- 25 november 1973 – letter from Pierre at St. John’s to Michel and Cecile (uncle and aunt) August 19, 2015
- 26 decembre 1964 – Chers vous autres! letter from Thérèse in Orange to Québec August 18, 2015
- 29 November 1953 – the letter that changed everything August 5, 2015
- 8 juin 1964 – John writes home to his mother, Amabilis July 11, 2015
- 8 juin 1964 – Chère maman: letter from John to his mother, on the death of his father July 10, 2015
- 10 avril 1964 – Thérèse moves to California and writes home about it July 5, 2015
- 10 avril 1964 – Chers vous autres! letter from Thérèse in Orange to everyone in Québec July 5, 2015
- 29 December 1977 – Joyeux Noël! letter from Pierre in Poitiers to Thérèse, Jean et Marc in San Diego June 27, 2015
- 29 November 1977 – Bonjour a tous! letter from Pierre in Poitiers to Thérèse, Jean et Marc in San Diego June 22, 2015
- 19 November 1977 – the back of the envelope: letter from Pierre in Poitiers to Thérèse, Jean et Marc in San Diego June 14, 2015
- 3 novembre 1977 – une lettre en français: un aerogramme de Pierre de Poitiers à Thérèse, Jean et Marc à San Diego June 13, 2015
- 11 October 1977 – free phones: an aerogramme from Pierre in Poitiers to Therese, Jean, and Marc in San Diego May 25, 2015
- 10 October 1977 – start of school: an aerogramme from Pierre in Poitiers to Therese, Jean, and Marc in San Diego May 24, 2015
- 1 October 1977 – Madame Lenfant: an aerogramme from Pierre in Poitiers to Jean in San Diego May 16, 2015
- 2 January 1974 – letter from Pierre in Ste-Foy to parents in Vientiane, Laos April 30, 2015
My father knew when he left Quebec in April 1964 that he would never see his father, Delphis, again. He didn’t expect Delphis to die this soon when he wrote this letter to his mother and family back in Sainte Croix.
“Everyone lives to hope. When there is no hope the desire to live is pretty much done.” John Bedard, 8 juin 1964, Orange, California
Beyond flailing to find a travel agent on a Sunday morning for a last minute roundtrip ticket to Montreal, there was little he could do. It was economically impractical, and probably thus impossible.
John dreamt in 1964. He had big plans – a three bedroom house, a swimming pool, and Catholic school for Pierre. But to get there, he struggled, working at the ultimate Al Bundy job, selling shoes at the Broadway department store on Euclid Avenue. Working at the MCP juice factory with Uncle Roland.
On a bright Friday afternoon in April, probably right after lunch, my mother waited for me to come home from Kindergarten at Palmyra School.
To pass the time and to reach out to those she left in Québec, Thérèse sat down and wrote this letter in the backyard of 340 Olive Street, a house built in 1923, which still stands in the City of Orange, California. She sat writing in the sun while Céline Corriveau, her sister, ironed clothes.
I was five about to turn six; Marc, my brother, had just turned two in January. My father was turning 40 in December. We had all just driven from Montréal Èst to Orange on Route 66.
Thérèse passed away earlier this year just a few miles from where we first settled, from the backyard where she wrote this letter.
Thérèse’s handwriting is precise, almost technical, Tektonish. She was naturally left-handed, and like so many others, was forced to be right-handed by nuns. This probably explains her professional-grade manual dexterity, a must for pediatric nursing. She was resourceful, quick on her feet, and had the amazing ability to keep her head while all around were losing theirs.
As a Registered Nurse, she was the one brought in for the difficult cases, starting IVs on suffering, crying, and (usually) thrashing children. She was not a creative seamstress, but she was technical enough to thread IVs into an infant’s vein.
On Olive Street in Orange, we lived eight in a one-bedroom coach house, but none of us cared, we had made it to California. Blue was my favorite color, and the sky that April was bluer than I had ever seen a sky. It was as if we could finally see color in the world, after living in black and white forever. There was neither cold nor snow.
As Thérèse writes, a day or so our arrival in California, I was enrolled in “Kyddy Garden” the day after we arrived. She did not dawdle nor play around when it came to education. I did not complain. I was likely too stunned, and anything was better than the backseat of the 1963 Rambler American monitoring the imaginary line between Marc and I, trapped together for the seven-day trek.
It was time to get immersed in America.