French Canadian Interview Project

The following interview with Lenore (Duby) Pallissard was conducted on November 22, 2000 at her home in rural Bourbonnais Township, Illinois.  The Western Civilization course student interviewer was Corey Hanson.

The video tape and audiotape that correlate with this transcript are available in the Kankakee Community College Learning Resource Center. The videotape #V-RH 13 is on reserve.  The audiotape HIST INT #1 can be checked out of the LRC for one week. 

Cory: Hi, I am Corey Hanson. Today is November 22, 2000, and this is Lenore Pallissard. We are going to be interviewing her today, in an attempt to remember our French-Canadian descendants.

Corey: Okay, Lenore, why did your family come to this area?

Lenore: Well, to begin with they all came from France. My father's ancestors, the Dubys, and they came from Chanel, France. And my mother's ancestors, the Boudreau's came from Normandy, France. And they settled in Acadia, but there were so many problems. The British was causing so many conflicts and wars. So in 1755, they went into Canada, Acadia then, but now is Nova Scotia. The conflicts are told in the book Evangeline. Then in 1755, they went into Canada, some of the Dubys stayed in St. John for a while and others went into Quebec Province. Some of the Dubys that went into St. John came later into the United States in Madawaski, Maine.

By the way, in 1997, they had a nation-wide Duby family reunion--4,000 Duby's attended the reunion. It was a 3-day affair, Friday it was registration day, Saturday, was a banquet, then a talent show and a dance. On Sunday for noon, it was mass at church that was all in French, in the afternoon, a big parade. Sunday evening it was a play "Evangeline".

Corey: Do you know any French?

Lenore: A little bit, I wish I had kept it up.

Corey: Could you speak some French?

Lenore: Parlais vous Francais?. That is, do you talk, French? En pou. A little bit.

Some of my ancestors went into Quebec Province. In 1851--with Father Chiniquy my Duby ancestors and the Boudreau ancestors came by way of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes to Fort Dearborn, now Chicago.

Corey: Why did your ancestors leave Chicago to come to this area, do you know?

Lenore: Well, that was the path to take. From Fort Dearborn they bought covered wagons, and oxen, and traveled to Bourbonnais Grove, stayed there one year, and the following year they followed Chiniquy to St. Anne. Their both great grandfathers each bought 40 acres of land north of St. Anne, for a dollar an acre. Then build houses of wood made from the big woods east of St. Anne.

Corey: Are there any traditions that your family has had since they first arrived in this area?

Lenore: Well, they were very religious. They went to church every Sunday.

Corey: Is there any memorabilia that has been passed down through your family that has some history to it?

Lenore: My grandfather and grandmother's marriage certificate, from 1864, has been handed down. When they married they bought a farm of 80 acres south of St. Anne. My grandfather Duby married Eloise Paraday. They bought 80 acres southwest of St. Anne.

Corey: Can you tell us a little more about this trunk?

Lenore: Well, this trunk is from Pallissard side. I will tell about Pallissard side later on. But this came from France. They stored clothes or whatever to bring, that's been handed down, so after I'm gone it will go to one of my sons.

Corey: What are some of the hardships your family faced when they first arrived here?

Lenore: Well, I'm sure it was quite a few. Because of the covered wagons you know, when they first went to St. Anne, and they first got there even before they built any houses, it was like living in tents, then it was log cabins, and it was carry water from the creek.

Corey: How many siblings do you have?

Lenore: I have five, and three stepchildren. My Dad's family there were six: [Lenore mentions their names] My father, he was the youngest one. He was nine years old when his mother died.

Corey: Where did they live?

Lenore: They lived on a farm. After my uncle, Helair, he was the oldest. After he married, and did the farming, then my grandfather moved back to St. Anne. In later years, he married Lea Bouchard. She had lost her husband a few years before. My father and mother married, my dad, bought a farm, 80 acres next to where he was raised.

Corey: So they could all stay in the same area?

Lenore: Yes, west of St. Anne.

Corey: Do you have any memories from your childhood? Of your grandparents telling you stories about them growing up or things they faced or whatever you can tell us?

Lenore: Not so much, when grandpa Duby, after his second wife died, then in the summer time he came to live with us on the farm. In the winter, he lived with his oldest son, Helair, because they had a furnace in the house. We just had stove they called it a parlor furnace in the dining room. So our house would be colder in wintertime, so he lived with us in the summer and he would tell about when he was a little boy in Canada. He was nine years old when they came. He told of playing on the big rocks in Quebec Province. Grandpa Boudreau would tell about coming on the boat, and he said he would look out in them little portholes and all he would see was water everywhere he looked.

Corey: I know when we were talking last week when we were here you had mentioned some prices of things that you had seen when you were growing up compared to prices of things today. Do you remember some of those that you could share with us?

Lenore: Yes, yes, everything, everything then was cheap. Cheaper but then it was expensive too. But that was during the depression. Eggs were 12 cents a dozen. Bread 10 cents a loaf or three loaves for a quarter. Gas 18 cents a gallon. Then it was model-T Fords. I have a picture of the school. That is where my Dad went to school and us children we were seven children my mother and father, Blanche, Chester, Edgar, Melvin, Donald, and me. My dad went to that school and then my older brother and sister went to school, too. They talked French! My sister couldn't talk English, so then my parents started talking English. After we could all talk English, then they went back to talking French and we would answer in English.

In 1917, another school, a stucco school was built. This school was so old, a neighbor William Hebert bought it and moved it to the Spinard farm and used it for a house for his hired man. All the eight years that I went to that little one room country school, called the Pallissard School, because Edward Pallissard had donated the land and had built the school. All my eight years, we were just two in my grade, my neighbor boy, Elmer, and I.

Corey: Oh! Wow!

Lenore: To take our eighth grade final exams, we had to go to St. Anne School, to take it with those kids. Our Baccalaureate service was held at the Presbyterian Church. We really didn't have any graduation exercises, just two. We just walked to school and picked up our diploma. There's the eighth grade diploma.

Corey: What are some of your earliest fondest childhood memories from growing up, not necessarily school related, but things with your family?

Lenore: I don't know, we all were a happy family. In the wintertime, my dad would pop popcorn in the potbelly stove. Of course sometimes there would be a couple of little burnt kernels, but that was good. On Sunday evening we would sit around and all take turns reading a verse in the Bible. Then my sister would play the piano and we would sing. We had a happy childhood. My first year of high school I rode a horse to school three and one-half miles to school and put the horse in a barn across the road from the high school. My dad paid a dollar for the horse there for the whole school year. The high school was just the top floor of the grade school.

Our sewing classroom was in the basement behind the girl's restroom. We had to go through the girl's restroom to get to our sewing class. The sewing machines were the treadle, run with your feet. Then the new high school was being built, so the next year it was not really complete but completed enough that we could go to school there. That time we had a nice sewing room with electric sewing machines and the cooking classroom had electric stoves. When the school would have the basketball tournaments our cooking class would have the lunch. We would bake pies, fry hamburger, cook hot dogs, have coffee so if somebody wanted to snack on something that come into the cooking classroom and have their lunch.

Corey: I know you said before as far as growing up as a child you remember your dad being the first ever to have a radio.

Lenore: Yes.

Corey: Can you remember the neighbors coming over? Can you tell us a little more about that?

Lenore: The neighbors would come over on Saturday night and all listen to the WLS barn dance. Mom would pop a big dish pan full of popcorn, so we would eat popcorn and sit around in the dining room, listening to the radio. That was really something.

Corey: When you were growing up in high school, what did you and your friends do for fun and entertainment?

Lenore: Well, I don't know. Sometimes we would have class parties. We would go stay overnight at a girlfriend's house and then she would come out to the farm and stay overnight there. The biggest thing was our senior class trip. Can you guess where it was? Where we went on our class trip? 

Corey: I remember you telling me Rock Creek.

Lenore: Yes, Rock Creek. Yeah, some of the boys, they used their dad's Model T Fords and all 36 of us would pile into different Model T Fords and come to Rock Creek. Then 102 was 113 north and the road was just a cement slab in the middle of the road. When you met a car, both cars had to share the road, get off on each side and then after you met then get back in the center of the road. At Rock Creek we just walked along the creek. It was really scenic and walked to the falls, and we had brought a sack lunch, but then there was a little stand that sold candy bars and pop. So we had pop with our sack lunch. That was the big thing. Now kids even in the eighth grade go to Washington, D.C., or some big trips.

Corey: What do you think are the most beneficial changes that you have seen in your life from back when you were a child until now?

Lenore: I think probably electricity, because even then they had telephones. So I think electricity. Talking about telephones and French, one day my parents were gone to a funeral and it was just us children at home. Well anyway when the phone rang, my older brother Chester answered the phone. It was John Perault. He was talking in French and wanted to talk to my father. So Chester tried to answer in French," gone to a funeral." On the way back to the kitchen he kept repeating it in French. That's Funeral in English, he was repeating that so he would remember. Now, when I think about it, I have to laugh, but then it wasn't funny.

Corey: You said the most beneficial change you've seen is electricity. Are there any changes that you not necessarily think you were better off without, but that you look back to the way some things used to be done and think "oh well, maybe this isn't as good as it seems?"

Lenore: Well electricity is as good as it seems.

Corey: Before you mentioned something about heating?

Lenore: Yes, the heating then that was just the cook stove in the kitchen and a heating stove in the dining room or parlor. Of course it is furnaces, and now it is natural gas so you don't even have to put cobs and coal in the stove.

Corey: Is there a downside to the heaters though as opposed to the stoves?

Lenore: Well then, even in the night my dad would have to get up, and even when Paul and I were married, it was still cook stoves and the heating stove.

Corey: What year were you born in?

Lenore: 1915

Corey: 1915. What year did you get married?

Lenore: 1933

Corey: In 1933.

Lenore: I graduated from high school in 1932. That's our class picture. We were 36, and then I met Paul. There were a lot of wedding dances then, St. Anne, Papineau, Ashkum, and Clifton. Well anyway, one Saturday night, my sister, Esther and I went to a dance in Papineau with my brother, Chester. When anyway Paul Pallisard and his cousin, Elrick was there so they danced with us and asked to take us home. We said yes and the next morning I told my mother, you know Paul Pallisard took me home and I like him, I hope he asks me to go out again.

He did ask me to go out again. And we went out in a Model T Ford, went out on a dollar, the movies, some were fifteen cents but some was twenty-five cents. After we would go to a restaurant, a hamburger was a nickel, coffee a nickel, pie a nickel but if you had ice cream on the pie for pie ala mode that was an extra nickel, but a dollar.

Corey: It just amazes me how much we pay now as opposed to what you paid!

Lenore: Isn't that something. Yeah, we were married in March in 1933. We moved to his cousin, Louie Reno's, 80-acre farm. And it was all farmed with horses. Like when he would finish cultivating our corn he would go cultivating corn for his uncle for 35 cents a day plus his dinner and feed for his horses at noon. In the fall it was husking corn time and that was husking by hand. There was a hook around the palm of the hand that would tear the husks from the ear, break the ear off and from the stalk and throw it into the wagon so after he was through husking our corn he would go husk for neighbors and get paid a nickel a bushel. But he could husk 100 bushels a day. In 1938, we bought a tractor, a Farm All tractor and a plow and a sickle to mow hay, for $700, traded three horses (was allowed $400 for the three horses and then paid $300 in money). So that was quite a change farming with a tractor from the horses.

Corey: When did you and your husband move out here?

Lenore: In 1942, then we moved to his aunt's farm, the Pallissard's Sisters Farm, north of Bourbonnais. Our kids went to Notre Dame Academy and Bradley- Bourbonnais High School. In 1947 or 48, the house burned from defective wiring. Then we lived in a stone house on the Beckman farm, and in a house on the Tallman farm. In 1950 we moved here in the fall in this nice house, farming and they all took turns going into the service.

Bernard was in the Army as a truck driver stationed in Italy, then Wayne was in the Army in heavy artillery. He was in the Korean War. He went through hell there. I would bake cookies and make fudge and pack it and popcorn in coffee cans and mail it to him. He would write back and say that we were surrounded but a plane dropped our packages and we ate every cookie crumb, even every kernel of popcorn. After he came back, Dale went into the Army and he was in heavy artillery, too. As a half-track driver, stationed in Fort Lewis, Washington. When he was discharged, Herbert went in as a truck driver in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. When he came out, Donald went in and he was a cook at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

My son-in-law, Max, was in the infantry in the Army. He went in with Dale. And my brother was in World War II, when he was stationed in France, he was an interpreter. He was wounded in Achen, Germany. There he, when the medics went to get him, he was injured by shrapnel through his back. The ambulance was a jeep with a stretcher laid across the hood.

Corey: Oh! My!

Lenore: And they brought him to the field hospital, then he was sent to the evacuation hospital in Holland, and then later sent in the General Hospital in Belgium. Then later he was flown to the General Hospital in England. In 1945, he was brought to this country, O'Halloran General Hospital, in New York. When he was able to use crutches he was transferred closer to home, to O'Riley General Hospital, Springfield, Missouri, where he had more surgery there. Later he was sent to Wakeland General Convalescence Hospital at Camp Attabury, Indiana, where he was discharged in 1945.

Corey: Now, you mentioned that your husband's great uncle was in the Civil War?

Lenore:  Yeah, yeah, Arman Pallisard, first his father, Paulen Pallisard came from France, Isle/en/Doden, France to Fort Dearborn. He took a train to Kankakee, and then to St.Anne. And bought a farm north of St. Anne and built a house. Then the following year his wife, Sophie Rogers, and six children. Then his children came and settled in St. Anne.

Arman, he was the second to the oldest. Paulen, his dad, and Arman helped form the infantry company of the fifty-three regiment volunteers. In January of 1862, Arman enlisted. Then on October 5th of 1862 he lost his life in battle. And that battlefield in the 1900's was made into a memorial park called Historic Site Battle of Davis Ridge, Apache River. When they were first killed they were wrapped in their army blankets and buried there but after when they were making it into a memorial park then my son Donald and his wife went several times to bring information about Arman and then to help put up a grave marker for him there.

Corey: Where is the park?

Lenore: Tennessee, near Pocahontas, Tennessee. Lois, and her husband, son Marty and I went several times. Each time we went it was more added to it. It's a nice park, it isn't big like Shiloh, or Vicksburg, but it's a nice park. I think it is so nice that the veterans; they gave so much that they're honored and remembered.

Corey: Tell us more about married life?

Lenore: Well, we had a happy fifty-six years together. Paul died August 5, 1989. We had sad moments but we had a lot of glad ones. Times were hard but we didn't think they were hard. We got along; other times we would sell eggs, and sell cream, that would help buy our groceries. And we raised cattle and pigs so we had our own meat. Different than now, now then a dollar, you could go to town with a dollar and come back with a sack full of groceries. Now, twenty dollars and it doesn't even fill one sack.

Corey: Like now a days, the big arguments between parents is how late can the child stay out? Can they take the car? Can they do this and can they do that? What kind of arguments or discussions did you guys have in regards to your children and what could they do and what could they not do?

Lenore: Well, usually midnight, but when I was dating it was usually 11 or 11:30 p.m., but then like a wedding dance that didn't let out 12:00 a.m. I don't know, now it is different. I am glad my children are grown. I am glad I am as old as I am. Now, I am, enjoying life, my children and my grandchildren all are very good to me and I have lots to be thankful for. Paul died in 1989, and my three stepchildren are all dead, too. A train struck Wayne, and his wife's car in 1955. Doris died in 1991 of cancer, and Bernard died in 1997 from complications of a broken shoulder. Now, my pastime is making quilts and I enjoy that.

Corey: Do you quilt mostly by hand or by machine?

Lenore: By hand, and also the pieces by hand, too. But then after I sew the pieces together, I usually sew that on the sewing machine. But then I quilt by hand, and then if I feel blue or a little lonely I will play the piano. That really relaxes me.

Corey: One of our biggest modern day inventions that has become more and more popular in recent years is the computer. What do you think about the computer?

Lenore: I don't think I would ever learn to be able to, but I think it is pretty nice.

Corey: Have you ever used one?

Lenore: No! No! I don't think I could! I can type, but I don't just understand them. I really don't understand that. Well, another thing even like television, that's hard to understand, too, how pictures will come through the airwaves. First, radio and then telephone. That's a little hard to understand, how a voice can travel on that little wire. You probably think that's big, even in your short life, you can think of lots of changes, too.

Corey: Yeah, but things like the computer and stuff like that don't seem as far off to us. That is just something we have been using since we were in grade school. So we are used to it

Lenore: Now it is lap computers.

Corey: Palm held computers. Now we have the Internet.

Lenore: The Internet; some of that isn't so good though, huh? There are some bad things going on.

Corey: Yeah, you get the wrong people on there. What changes have you seen in the school system from when you went to school as opposed to now? And things you hear about going on in school?

Lenore: Well, one thing discipline. When I was in high school, a person was sent to the office if they had a chew of gum in their mouth or whispered or threw a paper wad. They would be punished by being expelled for a day, for throwing a paper wad. Now, when I went to grade school, this one boy he couldn't read very good and the teacher whipped him with a strap every day. Now a teacher can't even touch a pupil.

Corey: How do you feel about disciplinary action that is being taken by the school?

Lenore: Well, I don't know, it's been so many years. Now, it's great-grandchildren in school. I don't know, I couldn't answer that. I don't know, but I know that it is sure different. Now, they teach so much more, now music.

Corey: What were the primary classes that you attended when you were in grade school?

Lenore: In grade school, they were Spelling, English, Reading, Civics, Physiology, Geography, History, Orthography, and Art. I can always remember our eighth grade exams; I got a 100 in Spelling, a 100 in Reading, a 100 in Language, but I sure got a poor grade in Arithmetic, a 78. However a 75 was passing. I passed but I am better in Arithmetic now. Of course, now it is all adding machines, and calculators. I did all right.

Corey: With a calculator you probably would have done a little bit better!

Lenore: I would. I probably would have got a 100.

Corey: How many questions did they ask you on those exams?

Lenore: I don't know. I know the arithmetic was two pages. But I wasn't good in fractions, but just plain adding or subtracting or multiplying that was all right. But fractions that was really. Civics, well, that was our government. Now don't they have to pass the constitution exam in high school.

Corey: Yes.

Lenore: See we didn't.

Corey: What are the most important governmental changes you have seen through out your lifetime?

Lenore: I don't know. I know now, about the election [Gore vs. Bush]. The popular vote or electoral vote; I wonder what will happen this time? If it will change the popular vote or the electoral vote is the amount of the population in the government, too. I don't know, I don't know.

Corey: I don't know if any of us will ever know what the outcome is, as long as they're taking!

Lenore: My, My, you know when President Nixon and John Kennedy had the election, Nixon had the popular vote and Kennedy had the electoral vote, but Nixon didn't want to put the country through this so he conceded. I wonder if they ever will settle whether it is a popular vote or an electoral vote if that will decide the winner.

Corey: I wonder if it will stay, if they will amend it, or switch it around on us?