Friday, March 19, 2010

Bird's Eye View of the Hudson-Mohawk Valley from Cohoes

This view was taken from a hill area in Cohoes that would later be called Summit Street and where worker housing was built for Harmony Mills employees and their families. I think the photographer who took this image, probably stood in the undeveloped area that later became my godfather's backyard at 28 Summit St.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

LaCasse Sisters

Marie Louise Lacasse and Marie Ann Lacasse with two other young women.
Taken at Hamel Studio in Cohoes, NY
The photo is not dated but is probably taken circa 1900.
Marie Louise is standing on the right and Marie Ann is sitting on the left.
Marie Ann never married and remained at home, perhaps to care for her mother, Marie Louise Mireault, after the death of her father, Didace Lacasse.

Marie Louise was thirty five when she married Joseph Paul Emile Rivet, a widower, in Waterford, NY. Thirty five was considered beyond the norm for a first marriage of a woman at that time. Why had she waited? Perhaps she appreciated her financial independence? Marriage was not a blessings for Marie Louise Lacasse. She died four children and eight years later. Three of the children lived to be adults but Marie Louise never knew.

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?