at least in our house.

(Everyone laughs)

Russell: You sure you’re a Bertrand?

Duane: No, they weren’t true.

Interviewer Josh: Where was the school located?

Duane: Where was it located? It was located on 9000 south road… uh, … 3000 south and 9000 west road, I said south road, but 9000 w road

Interviewer Megan: Is that behind Warner Bridge Road?

Duane: No, no, you know where Scanlon’s Auto body is? Well the road on this side of it is 9000 and then you take that north 2 ½ miles, and then I was born about 2 ¾ miles down.

Interviewer Megan: So, have you been in this area most of your life, then?

Duane: All my life.

Interviewer Megan: Yeah, all your life.

Russell: Yeah, we moved up here in 1957.

Junetta: Oh, you mean here.

Duane: In this area. I used to live at this house. But anyhow, that’s pretty much the story of my life. I, uh…we got married when we were both young. Uh, Ma was nineteen and I was eighteen, and I worked as a hired man, and then I went to farming and the farm I was on sold two years after I farmed it. And, uh, the Korean War was on. In the day I…there was no way I could rent another piece of land because of the Korean War. So I decided to make a farm sale with the little bit I had, and, uh, I got my 1-A draft notice.

Junetta: That day.

Russell: The same day I had the farm sale.

Ardelle: Where were you living, then?

Junetta: On the …farm.

Ardelle: Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Junetta: Where Johnny Fulton lived.

Ardelle: Yeah, right. It was like an average of, uh, about two miles from where the home farm was? Our home farm?

Junetta: Really about a mile.

Duane: Only a mile..oh yeah, just a mile. But anyhow, okay, so I got a draft notice. So, I had to go take my physical. So its in the wintertime- it was in December- so I went up and took that. Yeah, sure. And the army passed me. So I decided, "I don’t think I want two years in a fox hole." So I joined the Air Force for four years, and that’s where I spent from ‘51-‘55, was in the Air Force. But I was lucky, I polished the right apples and-

Interviewer Josh: laughs -that’ s a good way to put it.

Duane: And I had one year in New Mexico and three years in San Antonio, where my wife was able to live with me. We lived off base, this and that and the other thing, and I acquired the rank of staff sergeant a year and a half before I got discharged. They wanted me to re-enlist, but I, I had farming in my blood, so back I come- went to farming- and so. Then, I bought the grain company in Irwin, in ’67 and, uh, bought this land out here and this house and built this house. Raised four kids, mother and I raised four kids, I should say; she did more raisin’ than I did.

Junetta: That’s raisings- I don’t like raisins.

Duane: And, uh, that’s about it. Now I’m just sitting around, ya know, just an old fart waiting to die, I guess. What the hell do we do now? On social security, waiting to die.

Interviewer Megan: Enjoy retirement, that’s what ya do.

Duane: No, you, you don’t enjoy it. . .The doctors, the doctors enjoy retirement is what they do. The doctors and the hospitals.

Interviewer Megan: I understand; I work in a hospital.

Duane: And the pharmacies; they enjoy your retirement.

Junetta: Which hospital do you work at?

Interviewer Megan: St. Mary’s.

Duane: Ya know. So, I go to get my prescriptions renewed, and they said, "Well, it’s been a year or so." Alright, alright, I’ll contribute to the doctor’s retirement fund, I guess, one more time .

Ardelle: He’s gotta go see the doctor today.

Duane: Before I die, so I can have my pills renewed. So this is what they require, ya know, they all, they all just kinda-

Russell: My prescription just ran out.

Laughter and chattering

Interviewer Megan: So are you still close to your brothers and sisters? Are you still close to your family?

Russell: Am I close to my fam- you mean my immediate family?

Interviewer Megan: Yeah, your sisters and brother, too

Duane: Oh yeah, I just come back from Houston, visiting my sister, my baby sister. She spoiled me, she spoiled me like- I come home to reality, "aw jeez"

Junetta: Then he gets home to no breakfast in the morning.

Duane: My daughter, my daughter had a seminar down there in Houston, and so I said, "well, we’ll just drive down there," ya know. So instead of taking the airlines its cheaper than flying, anyhow, so we drove on down and of course my sister lives there so it worked out fine. She went to the seminar and I lived with my sister for four days.

Junetta: Bet she waited on you hand and foot.

Duane: And I got to see a couple of her daughters and I got to see my nieces.

Junetta: Harry and Kim live in Oklahoma.

Ardelle: Did you see all of them?

Duane: No just the two girls, But anyhow, yeah, and I’ve got two sisters that are older than me that passed and I’m the next to go and that’s not a good feeling. Then my brother and then I got a sister that owns and operates General Color and Equipment in Kankakee. I don’t know whether you knew them or not, Kenny Regnier—owns General Color and Equipment?

Interviewer Megan: I know a Linda Regnier.

Duane: That’s my sister.

Interviewer Megan: That’s your sister?


Russell: There’s probably more than one Linda Regnier.

Interviewer Megan: Does she work in the hospital?

Duane: No, no, no.

Junetta: She does volunteer work at Heritage House by Provena St. Mary’s.

Interviewer Megan: I might know her then.

Duane: They own, she owns General Color and Equipment. Her husband died.

Ardelle: Suddenly.

Duane: Yeah, very young and it was a traumatic death. They owned General Color and Equipment right there… you know right across the street, from uh...I can’t think of the name of the street from the county treasurer’s office, off East Avenue.

Interviewer Megan: Doesn’t ring a bell.

Duane: East Avenue, right across the viaduct.

Interviewer Megan: Oh right, OK.

Duane: East Avenue, one block, you know where the county building is.

Interviewer Megan: Right.

Duane: Then there right across the street General Color and Equipment.

Interviewer Megan: I’ll have to look next time I go by.

Duane: My sister owns that, and I’ve got my other sister in Houston.

Interviewer Josh: How long has your family been in this area, in this region?

Duane: How long? Well we were all born here. We were all born here although we kinda moved out.

Interviewer Josh: Were your parents from this area?

Duane: Oh yes. My grandfather bought the eighty acres where I was born for $52.50 an acre. Less than $5000 he paid for it.

Junetta: Well now it’s about $3500. For an acre.

Duane: Well we just sold it because my mother passed for almost $4000.

Ardelle: Then--you could buy a loaf of bread for a nickel.

Duane: No, you went to the day-old bread there on Station Street for a nickel.

Interviewer Megan: They still have a store like that.

Duane: Day-old bread.

Interviewer Megan: Out on Kennedy.

Ardelle: But it’s not really day-old it’s fresh bread.

Duane: So what else do you need?

Interviewer Josh: Do you know like how many generations back it was that your ancestors first came to this area, to this region? From Canada?

Duane: Yeah, here you can take this. That’s my great-great-grandpa right up at the top—Leon Bertrand.

Russell: From Canada, about 1850 was it?

Another student interviewer: When you were younger you said well actually, when you got older you farmed normally, that’s a pretty long job I know, but in your spare time what did you guys usually do?

Duane: We didn’t have any spare time. We were raising hogs, livestock. Well I guess in our spare time we concentrated on maybe on having another child. I don’t know.

Junetta: The babies.

Interviewer Josh: Is this something you want to talk about?

Duane: I’m out on the rail right now, I can see that. What was your question?

Another student interviewer: When you were younger, did you have any hobbies?

Duane: When I was a boy.

Junetta: He flew a kite.

Duane: All we did was work and I had my bicycle.

Junetta: You built kites.

Duane:I built kites. And made kites out of ironweed. I don’t know if you know what an ironweed is, but it used to grow fluently in the fencerows and its kind of a hollow thing and it would make a hell of a nice brace for a kite and I’d take newspaper and of course string, take a knife and make your, put your string around it and I’d use newspaper with water and flower to make my paste and then some more string.

Ardelle: How long did it stay together?

Duane: It would fly forever.

Ardelle: It really would?

Duane:Yes I’d take it to school and I’d fly it early in the morning when I was in grade school and it would still be flying at noon cuz I could watch it out the window, ya know.

Russell: Tied it to a fence posts.

Duane: Tie it to a fence post.

Ardelle: They were doing that instead of keeping……

Interviewer Megan: Starting fires.

Duane:Then I got innovative and they use to sell cheese in a wooden box. So I’d drill a whole in both ends and I’d put a shaft through there and got me a piece of number nine wire and I’d made a crank on it and I’d wire up, roll up my string on that. Man I was, I was home free. But my kites would fly and fly and fly. I use to go out in the pasture and just watch the clouds go by and lay there and watch my kite fly.

Junetta: Now you’re lucky if you can get em to stay up.

Duane: And if the cows out in the pasture started getting close to my kite why I would run and make the kite kinda drop down on the cows and scare the hell out of them and whooom they’d go (laughter)…with their tailss up in the air away they’d go. Ya know we didn’t have anything else to play with.

Interviewer Megan: Sure.

Duane: A corn cob and a couple of chicken feathers ya know. You’d throw it and see how far you could throw it. Use to go up in the barn and catch pigeon squabs…you know baby pigeons that hadn’t flown yet and tame em’, and put em’ in a pen and feed em’, of course. And they would come and sit on your shoulder and they’d walk with you if you were out in the yard…pigeons.

Interviewer Megan: Mhm.

Junetta: And then your mother decided they needed….

Duane: And they’d kinda dood on your shoulder too once in a while. Yeah, that’s what we use to do. We didn’t have anything else to play with.

(Interviewer 0Jason: You didn’t? What was your closest neighbor--did you have guys have many like…people you go visit?

Duane: Well. We had no telephone. We had no telephone.

Ardelle: Sometimes across the road.

Duane: But they were our neighbors was, the closest was a quarter of a mile. North of us the other one was a half a mile south. We had no telephone.

Ardelle: We just had a radio.

Duane:We were lucky we had thirty-two volt power in our house we had a Delco plant. Nobody else had electricity in the area that I know of but us. And we had a Delco plant that I don’t know how many batteries or what batteries, and so dad would have to go and charge the battery about once a week. We had this damn thing that would sit there in the basement and just make all kinds of noise, but uh you charged the batteries and so we had electricity in our barn, the crib, and in the house.

Ardelle: Most people were going by lamp light then.

Duane: It wasn’t a hundred ten it was only thirty two volts.

Junetta: We had a Delco plant.

Ardelle: Oh yeah we did too but no, lots, most people just had lamps we’d go to our cousins house, yeah, it was a lamp and you got your studying done early so you didn’t have to study by lamp light and carry that lamp upstairs ya know to go to bed.

Russell: Like old people.

Ardelle: We didn’t have it. We were lucky.

Interviewer Megan: Did religion play a big part of your life?

Duane: Pardon?

Interviewer Megan: Did religion play a big part of your life?

Duane: Oh, very much so, very much so.

Interviewer Megan: How so?

Duane: Hand me that book.

Junetta: Is that your bible?

Duane: This is the parish history of the, history of, all of the, well it says here, Saints Peter and Pauls, Pilot, Saint James, Irwin, and Sacred Heart, Goodrich. Okay now we belong to the Sacred Heart Church of Goodrich cuz we only lived about two miles from it. And this was the Father Meyer that was the author of this book. And he, I don’t know how many people of you are Catholic?

Interviewer Josh: I am?

Duane: Huh

Interviewer Josh: I am.

Duane: Okay. But back then…back when I was young, on Sunday morning if you decided that you wanted to go to communion, you didn’t do anything after midnight on Saturday night.

Ardelle: You didn’t eat anything.

Duane: You didn’t eat, you didn’t drink, you didn’t chew gum, you didn’t do anything.

Ardelle: You fasted.

Duane: And so then we go to church at nine o’clock in the morning. Now, we got chores to do. So we’d get up at 5:30, 6:00 o’ clock in the morning, milk all the cows, do all the chores. Get ready to go to church. And it’d last til noon. (Laughter from all) Cause Father Meyer decided it’d last til noon. Now you come home, I’ll tell you what; your stomach thinks your throat’s cut. (Laughter from all) And that’s the way, that’s the way it was, back in those days. That’s just the way it was. And, you know, you left your chewing gum on the bedpost.

Interviewer Josh: You reused it?

Duane: Pardon?

Interviewer Josh: You reused it?

Duane: Oh yeah. Oh we always reused it. Oh hell you never threw your chewing gum away. Hell I’ve chewed wax, just for chewing gum because we didn’t have any money for chewing gum.

Ardelle: Another thing I think you want to tell them was when Christmas time came you were lucky if you got one or two things. Today, they, kids get dozens and dozens of things and at their birthday parties they get dozens of things. They get more toys then we ever say, nearly in our whole lifetime, a dozen of us. Ya know?

Interviewer Megan: So what were types of things that you’d get for Christmas?

Ardelle: Oh probably the usual.

Duane: I don’t remember what I got for Christmas, I don’t remember.

Interviewer Megan: Not one sticks out in your mind?

Duane: Pardon?

Interviewer Megan: Not one sticks out in your mind?

Duane: Nah…No.

Russell: Lump of coal, probably that’s all he got for Christmas.

Duane: I remember one time that…haha..I don’t even know why I remember this, but…

Interviewer Jason: This ought to be good.

Duane: I don’t know how come we got some candy, and of course my brother is seven years younger than I am so I was around with my two oldest sisters. We got some candy, I don’t know how come we got candy, but anyhow we got some. So I’m gonna let my greedy sisters eat their candy and I’m gonna save mine. So I had mine in a box on the shelf and I didn’t touch any of my candy and their tongues are hangin out and I’m just sittin there not eatin my candy. When it came time for me to eat my candy, the ants had taken over it. I had to throw it all away. It was full of ants!!! So that’s what I got for being greedy. (Laughing) There is a lesson to be learned. (Laughing)

Interviewer Megan: Oh my gosh!

Duane: Yep.

Interviewer Megan: That was your payback.

Duane: That was my payback. My sisters had eaten their candy.

Junetta: Did they notice? Did they laugh?.

Duane: No, I wouldn’t even tell them. I had to throw my candy away.

Interviewer Josh: Do you recall eating any foods that were…uh… unique to French-Canadian?

Duane: I didn’t probably personally eat it myself, but there was what they call boudin.. that’s blood sausage. Do you know what that is?

Interviewer Josh: I’ve heard of it.

Duane: And head cheese. And cause that was made from all, the animals you know. They salvaged everything, but the squeal from these animals.

Ardelle: Tongue.

Duane: Tongue.

Ardelle: Teeth, pigs feet, ears.

Duane: Pigs feet, ox-tail oh yeah, yeah. And they processed their ham where they would butcher a pig and make a ham ya know. And they, they cured it in some kind of ham curing stuff. And then they would put it in a barrel in the crib with the grain, mainly wheat and they’d leave it there for I don’t know how long.

Russell: Didn’t they use it to cure cheese in the manure pile too?

(Everyone) Laughing.

Duane: No, I never heard of that.

Russell: Yes sir, they would wrap it up, and…

Duane: No, I never heard of that. No, my mother made cottage cheese.

Russell: No this is the regular cheese

Junetta: My mother had pork in a big, a big, crock.

Ardelle: They’d take bacon and hang it in the crib. And they’d salt.

Russell: And they’d have that straw…and manure...

Duane: No, I never heard of that. There’s not enough French in you for that.

Russell: These weren’t necessarily proud to do it. It was the old timers. Wrap it up and bury it in that manure pile.

Junetta: Oh no!

Russell: Until so long a time…

Duane: Yeah, I’ll tell ya. But we, we worked hard, everything was manual labor, everything, manual labor. We worked hard, there is no doubt about it. Oh we didn’t know any better, well we didn’t have any better life I guess. But uh…..

Ardelle: Sunday’s was always a special thing…

Duane: No cars you know

Ardelle: …we could loaf…sit around the yard in the sun.

Duane: Back when I was, back when I was born, uh in 1929, in November. It was very, very muddy. In fact, it was real muddy you know? And all we had was dirt roads. So a fellow by the name of, a doctor by the name of Dr. Brown,was a family physician; and so my mother was going to give birth to me. And uh, I don’t know how they got ahold of Dr. Brown and tell him that he was needed out at the house.

Junetta: They used a cell phone…(laughter).

(Talking in the background. Unintelligible.)

Duane: My… my grand… my grandmother, my grandmother was there with my, with my mother then. And uh… my dad had to take a team and a wagon and go to the Leheigh Road, which was two miles away, two and a half miles away to meet the doctor, because that was the only hard road that the doctor could get down, bring him to the house and by the time he got there, I was born. So uh… then uh… I guess I gave my mother a lot of problems she… I didn’t uh… according to her; I wouldn’t keep anything in my stomach. Everything that she put down there went right back up. So I became, what do they call that?

Russell: Colicky?

Duane: No.


Duane: But, my fingernails started to turn up, and the doctor says we got to do something otherwise this, this little guy is going to die. So Dr. Brown says, "well" he says "he don’t like anything that’s sweet, so let’s give him something sour." So my mother had…

Ardelle: sour milk.

Duane: …soured the milk

Russell: Oh yeah?


Duane: And put a hole in the nipple…and fed me sour milk and....that’s how I’m here today.

Russell: That explains things....


Duane: Pardon...

Ardelle: That explains a lot.

Duane: No, that's how come I'm here today. My mother gave me sour milk, almost curdled milk, really it is what it was. No, it's nothing but cottage cheese. If it wouldn't have agreed with me, it wouldn't have stayed down. So it kept me from getting the rickets, is what I’m trying to say, the doctors said I was going to get the rickets.

Russell: That was common in the old days.

Duane: Yeah.

Russell: A lot of kids got it…

Duane: And my, my fingernails right now today are very very soft.

Interviewer Megan: Huh.

Duane: Oh yeah, you can take my fingernails and bend them any way you want.

Ardelle: Your kidding?

Duane: No.

Russell: No, sure, you can. Yeah.

(All laughing)

Duane: No, I’m a very tender, tender fella.

Ardelle: Not to confuse the generation, he’s talking about the Bertrands, but when I was born, uh, we had mud roads, and uh, when the doctor came, you remember that story…

Russell: Ho ho ha, he wasn’t with her, he got stuck in the mud.

Ardelle: He got stuck in the mud, and I was a twin, so I was born before the doctor got there, right, and he got there in time for my brother. (laughs)

Junetta: Oh yes you were the first one.

Russell: Yep.

Ardelle: I was. But, umm, most of us were all born at home, most of us were…

Junetta: I think I went to the hospital when Arlene was born, Arlene and Joe.

Ardelle: Yeah I think so with the other two.

Junetta: Because I remember taking Arlene up to see her. In those days, the nuns would let you go up to the maternity ward.

Ardelle: Yeah.

Junetta: And I took the baby up to see her.

(lady) I remember going up there to see Arlene…(unintelligible)

Duane: My, my aunts.Oh no, let’s see. Ok my dad’s…. aunt…[unintelligible—husband, my uncle?] and I’ll never forget that gentleman. He’s a hard working farmer for being thin and worked, raised the finest workhorses you’ve ever seen in your life, but he ate everything with a knife. He never ate with a fork. My uncle, I called him uncle, Uncle Pete. He ate with a knife. He could take peas…everything…he never used a fork. Everything was a knife. He could take peas on a knife and he’d eat peas, he’d eat corn, he’d eat everything with that damm knife. And I was a kid, and I would sit there and watch him eat and I thought my God what is the matter with that guy. Ya know?

(Another student interviewer) Ya ever try it? Ya ever try…

Duane: No, I never tried, I never tried eating everything with a knife, but I’ll tell you what, he was he he, that’s all, that’s what I remembered of him, he just…
Interviewer Megan:Why’d he do that, just…

Duane: Well that’s the, I don’t know why he did it, I never ask him (laughter) cuz he was so much older than I was.

Ardelle: You didn’t question your elders.

Interviewer Megan: Not like today right.

Duane: Then, then, they, they housed my grandmother, that never spoke English, she came to America, she was uh, she was adopted at age four and came to America, and married my great-grandfather. Then of course he passed and she married somebody else. But my aunt, her granddaughter, kept her in her old age. And she would not speak English. That old lady, now, she knew English, I knew she did. But when us kids were young, we’d say…ya know, go talk to poor old grandma. She wouldn’t talk to you. She’d talk French, and French was all she’d talk. I got her picture in… I got her picture in here. No no no no, I’m talking about grandma Jerne.

Ardelle and Junetta: Oh, Jerne.

Duane: I got her picture, I got her picture in here

Ardelle: What about the one that lived down the road from us.

Russell:: Her name was Rose or Rosa.

Duane: Huh

Russell:: Her name Rosa.

Duane: No, no that was…

Russell:, Louis’ wife, right?

Ardelle:: Same family? 

Duane: No no no.

Junetta:: No, that was Alice’s sister.

Ardelle: Oh.

Junetta: Married Louis Jerne, what was her name? Rosa, Rosa.

Duane: Yeah.

Ardelle: She never spoke any English either, did she?

Junetta: No she spoke French.

Duane: I’ll find my grandmother’s picture here in just a minute, my great grandmother, but she was the orneriest old women, she lived to me a hundred and seven years old, ornery!

Interviewer Megan: I got a grandmother that’s a hundred and eight right now. She’s the oldest person in Kankakee county, and she’s still ticking.

Russell: Was she just in the paper?

Interviewer Megan: Yeah, yeah her competition passed away a few years ago.

Russell: What’s her name? (laughter).

Interviewer Megan: Her name is Grace Styck.

Junette: Styck, yeah I seen that in the paper.

Interviewer Megan:, Yeah it was, I think a few years ago, they had her and her competition. Whose like…

Russell: Is she still clear headed?. 

Interviewer Megan: No, no she has no clue. I mean she can still funtion and things, but she has no clue…

Duane: What relation to Les Styck?

Interviewer Megan: Oh they’r not related, but, but I’m related to, my grandpa is Kenneth Styck. So, there’s no relation between the Stycks you know, cuz there’s Leslie Styck that used to live across the street from me in Limestone, but I don’t know…

Russell: What high school is that?

Interviewer Megan: Yeah, well.

Junette: What did you find there?

Interviewer Megan: There’s a guy in Japan who’s a hundred and thirteen. 

Ardelle: Really? How old?

Interviewer Megan: Hundred and thirteen, isn’t that amazing,

Duane: There’s my great grandmother.

Interviewer Megan: She looks like a mean old lady. (laughter) 

Russell: Who is, who is that? What’s her name?

Duane: That’s my

Interviewer Megan: My she looks feisty.

Duane: Well it says here, Mrs Loius Jerne, her name was uh…Julia, Julia Provost

Interviewer Megan:, Oh wow.

Duane: She was a Provost.

Ardelle: Are you related to Judy?

Duane: Humh?

Ardelle: Provost, remember Judy Provost?

Duane: I don’t know who Judy Provost was.

Interviewer Megan: She looks feisty in there, all those names in there…

Russell: Those old photos…the reason people look so odd in them is, they had long exposure time on the cameras. They had racks they set their heads in ("you had to wait so long")

Interviewer Megan: Is that why they’re never smiling? That’s why they’re never smiling! Smiling (haha) I didn’t know there was reasoning behind that.

Russell: Well, look? How hard it is, right now. You can’t smile, well smile, right?

Interviewer Megan: Like St. Germaine, there’s still St. Germaine’s here.

Ardelle: My great grandpa…And grandma, Mary


Interviewer Josh: She couldn’t speak any English at all? She spoke French?

Duane: Oh, she could! She could, she just didn’t want to...The onery old lady, she just wouldn’t. I’m sure if you cussed her out in French and English, she’d know what the hell you were talking about.

Ardelle: How do you pronounce this? Lapres?

Duane: La Pierre..yes. No, she would not, but she lived to be old, old, old.

Interviewer Josh: Did your parents speak French?

Duane: My dad did but, my mother was German.

Junetta: My folks did when they didn’t want us kids know what they were talking about. (laughter) That’s why…I know very few words.

Duane: We had a hired man that, that worked for us, my dad for 20 some odd years. And, uh, eh, uh…when they were out in the barn they kinda talked French to one another. Of course, I didn’t know what they were sayin.

Junetta: (background) ow: And, uh we went to school and didn’t speak French. Both parents talked French, in English…

Duane: But, that was something too, this hired man that came to live with us, his name was Bill Boudreau. I don’t know if you know any of the Boudreau’s , but… who here’s related to the Boudreaus?

Interviewer Josh: I’m a Boudreau.

Duane: Yeah, do you know Bill Boudreau?

Interviewer Josh: No.

Duane: Old Boudreau.

Interviewer Josh: There’s kinda like a split in the family.

Duane: Wait...yer, yer, yer (you are)… Wayne’s family?

Interviewer Josh: Mmm…Hmmm…Yeah!

Duane: Oh…okay, that a different family.

Ardelle, in background: Actually our home- this one- is in here.

Duane: This guy, Bill Boudreau, when he was a young married man, he had, uh, two sons. And him and his wife didn’t really get along.

Interviewer Megan. in background: So the Goodrich Church, is that on Goodrich Road? Right around here?

Duane: And this is when Shapiro is right now, was the mental hospital . . . she committed him to the mental hospital, she said he was insane. You could do those things in those days. The wife didn’t really like ya, she stuck ya in . . . in the loony bun. She did!

Junetta, in background: But she had to have . . . to have cahoots somewhere.

Duane: He wasn’t, ya know, so he became a . . . he drove this doctor, um uh . . . the name’ll come to me. He drove this doctor around as a chauffeur. Well, he happened to know my grandfather, which only lived right across the river . . . on Station Street, from Shapiro, er from . . . So he walked down there one day . . . so he walked down there and he . . . he knew my grandfather and they got to talkin’, ya know, and he says, ‘Ya know," he says, um, ‘I sure need to get out of this place.’ He says, uh, ‘Can you, um, do you know of any place I could work for room and board?’ And my grandfather says, ‘Well yeah I think my son could use ya in the farm. So for twenty some-odd years he raised my two sisters-my older sisters-and me, ya know, and did the chores, and did everything, and worked faithfully. And he died there, too.

Junetta: Oh, tell the story how he would , uh, answer your dad when he called you.

Duane: Well, no, my…

Junetta: How did that go?

Duane: My dad’s name was Harvey . . . so Bill would get up in the morning- he was always up early to milk the cows and stuff. So my dad was a young man, ya know, so he . . . trying to make kids and all (laughter) . . I don’t know about that. Laughter –You’re not taping all this?!

Ardelle: Yes he is!

Junetta: Oh my gawd!

Duane: Well, anyhow…

Ardelle: You’re gonna hafta cut some of it out.

Duane: Mr. Boudreau would get up and make the furnace fire- get the house warm- and then it was time to go out and milk the cows- they had to milk them by hand, of course. So he’d come to the stairway, y’know, and he’d holler, "Harvey!...Harvey!" And my sister...well she, she kinda figured things out pretty soon. She, she’d go–and she could mimic my dad real good–say, "Yeah?"...So, Boudreau would go out to the barn, and, well, he’d milk all the cows all by himself. Dad was still sleeping, because he hadn’t, he hadn’t heard Bill wake him up.

Anyhow...[mild laughter from others]...Anyhow, uh, he, he was, he was a good ol’ soul. He raised me, and...and, went to his sister’s when [cough makes words inaudible] wasn’t around. He took care of us. And, uh, he was a long ways from crazy, I can tell you that...[inaudible comment] Once a year, Dad would pay him...I don’t know how much he paid. Uh, Bill would say "Well Harvey, it’s time to settle up." So Dad would pay him some kind of money, usually before Christmas. He would go to town. He had a Model T Ford that he drove to town. He’d go to town, I think it was the only time of the year he drove the damn thing, and but he would crank it up and head for town. And he’d spend the day in town. He’d always come home with a commode.

Junetta: A new pot.

Ardelle: Always?

Duane: Full of fruit: oranges and apples and bananas.

Ardelle: Why would he bring that home? Why would he get that?

Duane: Well because we had an outhouse. On a farm in the wintertime, you could go, you could go in the commode in a, in a house.

Ardelle: Oh. I see what you are saying. Just a regular… (Laughs)

Duane: So he brought us one every year, brand new one every year filled with fruit and it was my job to empty that damn thing every morning when I was a kid.

(Women) Groans then laughter

Interviewer Megan: That’s not an easy job to have, it’s always tipping.

Duane: There is one thing you learn really fast…

Ardelle: You don’t walk fast?

Duane: …if the wind is blowing from the west, you don’t throw it to the west. (Laughs) No, You didn’t, you didn’t. You walked to the west and threw it back to the east.

Ardelle: Or now that’s…

Duane: You’ll probably learn that your first time you ever took it out. And that was my job for years: empty the damn commode in the morning, and everybody used it all night long.

Interviewer Megan: Oh God!

Duane: It was half full!

Ardelle: I knew he could tell dirty stories as a boy.

Junetta: How far did you have to walk?

Duane: We walked out to the…to the…

Junetta: The garden?

Duane: No, no…we walked out to the cow pasture there and threw it out there, you know, and…

Ardelle: Always?

Duane: Boy, you learn that fast though, you didn’t throw it against the wind…

Interviewer Megan: So are there parts of your French-Canadian heritage that are still present then, that you still, like any traditions? You still practice or anything?

Duane: I don’t think so. There is nothing that we do, do we?

Ardelle: It’s the same as anybody else, the same you know. Christmas, uh, you know.

Junetta: Well I know that you like fiddlers.

Duane: Well yeah, but I don’t know whether that’s French-Canadian. But, I mean boudin, and, and, uh, you know, I haven’t eaten any fiddlers in a while.

Ardelle: She’s talking about, like tradition though cus’, kids would do at Christmas time or like Easter.

Junetta: But I couldn’t think what.

Interviewer Megan: Oh, anything could be considered a tradition.

Duane: No, I don’t think so.

Ardelle: I have a daughter that is trying to start traditions, her own little traditional things.

Duane: Well, that’s kinda the story of my life, let my wife tell you her’s now.

Junetta: Oh come on.

Duane: Well, that’s the story of my life, now let my wife tell you hers now—the Denault family.

Junetta: Oh come on… do you believe…?

Duane: The Denault family. I can tell you a lot about her.

Ardelle: Laughs

Interviewer Jason: What was the last name?

Ardelle: Denault

Interviewer Jason: My grandpa’s last name was Denault, how do you spell that?

Duane: Huh?

Ardelle: D-E-N-A-U-L-T

Russell: Who was your grandpa?

Interviwer Jason: Raymond.

Junetta: Ray Denault?

Interviewer Jason: Yeah.

Duane: What?

Junetta: and Norma Brinkman?

Interviewer Jason: Yeah, Grandma Brinkman.

Duane: Well, we’re related!

(General Laughter)

Russell: Ray and these guys, yeah they were second cousins.

Duane: So interview him for a while (pointing at Jason).

Interviewer Jason: I didn’t hear you say Denault.

Ardelle: We were concentration on Bertrand so far.

Duane: Well, She’s the oldest of eleven, living…

Interviewer Jason: How are you, how are we related, how do you…Ray?

Junetta: Ray’s dad was Alfred and Roselyn and my great grandfather and your great-grandfather were brothers. Yeah, we’re distantly related.

Russell: There’s some of your ancestors, Uncle Toussant and his kids.

Junetta: Yeah, that’s my great-grandfather.

Russell: Your grandpa that just died here a while back? Alfred? Fred?

Junetta: Yeah.

Russell: That’s his dad. (undecipherable mumbling). Turn that thing around.

(Cameraman) Turn this way?

Russell: Yeah, that’s Ray’s dad, right there, that’s (undecipherable mumbling).

Duane: His grandfather, you‘re saying.

Russell: Raymond‘s his grandpa.

Duane: Yeah.

Russell: And that guy I’m looking at there is probably Raymond’s grandfather, and this is the father of his, so I don’t know how many generations that is.

Duane: Well, you said somebody just died.

Russell: Yeah, ol’ Fred just died, well, I don’t know how long ago, a couple years ago or so. Fred, that’s Jerome’s dad.

Ardelle: Yeah, Aunt Rita’s dad

Junetta: And Delores’dad. Geraldine’s dad.

Duane: Well, he’s been dead for a long time. Fred’s been dead for a long, long time.

Junetta: Alfred has.

Russell: I’m sorry, I’ve been thinking of Noel.

Interviewer Jason: I had a nickname for him, I forgot what it was, cause that’s what we always called him.

Junetta:: Married to Rosalee. Fred and Rosalee.

Interviewer Jason: I actually don’t know his real name, cause my grandpa always called him by, he had a nickname for him.

Russell: For who?

Interviewer Jason:: For uh, his dad

Russell: Fred, they called him, well, you see, it’s right there.

Duane: Okay Vernon, Vernon’s your uncle.

Junetta: Where? Where do you see it?

Duane: The one that got burnt. In the fire. Alright. That’s his brother, and that’s Raymond. Right, right, that’s Raymond’s brother. Vernon’s the one that got burnt real bad in the fire and they lost their little girl in the fire. Oh yeah, they lost the baby.

Russell: That would be…

Duane: And Fred, Fred, uh, your grandfather, he hunted for months through those ashes because it was burnt to the ground, but he’d go out there, we’d see him at night, hunting, for at least a bone of that little girl.

Russell: Never found a thing.

Duane: That was in the fire, yeah, I farmed that farm, I farmed that farm.

Interviewer Megan: That’s sad!

Russell: That was your great grandfather, not these two here?

Duane: Yeah we were in high school when that fire happened.

Interviewer Megan: That’s so sad!

Duane: And Vernon, Vernon wouldn’t jump out of the house, and he got, do you know his uncle?

Interviewer Megan: No, I don’t.

Duane: Well, he’s very disfigured.

Russell: He’s a great bowler

Duane: But he’s an ace bowler, but he’s very disfigured because he would not jump and they kept telling him "jump, jump, jump" you know "we’ll catch you", but he would not jump until he was really burning. And, uh, he’s quite disfigured.

Russell: He looks pretty good for a burn victim.

Duane: One of his sons runs a bowling alley in Kankakee, the one on Station Street.

Interviewer Jason: I don’t know if they still do, they did, uh…

Duane: As far as I know they did.

Interviewer Jason: They might have but I’m not sure.

Duane: But he is an ace bowler too.

Interviewer Jason: Yeah, they’re all pretty good. Their son’s good, Dustin.

Duane: But he got very very disfigured in the fire.

Russell: He’s still better lookin’ than I was.

Duane: Well, hell everybody is (laughter)

Russell: She said she doesn’t know what end to talk to…It appears all of your ancestors go back to 1620.

Ardelle: They’re telling them, Russ, our Family, starts with Toussant, and let them know, our family…

Russell: You tell them.

Ardelle: Honey, you know better than I do.

Duane: She just called you honey

Russell: Is that right? She probably wants some money or something. Are you done with Duane there?

Duane: I’ve said all I’m going to say unless you want to hear a couple of stories, but otherwise I’m not going to tell them.

Interviewer Megan: On the record!

Interviewer Josh: Pull the plug, yeah.

Russell: Let’s see the big picture about Toussant, You guys have got a picture there, uh, but this guy here, ol’ Toussant, and (undistiguishable), they came down from Canada, and that’s uh, there was I think six brothers. There’s another picture in here of Louis, his brother Louis, he settled over in Indiana. Well, he was here for a while but he also went to Indiana and uh, so throughout the U.S., there’s about six brothers that came here about that same time, in the middle of the last century (1800’s) and all the Denaults in the U.S. are related, no matter how you spell it, they are related. There are many, many, ways of spelling it.

Ardelle: 4 or 5 different ways.

Russell: Somebody had a book, she said 50.

Ardelle: Oh really? Oh, mercy!

Russell: Nonetheless, I think it was the census takers because, years ago, 150 years ago they’d come around and take the census there wasn’t that much paperwork, they were just counting noses and they’d say "what’s your name?" and "I’m Denault" and they’d say "How do you spell that you?", and they’d spell it…you know. People were not literate, so they would spell it how it sounded and that is how all these names.

(door slam)

Duane: Man, what was that, that cat.


Russell: Well anyway…(laughs) Hey you didn’t offer it.

Ardelle: He just said a French word.

Duane: Yeah, they can have it. (laughs) Just take it home with you.

Russell: But these people right here are the ancestors of an awful lot of people in this area. This lady here is of course the sister to this guy here. When we lived over in Herscher, Shelby, my oldest daughter had a real close friend, and oh, they were just inseparable. And one day we found out that they were third cousins because this is their great grandparents.

Ardelle: And they never knew all the time.

Russell: And oh, they never knew it all the time. And they were just wild when they were in that, but these people have an awful lot of descendants in this area. I think this one here is about the only one that moved away. He went up to Minnesota and married up there.

Junetta: And that was Aunt Zilda.

Russell: Zilda, Zilda; I never did get the straight of her name.

Ardelle: And now that you give the names of that, she was Toussant and Amelia.

Russell: Yeah.

Ardelle: Ok. We got, we did say that, so.

Russell: The only mystery in the…Denault tribe remains. Well first of all, usually each of ‘em would have a French name, you know, the names were either French or awful close to it. But, this guy’s great granddaughter over in Indianapolis, it was this guy’s brother’s descent. It’s come up with and found a Nelson Denault. I found that grave of a Nelson Denault, in Mound Grove, and there’s another one here, somewhere. I never seen his grave, but I seen his records. We cannot tie those Nelson Denault’s and the family, don’t know how their related, and besides that where did they get the name Nelson? I mean, once it’s on the tombstone, you can assume it’s not a nick-name. That’s your name.

Ardelle: And it’s not just a French name.

Russell: We, we, just can never figure out the mystery of, of who in the heck is Nelson, who is Nelson Denault name? Nelson, Nelson, yeah, so I guess in here there isn’t any unusual stories. One thing that I have seen that as you look at this, it often times when you try to think one of your kids might look like an ancestor. It doesn’t always work that way. If you look off to the left here rather than to the right. Now this guy here is the spittin’ image of Charlie Denault. That’s Art Denault’s picture here. Alex is Charlie’s grandfather but that’s who Charlie looks like it—is Alex’s younger brother. Don’t that look like Charlie? And the same thing here with this woman. She has got her brother’s granddaughters, one of them, looks very very similar to her.

Ardelle: How about giving him a view of some of those ancestors that go way back.

Russell: That’s Lambert’s, that’s Lambert’s.

Ardelle: That’s just Lambert’s? It’s not Denault’s? You don’t have an Denault’s?

Russell: There’s no Denault’s.

Ardelle: Aren’t some of them Denault’s? Or is that the latest, the oldest.

Russell: That’s as far back as it, Denault’s, go.

Ardelle: Most of them.

Russell: Of, they want something on the Lambert’s that’s another question.

Ardelle: That’s my mother’s side.

Russell: That’s….

Ardelle: My mother’s side.

Russell: They’r real frogs and, and…

Ardelle: That’s further than we wanted to go, I think.

Russell: Do I don’t know if we want, you know.

Ardelle: He has some really old, old, pictures. Go about 13 generations back on .

Russell: Not that old)

Ardelle:13 times 50 years.

Russell: Actually, it’d probably be about 9 or 10.

Ardelle: I thought you said 13. If they’d like to look at them.

Russell: Well they’re welcome to, but mean they are running to show here. It’s kind of what they would like next, you know.

Interviewer Josh: This is kind of off the previous topic but I noticed on the cover of this book.

Russell: This here?

Interviewer Josh: Yeah it says there is a church in Pilot.

Duane: Yeah.

Junetta: Yeah.

Duane: Yeah.

Interviewer Josh: That isn’t standing any more is it?

Duane: No, no, no, no, that’s been gone. That was right---

Ardelle: 3 years now.

Russell: Herscher Road

Duane: Uh the Herscher Road Uh 1 mile south on the right hand corner. Do you know where that were the Herscher--where the cemetery is on that road.

Interviewer Josh: One mile south of Herscher?

Junetta: It was right there.

Duane: One mile south of 17 on Herscher road.

Ardelle: That is were that church was.

Duane: Uh that church the old German church was there.

Russell: On the northwest corner of intersection.

Interviewer Josh: O.K.

Duane: And, and uh then part of that church was moved to Goodrich and other part was moved to Irwin. Don’t ask me what year.

Interviewer Josh: Oh, OK.

Duane: And, and the Irwin church used to be in Lehigh.

Interviewer Josh: Uh hu.

Duane: Then it moved to Irwin and back then, you know, you had your German church and your French church and your Irish church and they did not inter marry amongst, you know, they just didn’t. I mean it was pretty you were almost outcast in the family if you married outside of your ethnic group. And of course my dad, he was a Frenchman who married a German. Why I well, never heard too much repercussions about that, but things were getting a little bit better than I think at that time. But no they were they were very, very clannish and it was the French the Germans and the Irish…

Ardelle: And you married within your faith too?

Duane: You married within your faith and within your nationality. That was it.

Ardelle: Like it was taboo.

Russell: What was that church that sat across the road from Frank Penski that they moved? Didn’t they move that to Irwin?

Duane: That was, that was the Lehigh church. That was St James.

Russell: That was moved to Irwin right?

Junetta: The rectory was moved to Irwin.

Russell: That was moved to Irwin.

Duane: Yeah.

Russell: Well then that cemetery out there by Herscher, down the Lehigh road off, how far?

Duane: One mile, one mile north.

Russell: And then, and then only how far, a couple miles west?

Duane: A mile, right? A mile west.

Russell: It’s only a mile west too.

Duane: 3000 mile west.

Russell: There was a cemetery that sat there. In my time up here, I came up here in ‘46, and in a few years after that the only thing that was left there, or any signs of it was a few old pickups, in that corner was a hog lot, hog sheds, and tombstones laying against the fence, old sandstone tombstones. Well there had been a church and a cemetery in there and whatever was moved over to Irwin long time ago. And many, and now here’s where we disagree but have found what looks to me like, I can’t ironclad prove it, from the records that I’ve seen and the bodies that were removed from that cemetery and taken to Irwin cemetery and in here, I can’t remember its been so many years since I’ve read this, but, in here were many many names of people that were buried there and somewhere between some records I have found that was, that I have cross checked there has to be names just listed in this book that are still here laying in that corn field that were never disinterred and moved anywhere, but slowly, now he doesn’t agree with me on that, and I can’t prove it.

Ardelle: I have heard too at one time that they were removed.

Russell: Some that they didn’t remove, and as time went on nobody cared I suppose, but I can remember when, see I think old Frank eventually just kinda threw them stones against the fence an then farmed, I don’t know, I don’t know, see they were supposed to be all done with it and if there was no family to claim.

Duane: Well, it’s all farmed over now.

Russell: Oh boy. Its history now but I can remember that.

Duane: He never ever farmed it, Frank didn’t then, but he did have hogs around it, I do know that.

Russell: Yep, it was in the church area.

Duane: It was in the cemetery.

Russell: Yeah, and I firmly believe.

Duane: It was across the road from where he lived.

Russell: 40 years ago when I was reading over this book and going through this stuff I was pretty, couldn’t tell you today who they were, but there were names listed in there as far as was concerned that laying in that corn field or old bean field or whatever. . . That wouldn’t be anything unusual in human history I’m sure. If we could turn the clock back I’m sure there is probably someone buried out here in this field too 1500 years ago.

Duane: Yeah, my dog.


Russell: And eventually that cat.

Duane: That cat’s going to be buried out there too.

Interviewer Josh: So, we’re curious if they were French, German or Irish, or did they live together? Would there be French, German or Irish friends?

Ardelle: We went to school together Irishmen and Frenchmen mostly where we went to school in Irwin. A convent is where we went to school.

Russell: In later years up I didn’t notice it until afterwards I guess, they fought along the Lehigh road.

Ardelle: Somewhat, not a lot.

Russell: But one side it was the Italians, and this was like 50, 55 years ago when we moved up here. On one side was the Italians and to the west side was the Frenchmen.

Duane: Alright, let her speak, here is the answer to your question right here.

Ardelle: We didn’t fight as much as we think we were planning.

Russell: She transferred to Irwin, I think in ‘45.

Ardelle: The thing I remember the most once one day one Irish girl says "ye kids think ye smart."

Interviewer Megan: How many years did you go to school, did you complete?

Ardelle: Eight years.

Interviewer Megan: Eight years.

Russell: These were are two that what, they were left in there.

Duane: Apparently so.

Russell: Yeah.

Duane: According to that.

Ardelle: And all our kids were in Herscher High school.

Russell: And I was thinking there was more, there again it was 40 years ago.

Duane: To answer your question this is that cemetery that we are talking about in Irwin, right here.

Russell: They was out by old Frank Penski out there back of Lehigh.

Duane: Yeah, no not that, not the picture, first paragraph, I think.

Interviewer Josh: It does say that most of the bodies in the cemetery on the west side of the old church were transferred to the new cemeteries southeast of Irwin.

Duane: Yeah that’s right.

Ardelle: Most of them.

Interviewer Josh: Most.


Russell: And all cemeteries have a lot of unmarked graves.

Interviewer Josh: Yeah.

Duane: Now to answer your other question of where well that’s where the church was. You’ll probably see something in here about it. The thing of it is, back in those days um, your parish priest was the most educated in the community. So you respected him, you know, as being, you know, somebody that knew a hell of a lot more than you did.

Interviewer Megan: Yeah

Duane: And you so, uh, every word that flowed out of his mouth you believed. And uh, there was one time I come out of church and another parishioner came out of church and we had a missionary that really give us the ol’ fire and brimstone. And he says to me, he was Irish, of course he still is, he used to live in the..I sure hope he’s right because if he’s wrong, I’m missing out on a lot of fun. (laughter) Yeah, but it was fire and brimstone back in those days, boy.

Ardelle: Not like today.

Duane: There wasn’t anything that you could do.

Ardelle: There’s no such thing as sin, right?

Duane: I gotta show you this guy if I can find him in here. I want you guys to see him. You’d like to meet him in a blind alley sometime. Or a dark alley? Find his picture.

Russell: Yeah, your grandpa’s been dead for nine years. Alfred’s been dead for nine years.

Junetta: Really? I thought Jeremy’s dad was still alive.

Ardelle: I remember when he was in a nursing home.

Duane: This is my grandfather’s home.

Interviewer Jason: She’s my great-grandmother.

Duane: This house was moved off to another spot on the farm lot and we used it as a workshop and a garage and stuff. But, my grandfather lived in this until he built the new house.

Russell: You didn’t get to know Ed and Myrtle then. Your grandmother.

Interviewer Jason: Right, great-grandma. Ed Raymond and Myrtle.

Russell: Right, you didn’t get to know Ed and Myrtle.

Interviewer Jason: Yeah, Myrtle. Yeah, Myrtle’s still alive.

Russell: Myrtle’s still alive?

Interviewer Jason: Yeah.

Russell: She’s gotta be 95!

Interviewer Jason: She’s…she’s… I don’t know.

Russell: Myrtle Brinkman?

Interviewer Jason: Yeah, she’s still alive. She’s got a house on, uh.. over there by route 50.

Russell: She was a Hess, right?

Interviewer Jason: Yeah.

Russell: I knew old Frank, her dad.

Interviewer Jason: Yeah, Ed died.

Ardelle: Evidently, she’s doing quite well if she’s living in Indiana.

Duane: Well.. I did too, they were our neighbors.

Russell: Wow. Is that right?

Interviewer Jason: Doing well too. Her daughter Carol, she lives with her.

Russell: The only one I knew was your grandma, Norma. How is she doing?

Interviewer Jason: They live in Tennesse.

Russell: Down in the old country, huh?

Interviewer Jason: Norma. They live in Tennessee.

Russell: Out there in the hill country huh?

Interviewer Jason: Yeah Norma they live in uh…

Junetta: He says Indiana… they moved from Indian to Tennessee?

Russell: Well do you see Jerome?

Interviewer Jason: Naw.

Russell: You don’t see Jerome or Deloris?

Interviewer Jason: Just once in a while I’ll see them, but, not very often.

Russell: Yeah, gee wiz I went to school with most of those kids.

Duane: With Bill do you know Bill?

Ardelle: No, I didn’t.

Duane: Tess

Russell: Well I sure did. I worked for him. We lived next store. You know when it was Lehigh there he’d …

Duane: Wait you didn’t work for him.

Ardelle: Yes he did.

Duane: He didn’t work for nobody.

Russell: What?

Duane: He didn’t, He didn’t work a day in his life.

Ardelle: No, he worked for him.

Russell: I worked for Bill

Duane: How’d you work for Bill?

Russell: Well, when he’d uh plant corn and yah know how you’d have to have them stakes on the end down there where you’d…

Duane: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…

Russell: That wire with a knot in it.

Duane: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…

Russell: And uh fertilizer, dumping fertilizers, and oh God.

Ardelle: Yeah.

Duane: Bill, Bill never worked a day in his life.

Russell: I got a whole dollar a day working for him. He’d, He’d go bowling, He’d go bowling before he’d plant corn. So, my goodness how old is Myrtle? She’s got to be…I can’t remember.

Ardelle: I think he said, " About 95"!

Russell: I can remember that guys, boy they could dance! They’d go over to Goodrich and them dances!

Ardelle: Oh yeah, I remember that too!

Russell: Boy they were good dancers! You 're getting old Bertrand.

giggling,murrmering ,& laughter

Ardelle: Ancient.

Duane: Tell me about it. Mother is older than I am. She’s got me by a year.

Russell: You can go to the library and you got the date of death you can get it off the internet now.

multiple voices

Interviewer Josh: To kinda like rap the interview up. Do you think that there is like one particular aspect of hum, one particular lasting aspect of French-Canadian heritage that still survives today in this area and that hasn’t or that...

Russell: Yes there is one physical that thing yet there's very very few of, and this going to sound silly, but it used to be several years ago you could spot anybody, any of them not a lot, not most of them, that were French because, they have a little bit of flip speech like, they had a few words like " I go town aye!

Duane: Yes, "throw the cow over the fence hay."

Russell: Yeah, and "turn the corner around."

(everbody laughing at one time) Ha, ha !!!!

Duane: And that's the way they'd talk, and there's some of them still talk that way today.

Russell: One of them here will still do that. One time I caught her, I asking her for directions to her sisters house because they had moved and we hadn't been there yet. I said wait a minute, how do we get to their place from here, ya know. She told me to go here and we turned right, and go down there and cross this to go down the road ahead....

(everyone laughs) ha, ha!!!!

Russell:..... And I was on the floor and she knows what she did to me, but now once in a while I can catch an older person with a little bit of that, yet. I betcha he's French, and they usually are. You can tell it, still a little bit of that left. 50 years ago…

Ardelle: Cleveland used to say ham and eggs and what else…

Interviewer Megan: Oh my gosh.

Duane: Would ya like to meet him in a dark alley?

Interviewer Megan: I’d run the other way.

Duane: Pass that around.

Interviewer Megan: I’d run the other way.

Ardelle: Oh my gosh.

Russell: That was old George’s granddad.

Duane: Matthais Floaty. How’d ya like to meet him in a dark alley?

Interviewer Megan: I’d run the other way.

(everyone laughs)

Ardelle: Me too.

Interviewer Megan: Look at him.

(everyone laughs)

Russell: I don’t know if there is any old French residents in these parts, is there?

(everyone laughs)

Ardelle: There’s his picture, name and all there.

Russell: I think that would be old Bob Coy’s ancestors.

Duane: Yes I’m sure it is…Bertrand.

Junetta: And I’m his wife June.

Duane: Junetta Denault.

Junetta: I like June better.

Duane: And what do you want? I was born in 1929, she ‘28.

Junetta: And I didn’t rob the cradle.

Russell: – So your going to speak for us?

Ardelle: Oh we are? I’m Ardelle…Denault Ommen. This is my husband Russell Ommen.

Interviewer Josh: Talk about the relation.

Ardelle: Uh,…. I’m …..Uh…June’s sister. Junetta’s sister. Uh… my parents were Eugene and Prudella Denault.

Interviewer Josh: What year were you born?

Ardelle: I was born… oh you guys.

Russell: May 26, 1933 (interrupting Ardelle) Well, that was a long time ago wasn’t it?

Ardelle: What else you want?

Interviewer Jason: I think that’s pretty it.

Interviewer Megan: Yep.

Interviewer Jason: Ok, thank you guys very much for this. It’s been very interesting

Junetta: When can we see all this?

Duane: How do we get to it?

Ardelle: How much are you going to cut out?

Interviewer Megan: Well, what Dr. Paul’s going to do. He’s going to transcribe it. He’s going to have it what you guys said. He is going to have it in letter form. And what happens is this semester this is what our project is to interview you and next semester their project will be to put it together so it might take a while buy eventually he’ll, Dr. Paul will contact you and let you know when it is available definitely.

Duane: So what’s the www. Website number?

Interviewer Megan: Um, I’m not sure definitely. OH!! Definitely!. We’ll send you a letter and Dr. Paul will contact you and let you know what’s done and ya, so I’ll ask Dr. Paul and he’ll call you and I think next semester their project will be to put be to put this together will the website is what their project will be. So that’s what happened the last time we did this so I think that’s what will happen.

Interviewer Jason: And now we are going to say Good-bye.