Sunday, March 14, 2010

FranoAmerican City - Cohoes, NY

Cohoes, New York was once the home of immigrant textile workers: French Canadian, Irish, Italian, Polish and Ukrainian were just a few groups and each had their own Catholic Church and priest who said mass in the language from "back home". By the 1960s, the textile factories were emptying, victim of the textile industry exodus to the the south.

For me, Cohoes is The FrancoAmerican City in the northeast where French was whispered in the smoking room of the funeral parlors. It was also a town where, if you had a French Canadian family name and you pronounced it the way they did up Canada, you would be considered "stuck-up". If you were a Hebert or  Benoit, you pronounced the "t" at the end of your name. Rivet was always pronounced with the "t" too. Gagnon was pronounced more like "Gag-none", DeMers was "Demerz". "Chevier" was always pronounced with an "rrrr" sound at its end.  How could we ever succeed in French class when we learned everyone's name so differently than our textbook?

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